Celebrating local African American military veterans

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Sailor Nathaniel Clifford Jones Jr. was a seaman apprentice aboard the Navy battleship USS Iowa on April 19, 1989 when there was an explosion in a 16-inch gun turret. Jones, 22, was among the 47 sailors who died in the battleship blast in the Caribbean Sea near Puerto Rico.

Now the Buffalo native is among hundreds of African American military veterans – some of whom died in combat – who will be honored with a special exhibit the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library – “Remembering Deceased African American Veterans of WNY.” It is  designed to pay tribute to local men and women who have been identified in military records as colored, Negro, black or African American.

The exhibit lists 1,500 Buffalo veterans who participated in every United States military conflict whether they enlisted voluntarily or were drafted, creators said. They represent all five branches of the military – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.

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