Celebrating community, history and heroism with a Buffalo Soldiers tournament
by Tom Cade, Editor
This game can be used in many ways wise and wonderful, a bridge to connect a variety of people to achieve common goals. A charity tournament is one way to do that.
And this is where Jackie Jones-Hook comes in.
Her late father, William Jones, was one of the last Buffalo Soldiers. Born in 1918, he served in the Army as a missile engineer in World War II and the Korean War. He was taken as a prisoner of war in the Korean War.
“I was two years old before I saw my dad for the first time,” Jones-Hook says. “He was released as a POW, and finally came home in 1953.”
William founded the Buffalo Soldiers Museum in 2005, and when he passed away in 2009, his daughter took over running the museum. Now a retired civil servant, Jones-Hook serves as the executive director, and is one of 14 who sit on the museum’s board of directors.
Each year the museum’s annual golf tournament is held at JBLM’s Eagle’s Pride Golf Course, with PGA General Manager Jeff Clark conducting the annual event for the museum. This year’s event was held August 24, and featured former players from the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, and now the Kraken.
Funds raised by the tournament support the Buffalo Soldiers Youth Education programs, which include early learning, after school, and public school history programs, which are for 5th, 8th and 11th grade students. The common core curriculum offered at the museum includes topics on the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, World Wars I and II, and American history events.
“We’re always looking for ways to connect with the community,” Jones-Hook says. “A golf tournament is a wonderful, and enjoyable, way to do that. It helps honor those who have served in the military, honors the heritage of the Buffalo Soldiers, and serves as one of our methods of outreach.”
The tournament was co-founded by Otis Sistrunk, with the first event held in 2014. Sistrunk played seven seasons (1972-1978) as a defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL, winning Super Bowl XI as part of John Madden’s team. He didn’t go to college, instead serving three years in the U.S. Marine Corps. A Raiders scout spotted him playing in a semi-pro football game.
After retiring from football, the Army hired Sistrunk as a civilian employee, and he now works with the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department, managing Cowan Memorial Stadium at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington, and helping with the base’s athletic training programs.
Other events conducted by the museum include the annual Labor Day Festival (held this year on September 4), which includes a softball game at Cheney Stadium and a festival at nearby Heidelberg Park, both in Tacoma. The festival honors the military’s labor force.
Jones-Hook says the museum will soon be moving to a new location at historic Fort Lawton, located in Discovery Park above the shores of Puget Sound just outside Seattle. The U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Regiment (one of four Buffalo Soldier regiments) was stationed at Fort Lawton from 1909-1913.
She says the move is being made possible by funding from the Heritage Caucus of the Washington Museum Association. The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is located in Houston, Tex.
Did You Know….
The Buffalo Soldiers were created in 1866 as segregated Black-only peacetime cavalry regiments. These units were used for the westward expansion of the U.S. and fought in numerous military campaigns, earning a reputation for being the best-trained units in the Army.
Their combat prowess, bravery, and tenaciousness on the battlefield, as well as their dark curly hair, inspired Native Americans to call them Buffalo Soldiers, which symbolized the Native American’s respect for the soldiers’ bravery and valor. During World War I the 92nd Infantry Division adopted the buffalo as the symbol for its unit patch.
The heroism of the Buffalo Soldiers has been celebrated by filmmakers, musicians, military reenactors, and descendants who want to preserve their legacy.
On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, banning segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The 9th & 10th U.S. Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Museum
1940 S Wilkeson St.
Tacoma, Wash. 98405
The museum is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.