U.S. Army 1942–1946
Drafted into the Army from New Orleans in 1942, Clements was assigned to an all-Black Army unit. He addresses the issue of segregated units and how the Black soldiers weren’t allowed into combat even though they wanted to fight for their country. Following basic training in Wyoming, Jersey City and New York, his unit shipped out to England and then to France and Czechoslovakia. He was engaged in trucking supplies and also assigned for three months to the Grave Registration Unit, retrieving dead soldiers from the field. Joe speaks positively about his Army experience, his concerns in returning to the segregation of his home in Louisiana, and the lack of jobs for returning Black veterans. In his 30s, Joe lost his sight to glaucoma and now, at the age of 81, he tells about surviving Hurricane Katrina with his invalid wife. After a night in the New Orleans Superdome he went to Houston and then to Needham, Mass., to stay with relatives temporarily.