Sgt. William H. Thompkins was an African-American soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Spanish-American War.  He was part of the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments that the Army formed in 1866.  A short film produced by San Francisco State University recently highlighted Thompkins.  The film presented a history of the Buffalo Soldiers, which included the story of Thompkins’s heroic actions on the night of June 30, 1898.

Over 400 Buffalo Soldiers are now buried at San Francisco National Cemetery.  Last year, the Veterans Legacy Program partnered with San Francisco State University to conduct research on Veterans buried at local national cemeteries.  The students and faculty created a series of short films about the stories that they discovered at Golden Gate and San Francisco National Cemeteries.  Thompkins’s story was one of them.

This partnership is one of the ongoing efforts to modernize the way that we memorialize Veterans.  In May 2016, the NCA launched the Veterans Legacy Program in order to engage students, teachers, and the public with stories about the lives of Veterans.  To find out more about the Veterans Legacy Program, please visit the website located here:

NCA is proud to support local filmmakers, storytellers, and students engaging with the stories of Veterans in their local national cemeteries. They may raise issues of local interest or even controversy. We hope this encourages all viewers to learn more about the Veterans and their circumstances. The views expressed by parties in the films are not those of NCA, but presented as part of the plurality of perspectives and views surrounding the life and service of American Veterans.

In recognition of Black History Month, the NCA is proud to share the film “Pride of the Buffalo Soldiers.

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Published on Feb. 8, 2018

Estimated reading time is 1.5 min.

Views to date: 288


  1. clark February 28, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Thank you all for your service. As a Vietnam Veteran, I know how it is to be shunned by our own sometimes, but we have survived and lived through what many will never live. No movie or anything will let the people know what it was really like. Only we know. Again I want to thank you for helping our country to prevail. Hopefully it will stay as strong as it has. Thanks to you.

  2. Michael Avery February 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    To Don Lynch, watch and listen carefully to the narration. In it is explained that the name Buffalo Soldier came from the native American Indians.

  3. David Beach February 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    History actually shows that the reason black soldiers called Buffalo Solders had nothing to do with how they fought in battle. I’m not saying they didn’t fight valiantly against their enemy in the Indian wars. However they were called Buffalo Soldiers because of the texture of their hair. The Native Americans had no predudice but related to the animal world and that is why they were called Buffalo Soldiers. I am sure they fought like anyone would facing an enemy that was determined to kill you

  4. roger dellicolli February 10, 2018 at 11:24 am

    i grow up repecting everyone i sever with them in Nam they remenber what Mass, did for them train them and fought side by seride and die with them, We are all BROTHERS

  5. Learie February 10, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Even if you put your life on the line from this country your still just looked down on as a no good piece of dung. Black people even while in slavery helped in the fight against the British. Fought in the civil war. Yet after it was done your still not worthy to be considered human. We’ve been called monkeys apes jungle bunny and those are the few good words. It would have been better to leave the Buffalo soldiers bone where they were they never thanked there decendants or families. Just a black mans opinion.

  6. eli chavez February 9, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    1966/1967 camp kaiser 2/10th cav unchon-ni korea buffalo soldiers b co.
    bayonet can fall any where!

  7. Lee R. Dixon February 9, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    I served in the 10th Cavalry at Camp Kaiser, Korea from December 1960 until March 1962 and well over 5 decades later I still take pride in having served in the 10th Cavalry under the outstanding leadership of Colonel Thomas Q. Donaldson.
    I served in several units but the Buffalo Soldiers was the best of all.
    In answer to the above question, we were taught that the name “Buffalo Soldiers”was giver to the 10th and to another cavalry unit by the plains Indians.. the solders of the all back cavalry units were called buffalo soldiers by the Indians because of their coarse kinky hair.
    For those others who remember Colonel Donaldson’s outstanding leadership, he retired and settled in Pennsylvania and was killed in an automobile accident several years ago.

  8. Mark S. Bailey February 9, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Just to make a small addition here, it was my understanding the last Buffalo Soldier was Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews Jr., died Aug. 26, 2016 (buried at West Point on Sept. 3, 2016)!? We happened to be there shortly after his burial and herd that the last Buffalo Soldier had just been buried there so we went to his grave to pay our last respects. If Buffalo Soldier Sgt. William H. Thompkins died Sept. 24, 2016 then he was the last Buffalo Soldier. Hmmm!!? At any rate they all have my salute!… May they rest in peace!

    • Gary Hicks February 12, 2018 at 6:36 am

      Sgt. Thompkins died in 1916, not 2016.

  9. Rod Tatsuno February 9, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    The history books never mentioned the 9th jand 10th Cavs is when I was a child, just as the Tuskegee Airmen weren’t. A rich part of our national collective history. I was born behind barbed wire and lived in a horse stall at the Tanforan race track before spending three years in the Topaz “internment camp” in Utah. Our experiences didn’t appear in the history books. I served in the 3rd ACR with many fine black soldiers.

  10. Micheal Gwynn Wilson February 9, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    I would like to know more about William Scott?
    She was a black woman that served two
    years in the old west.

  11. Don Lynch February 9, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    How did you get the name Buffalo Soldiers?

    • Dennis Regan February 9, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      Anecdotal remark – this was in reference to the troopers’ hair, likened to the cape / hair of the buffalo. Even before I saw the movie about the Spanish American War, ‘Rough Riders’, I had read in a biography of Douglas MacArthur (Blair?) as he worked for ‘Black Jack’ Pershing – who commanded a unit of the 10th Cav (or commanded) that was where the idea came from.

    • Michael Avery February 10, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      To Don Lynch, watch and listen carefully to the narration. In it is explained that the name Buffalo Soldier came from the native American Indians.

  12. H B Moore February 9, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    How can I obtain a copy?

  13. Michael Thomas February 9, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    This comment is not meant to be disrespectful of those who served as Buffalo Soldiers for I know the reason for their organization in the first place, “experienced soldiers” (in this case Union Civil War veterans were needed to help fulfill Sheridan’s quota in the West to fight Indians, they killed a lot of American Indians) but I don’t wish that they be honored for nearly wiping out an indigenous race within the borders of America. All it’s doing is pitting one race against another. Acknowledging them as special men who help settle the West with towns sprung from their Forts in most territories west of the Mississippi River, the territory explored by Lewis and Clark as ordered by Thomas Jefferson. Making mention of their explorers’ accomplishments should be included in such an article, for this was their special contribution. The Buffalo Soldier had something to do with many major towns throughout the West. We owe them the most for their settlement of our vast western domain.

  14. Joseph Collins February 9, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Great Legacy, I served in the 10 Calvary in Ft. Knox in the early 80s. And very proud of it. It would be nice to find a way to officially show we served under that heritage.

    • Jesse C Anderson February 9, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      I served in the 2nd Inf Div. from 1974-76 and still proud of the heritage of the Buffalo Soldiers.

  15. ALVIN ADAMS February 9, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I would like to know how to get a DVD of that film to show at some of our events.

  16. ALVIN ADAMS February 9, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I am proud to be a member of the Buffalo Soldiers.

  17. Walter E. Huff, II February 9, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Excellent, Excellent presentation Ken!! Story should be mandatory to be taught in our Schools from Kindergarten to High Schools!! Keep up the Fantastic Work!!

  18. Robert Wood February 9, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I am a Navy vet and a member of AMVETS POST 142 IN Newnan, Georgia. We Bufflo Soilders. Thank God for their service.

Comments are closed.

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