Black soldiers to get apology for framing

July 23, 2008 at 3:29 PM

SEATTLE, July 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is set to apologize to black soldiers framed for a 1944 riot and the lynching of an Italian POW in Seattle, officials said.

The assistant secretary of the Army is expected to apologize for the court-martial of 28 men, which last year an Army appeals court ruled as fundamentally unfair, as part of a series of tributes that run Thursday through Sunday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Wednesday.

Managers of Seattle hotels helped secure 60 room-nights for families of the black soldiers at some of the city's best hotels, an estimated savings of about $13,000.

"We're a little nervous to see where it all began, and we're all wondering what kind of emotions will be elicited by coming to see where it all happened," said Lashell Drake, a Milwaukee, Wis., woman whose deceased grandfather, Booker Townsell, was among those wrongly convicted.

The case was forgotten until a book by Seattle author Jack Hamann established that the black soldiers weren't present at the Italian's lynching, a fact Army investigators reportedly knew during the largest and longest court-martial of World War II. Included among the prosecutors was Leon Jaworski who later came to fame as a Watergate special prosecutor.

The report said Italian POWs were resented by white soldiers because they were allowed to date "adoring" high school girls.

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