Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum


Trooper Frederick Douglas Jones
28th U.S. Horse Cavalry

George Hicks, III
Carmon Weaver Hicks
February 2005

Trooper Frederick Douglas JonesThe World War II troopers from Cincinnati talked about Fred Jones whenever they reminisced. He was recruited with them and they returned to Cincinnati after the war. But after the 30 below zero winter in 1953, Fred moved to Los Angeles, California.  He found a job as a janitor at MGM Studios then became a foundry foreman and later worked as a county sheriff’s court deputy. After the 1992 riots associated with the Rodney King beating, Fred focused on the troubled youth in Los Angeles.  He thought, “These kids can be saved.” He connected with a youth rehabilitation program in Arizona called VisionQuest to create a civilian version of the Buffalo Soldiers for inner-city youth.  Jones’ vision was to use mothballed military bases to house the program. Soldiers who lost their jobs because of cuts in military spending would be hired to help run the program. Once the youth were trained to be equestrians and marchers, they could perform in parades and at schools as well as conduct community service projects. There would be no drugs, no alcohol, and no gang colors.  The participants would wear frontier-style cavalry uniforms. “Give them a horse to break and the barriers will break down, too. I’ve seen it before” (Pool, Times newspaper, Oct, 1991).

Later, Jones became the President of the LA Chapter of the 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry Association. He promoted many positive activities. When the Bowers Museum in Orange County, California had a Buffalo Soldiers exhibit, an American Indian activist began a hunger strike outside the building. It lasted for two days before the Indians and Buffalo Soldiers admitted wrong doings. A ceremony of reconciliation was held.  Fred Jones and several other Buffalo Soldiers exchanged gifts with the American Indians. Their embrace during the ceremony was featured in the Orange County Register newspaper. In addition, there is a Buffalo Soldier monument in Junction City, Kansas that is a modeled after Jones. It is a bronze statue of a World War II trooper standing next to a horse.

Fred and I had many telephone conversations and he sent email and regular mail messages that encouraged me. I received newspaper articles and newsletters from the LA Chapter. He offered guidance on preparing the necessary documents for the Heartland Chapter as well as provided information and contacts for purchasing uniforms and equipment. He was happy that his old Army buddies from Cincinnati were finally forming a chapter.

On December 5, 2002, Fred was present at the groundbreaking ceremony for the “Fred D. Jones Youth Center” in Hesperia, California. He was a positive force in the community and the history of the Buffalo Soldiers was always part of his message. Frederick Douglas Jones, Jr. died December 27, 2003. He was remembered at his memorial service with the following:

Frederick Douglas Jones, Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 27, 1923, the fifth of eight children, conceived from the union of Frederick and Mae Jones (both preceded his passing). Fred received all his schooling in Cincinnati, and graduated from automotive High School in 1942. It was a school unique for its time because the students were required to build a complete vehicle before graduating.

After high school, Fred was a messenger for the War Department. He made $90 a month and was exempt from the draft. But after only six months on the job, he joined the Army with his friends. On March 6, 1943, about 100 new recruits boarded buses for the induction center at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. When they got off the bus at Fort Thomas, the sergeant immediately separated the white recruits from the black recruits.

After processing, the black recruits were sent to Camp Lockett, California. At the time, they had no idea where they were. A guy told him that they were in the cavalry. He knew a little about the history of the black cavalry so the idea of being a horse soldier was appealing. As a member of the newly organized 28th U.S. Cavalry, he expected that they would be part of a proud tradition of combat service as Buffalo Soldiers.

In 1992 when the Buffalo Soldier Monument was dedicated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, members of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association from around the country heard General Colin Powell’s impressive presentation. Jones saw a troop of young men and women reenacting the 9th and 10th Cavalry. They were troubled kids in a program called VisionQuest. He started formulating an idea of how to help the youth in southern California. Youth offenders were redundantly incarcerated through their teen years and government intervention placed them in correctional facilities that segregated them by their gangs. The negative symbols of the streets were reinforced.  Jones thought a horse cavalry could rehabilitate troubled kids, and give them a sense of honor and integrity. The cavalry had given Jones a sense of the type of hard work it takes to gain confidence.

Later, Jones joined the Board of Directors of VisionQuest and worked with young people across the country. The Buffalo Soldiers’ story can be a tonic for generations of lost children in our culture that are troubled due to the lack of guidance or the lack of tradition. “We have to show all people that African Americans have a rich history in this country, if they’d only explore it.”

Fiddler’s Green

When a cavalryman dies, he begins a long march to his ultimate destination. About halfway along the road, he enters a broad meadow dotted with trees and crossed by many streams, known as “Fiddler’s Green.” As he crosses the green, he finds an old canteen, a single spur, and a carbine sling. Traveling along, he comes upon a field camp where he finds all the troopers who have gone before him, with their campfires, tents, and picket lines neatly laid out.
            All other branches of service must continue to march without pause. The cavalrymen, though, are authorized to dismount, unsaddle, and stay in the Fiddler’s Green, their canteens ever full, the grass always green, and enjoy the companionship and reminiscences of old friends.


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