Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum


Trooper Louis D. Garrett
9th and 27th U.S. Cavalry

George Hicks, III
Carmon Weaver Hicks, Ph.D.
September 2005

Trooper Louis D. Garrett

It was March 1999 when we received a letter from a World War II soldier. Louis D. Garrett from Somerset, Kentucky responded to our initial inquiry about establishing a local chapter of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association. He served in the 9th and 27th U.S. Cavalry Regiments (pictured at right at Ft. Riley, KS, 1942). His handwritten letter supported our plan:

March 16, 1999

Dear Trooper Hicks:

I received the newsletter and I thank you very much.
I did not answer, because I feel I will not be able to help,
because of poor health.
Yes I have been a member of the Cavalry Association since 1970.
I have attended several reunions, but I have not been to a reunion for about twelve or fifteen years. I pay my dues every year and receive my newsletters regularly.
I served with the 9th and 27th Cavalries in North Africa in 1944 when the Cavalry units were disbanded and reassigned. We spent the remainder of World War II in various locations in Europe.
I hope that you will do well with the Greater Cincinnati Chapter. The 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association has done a great work in keeping alive and preserving the rich history of the Buffalo Soldiers. A history worthy of special recognition.
The Buffalo Soldiers played a great role in the development of our Country and should be recognized and take its rightful place in the history of our Country
Hopefully the history of the Buffalo Soldiers will be in history books and encyclopedias.

Louis D. Garrett


Trooper Louis Daniel Garrett was born on April 11, 1921 in Somerset, Kentucky. His parents were George and Loretta Wheeler Garrett. He graduated from Dunbar High School in 1941 and during the first week in January 1942, volunteered for the armed service with his friends Roy and Henry Stigall. A recruiting officer told them that if they volunteered they could choose their branch of service. They volunteered for the U. S. Air Force and were sent directly to Fort Riley, Kansas.

Garrett told me that during those times it was common to switch personnel from one service to another. He was first assigned to the Cavalry Replacement Training Center (CRTC) then to the 9th (Horse) Cavalry at Fort Riley, Kansas. They were surprised and very disappointed because they had never heard of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Louis Garrett
Louis Garrett
CRTC, Ft. Riley, KS 1942

Trooper Garrett was in basic training with Jackie Robertson, the baseball player. Joe Louis, the boxer, was assigned to Fort Riley also. Joe worked for Special Services, which serves the Army’s recreation and athletic programs. When Garrett entered the Army he had a high school diploma. During this time the only way black soldiers could be considered for an officer was if he had some college education. At the same time, there were white officers who had not completed high school.

When the decision was made to create two additional African American horse cavalry regiments (the 27th and 28th), Trooper Garrett was assigned to the 27th to help organize and train the new recruits. Garrett and the 27th were assigned to Fort Clark, Texas. In 1944, after two years of training, they were shipped to North Africa without horses. The horse units were disbanded and the troopers were reassigned to mostly service units throughout Europe. They were also used as replacements for the 92nd Infantry Division-another all black unit. Trooper Garrett served as First Sergeant of Company E, 412 Port Company. About a month before his discharge, he was transferred to the 369th 2nd Quartermaster Trucking Company.

When the war ended, he left France aboard a troop ship. It took nine days to get from France to the United States. The military was still segregated. Garrett was assigned to a section of the ship with 20 soldiers of which only three or four were black. They were told that the man with the highest rank would be in charge. The soldiers looked around at each other’s uniforms and Louis D. Garrett had the highest rank as a First Sergeant. Everything went well and they landed in New York. Garrett served four years on active duty with honor. He received the American Theatre Ribbon, European African Middle Eastern Theatre Ribbon with two Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. (Enlisted Record and Report of Separation, December 12, 1945).

