African-American Heroes
Henry Ossian Flipper

Entered Service: Appointed to U.S. Military Academy, 1873


In 1877, Henry Flipper became the first African American to graduate from the U.S Military Academy. He was commissioned second lieutenant and assigned to the 10th Cavalry Unit. Although Flipper became the first African-American Army officer, his military career was brief. In 1882, he was a part of a controversial dismissal for "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen" following questionable charges of embezzling funds. Throughout his civilian life, Flipper maintained that he was innocent of the charges. Following his death in 1940, his family and supporters continued the fight to clear his name. In 1999, President William Clinton pardoned Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper, recognizing the error and acknowledging the lifetime accomplishments of this American Soldier.