Military Monday- 761st Tank Battalion

Levi G.”Yogi” Bough (1921-2008) was the son of Julius C. Bough and Caroline Gasper-Bough, and my mothers’ brother. Born on St Croix, US Virgin Islands, later migrated with his family to New York City and enlisted with the US Army in April of 1942. My uncle was a member of the 761st Tank Battalion an independent tank battalion of the US Army, known as the Black Panther Tank consisting of mainly African-Americans. Their motto was “Come out Fighting” The tank unit trained at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, and Camp Hood, Texas. During the Battle of the Bulge Germany, the 761st was assigned to General George S. Patton, Jr. Private First Class, Levi Bough was a member of the 761st fine Orchestra as well as worked with the communications section.

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After the war, Levi enrolled and graduated at St. Francis College, NY. In 1950, his family settled in Switzerland. Once there he attended the University of Lausanne and ultimately became a Swiss citizen. Levi’s many years in Europe somewhat isolated him from the happenings of his army buddies. Although my uncle had taken very few trips to the states, he had not connected with the 761st members.

Thanks to the internet we “stumble upon” the 761st web site. In 2006, I made a contact with the 761st Tank Battalion Historian Wayne D Robinson and put him in contact with my Uncle. I could hear the excitement in Robinson voice to learn about a surviving member of the 761st.  He spoke with Levi often and wished for him to come to the states for the reunion that year. After reconnecting and speaking with Wayne Robinson, much of his conversation was about the 761st he spoke about the particulars, playing the violin in the orchestra, and the battles of racism.

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My Uncle began sending me many articles about his life, pictures, including the book “Come out Fighting which I treasure. Wayne wanted him to attend the Reunion in Texas, by 2006; my uncle was too weak to travel stateside. Oh how much I wish he could attend the 761st reunion because I know how proud and how much that part of his life meant to him. I can only imagine how it would have been seeing and discussing the activities of the members of the 761st after over 50 years. Although he was not at the 2006 reunion his heart and mind stayed on the event.

In May of 2008, Levi G. “Yogi” Bough died and was buried in Lugano Switzerland. He was 87 years old.

Read more The 761st Tank Battalion at http://www.761st.com/

By shelley dewese

As I continue to search out my history, I am discovering how much I did not know. The more information that is disclosed about my ancestry, the more I learn and understand how I am the person that has evolved today. As a native New Yorker, with roots in Coastal Georgia and deep roots in the Danish West Indies, now the Virgin Islands of the United States or commonly referred to as the United States Virgin Islands, I have always had a yearning to return to my maternal homeland. In September of 1976, my family and I relocated back to St. Croix. While living in New York, I was always telling my friends about my trip back home, but here I was actually waking up every day, walking among the streets and people that I have identified myself with all of my life. At the time, I was not involved in any genealogical work, but I knew there was a missing link that became completed after I was offered the opportunity to transfer Danish documents into a database. That opened up my world and I realize that this was my niche. I now had the tools to explore and document my ancestry. Growing up, my mother always impressed upon her children the pride in being a “Bough”, which was her surname. Now I was able to track where that pride came from, through participating in family history projects and meeting new family, as we gathered together for the Bough Family Reunion on St. Croix in July of 2012. As I continued to research, I found my passion extending to photography. Sunsets and street art are my favorite features, as shown in my tumblr blog http://minkyadoo.tumblr.com/ I also began blogging, and found that it has help me to improve my writing skills. Through the comments and well wishes, I have been encouraged to continue to write the stories and events of my life. Whether or not your roots trace back to the Danish West Indies, you will find a beautiful tapestry of life that reflects our “baseball and apple pie”. This site affords you the chance to transform yourself to a time during the Danish period (1734-1917) where life was both simple and complex. If you have any questions, comments, or need assistance in searching for a Danish West Indies ancestor, I invite you to drop me an email.

4 comments

  1. Shellye I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the military life of your uncle- Levi “Yogi” Bough!! I love his name sis!!

    I am so glad you shared his legacy with us today as we celebrate Veterans Day! That 761 Tank Battalion was a force to be reckoned with!!! I also understand why your uncle made the decision not to come back to the US after serving this country too! As you know, my father did not like the segregated US Army . . . but to serve his country the way he did to return back to a Jim Crow way of life in the South was difficult!

    This is EXCELLENT!

    Like

    1. I remember the tribute you gave to your Dad for his military service. From that post I knew that he like my Uncle experienced the struggle of proving their worth in the segregated US Army.

      Sent from my iPad

      Like

  2. What a wonderful story about your uncle!! I’m sure great memories for you, the family, friends, and those who served with him. Also, happy that there’s a book, with the story, for other generations to read and for those who served to share with all of us. Thanks for the post….I’d love to read the book!

    Like

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