Garrett returned to Somerset, Kentucky in 1945 and married Maxine Grider on June 7, 1946. He took advantage of the G.I. Bill that helped pay for veterans’ educational programs. Garrett enrolled at the Foust O’Bannon Trade School in Louisville, Kentucky to study tailoring. He completed this program in 1954 and went to a bank in Somerset to request a loan to start a tailoring business. When he presented his plan to the president of the bank, the president stated he could not make a decision and he would take it to the bank’s board. He instructed Garrett to come back the next day. The following day, the bank president said that the board turned down his request. Garrett went to another bank where he had never conducted any business. The bank president was a retired Army general and his loan was approved. He needed $1,000 to start his business. He continued to associate with the first bank that refused his first loan request and he noted that they sent him more business than anyone else. In a small town, it’s important to learn not to burn any bridges.

Garrett stayed in the tailoring business - Garrett’s Tailoring Shop - for 41 years. Most of his customers were wealthy farmers and businessmen. When Garrett retired in December 1994, two newspapers published articles about his life and the impact he made on the community. Here are a few words from one of the newspaper article… Louis has just been one fine citizen. He dressed half of the businessmen in town back then.

Over the years, Garrett served as deacon, superintendent and Sunday School teacher and treasurer at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Somerset. He was baptized at an early age and loved the church.

Somerset, Kentucky

On September 23, 1999, three troopers from Cincinnati and I departed to Somerset, Kentucky to visit Garrett.  It was a three-hour drive but the conversation in the car with the old soldiers reminded me of my purpose. They didn’t know him since he was in a different military unit. I told them that we needed to hear as many stories as we could.  When we arrived, Garrett and his wife welcomed us and the conversations were full of spirited laughter and camaraderie.  When Garrett put on his “Ike” jacket (named for President Dwight Eisenhower), we were all impressed.  With his tall, slim build, he could still wear his jacket some 50+ years later.

Louis D. Garrett with Buffalo Soldiers' Reunion programLouis D. Garrett with his "Ike" Jacket
Louis D. Garrett with Buffalo Soldiers’ Reunion program and in his “Ike” Jacket, 1999
BSRM Collection

We took photos together and felt connected to our Buffalo Soldier brother. It was a Buffalo Soldier reunion of old soldiers who shared the same pride and humility as they served this country in the 1940’s. The stories they shared were different but all the same. As the Cincinnati troopers headed back up the road, they were glad to meet Trooper Louis Garrett and I sensed an appreciation for the effort we made to reach out to this cavalryman.

A few days after meeting with 78-years old Trooper Louis Garrett, he sent me this note.

Although I was very disappointed when I was sent
to the horse cavalry but now I am proud to have
been one of the last horse cavalrymen to serve
the United States of America.
Louis D. Garrett

Troopers Linwood Greene, Jr., Uell Flagg, Louis Garrett and Lorenzo Denson
Troopers Linwood Greene, Jr., Uell Flagg, Louis Garrett and Lorenzo Denson
Somerset, KY 1999
BSRM Collection

Time moves on and in July, 2005, when we returned from the 139th Anniversary Reunion of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association, I received an email from Louis Garrett’s daughter, Janis Garrett Garr. She informed me that her father, Louis D. Garrett, passed away on July 24, 2005 at the Hospice Care Center in Lexington, KY. He was 84 years old. She noted that he was proud to be a part of the Buffalo Soldiers. He left behind his wife of 59 years, Maxine, and three children, Bill, Janis, and Danita.

On September 9, 2005, Mrs. Maxine Garrett, wife of the late Trooper Louis Garrett of Somerset, Kentucky called me. I remember her from the visit with the Heartland Chapter Buffalo Soldiers.  She served light refreshments, cake, and a variety of beverages. Mrs. Garrett called to say that her husband of 56 years has passed in July and while going through his things, she wanted to connect and give us the news.

We talked about our visit to her home and the jacket her husband wore when he was in the Army. She mentioned that if her kids didn’t want his jacket, we could use it for our museum. She stated that she would send a copy of Louis’ going home service and a photograph that she used on the church bulletin.


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