Original Buffalo Soldier Joe Tolbert reflects on Veterans Day - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Original Buffalo Soldier Joe Tolbert reflects on Veterans Day

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Just after the Civil War, Congress established several new all-black regiments in the segregated military; two of them were dubbed the Buffalo Soldiers.

In honor of Veterans Day, News Leader 9 spoke with "Buffalo Joe" one of the original Buffalo Soldiers who lives right here in Columbus.

Joe Tolbert, 89, was 17 years old when he was drafted and sent off to war.

"World War II and the Korean War," said original Buffalo Soldier, 17th Regiment Joe Tolbert.

The father of two said at the time he was drafted, he had no clue he was becoming a pivotal part of American History.

"I was too young to know anything. I just wanted to get in the war," Tolbert exclaimed.

"So, you wanted to fight," reporter Brittany Dionne asked.

"Right," Tolbert replied.

Tolbert is an original Buffalo Soldier. They were an all African-American Army unit that was crucial to the Western expansion of the United States.

"World War II and the Korean War- a lot of people aren't old enough to know anything about the Buffalo Soldiers but it was a great outfit. It's history," Tolbert proclaimed.

Tolbert said the fight was not easy. At one point he says he was captured by Germans but let go. He thanks God he's still alive.

"We went through it, you know," said Tolbert. "I got hit one time but out of two wars the good lord spared me to go through two wars with one hit."

There are two legends surrounding how the Buffalo Soldiers got their nickname.

According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the nickname began with the Cheyenne warriors in 1867. 

The epithet was reportedly given out of respect and their fierce fighting ability.  The other Legend is that Native Americans called the black cavalry troops Buffalo Soldiers because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat.

Tolbert sets the record straight.

"Fierce Fighters!"

In 2011 Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson declared March 23 "Joe Tolbert Day'. He says that was one of his proudest moments.

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