WWII Veteran Who Was Member of 'Buffalo Soldier' Unit Dies

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Military headgear with the 10th Cavalry Regiment crest, one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments in the Army, is displayed during a Black History Month observance.
Military headgear with the 10th Cavalry Regiment crest, one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments in the Army, is displayed during a Black History Month observance at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Feb. 17, 2016, at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Marcy Sanchez/U.S. Army photo)

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Steve Lewis, a World War II veteran who was one of the last living members of an all-Black cavalry regiment, died Wednesday in Florida. He was 99.

Robert Powell, president of the NAACP chapter in Manatee County, Florida, said Lewis had been hospitalized prior to his death but he didn't know the cause of death.

"We lost a legend, a great guy," Powell said in a phone interview. "I used to love listening to his stories."

After entering the U.S. Army in 1943, he was initially assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Clark, Texas, where he was told to corral and get a horse and issued a saddle, bridle, horse blankets and stirrups, according to the Bradenton Herald. The unit had gained fame after the Civil War by patrolling the American frontier, and its members were known as "Buffalo Soldiers."

The Army deactivated the 9th Cavalry Regiment in 1944, and reassigned Lewis to the U.S. Army Transportation Corps in Casablanca, where he helped supply war materials to the front in Italy, France, and Germany.

After the war, Lewis, a Florida native, earned a degree in agriculture and taught for 30 years in the Palmetto, Florida, area.

Lewis is survived by a daughter, according to the Bradenton Herald.

No one responded to an email inquiry to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston on Wednesday about how many Buffalo Soldiers are still alive.

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