A story last week reported incorrectly that the 92nd Infantry was the only black Army unit in World War II. The group was the Army's only black division in Europe. (Published 10/22/87)

What Harold Montgomery remembers most clearly is this: "We had so many men who died from loss of blood or because they needed medical treatment that couldn't be rendered at a forward aid station.

"A man would get hit. The aid man would tape a bottle of blood plasma to the butt of a rifle and stick the rifle in the ground. The enemy fire was so intense, it would shatter the bottle or sever the {catheter} hose. It wasn't like today with helicopters to do evacuations. We would carry the majority of them out at night. We were in the mountains. The Germans had the trails zeroed in."

Henry McDonald will never forget: "The Germans split my best buddy in two. We were attacking a canal. He was on one of those tanks. I was approaching behind the tanks with the rest of the force on foot. They {the Germans} were dug in on the other side of the canal. They were hitting the tanks point blank with artillery fire. Blew 'em to pieces."

Harold McCleod remembers it simply as "mud, rain, water, snow and fighting."

On Saturday evening, the three men and more than 30 other World War II veterans of the Army's 92nd Infantry "Buffalo" Division held their fifth reunion at the Sheraton Inn in Silver Spring. The event commemorated the 45th anniversary of the unit's activation on Oct. 15, 1942.

Although their memories of the war were painful, the reunion was an opportunity for the men, most of whom are in their sixties, to renew old friendships.

The 92nd fought in northern Italy from August 1944 through the winter and early spring of 1945. The 92nd was the only black combat infantry division in the Army during the war.

All of its enlisted men and most of its platoon leaders were black. Most of its company commanders and all of its officers from major on up were white.

The 92nd was also one of the Army's most controversial units.

The controversy centered on the unit's overall lack of success in major combat operations.

Montgomery, a company commander in the 92nd who retired in 1961 with rank of colonel, attributes the 92nd's difficulties in part to the Army's failure to provide the division with enough suitable replacements.

"Many were not trained replacements," Montgomery said. "They had been given no infantry training. Many weren't able to handle their weapons. Especially automatic weapons."

According to Jehu Hunter, a communications officer in the 92nd, "They {the replacements} got their training on the job. The attrition began to take its toll. If you're replacing . . . with people who are not well-trained, you're going to have problems."

Hunter, who like Montgomery is retired and lives in Northwest Washington, also cited problems with some of the white officers, as did John Flippen, who was a forward artillery observer.

"The white command could always explain away any deficiencies by blaming it on the troops," Flippen said.

The 92nd suffered 555 killed, and its wounded totaled 2,293.

"The black soldier had to fight two enemies," Hunter said, "the enemy on the battlefield and the burden of racism that affected his outlook."

McDonald, who is retired and lives in Southeast, said: "It was frustrating. Very frustrating. I had a lot of mixed emotions. It was like blowing up a house and you know your sister is inside."

Despite all the hardships, McDonald said he would not have refused to fight.

"I don't think one should live in a country and refuse to defend his country or refuse to defend his democracy. I would have gone to Vietnam."

Hunter, however, said he had mixed feelings about Vietnam. "I believed our involvement was a mistake. I was particularly concerned about reports of black soldiers sharing an uneven part of their burden. But if I'd been on active duty, I would have served.

"Having the responsibility of leading men in a combat situation taught me a lot about people, life and how to manage."

"Before the war, discrimination was a part of my everyday life," McDonald said. "After the service, my attitude changed tremendously.

"I just made up my mind that I wasn't going to sit at the back of anybody's bus. I was determined I wasn't going to stand for it."