MORGAN CITY, LA (WAFB) - As World War II veterans pass on, they take with them the stories of their struggles, their lives, and their service.
The Skinner family of Morgan City said goodbye Friday to Emanuel Skinner, one of the few remaining Louisiana soldiers from a special unit of the greatest generation, the Buffalo Soldiers.
"They went through name-calling. They went through fights, because of who they were," says Joyce Thomas, Skinner's daughter.
They were the Buffalo Soldiers, the all black infantry regiment raised during the Civil War.
Emanuel Skinner joined the ranks of the famed 10th Calvary at the age of 23. After completing basic training, it was onto a ship and off to Italy to fight the Germans in World War II.
As a Marksman, PFC Skinner was on the front lines as the Allied forces battled their way across Italy.
"He said it was just sheer horror. He would tell us how the bombs and the mortars shells would just drop around him," says Thomas. "He would tell me that he didn't know how he came back home, because his friends were falling and dropping all around him."
It was the Buffalo Soldiers' fierce fighting in Italy and at the Battle of the Bulge that eventually led to the racial integration of the Army. But Joyce says her dad learned fighting side-by-side with white soldiers what it took his Generals much longer to understand.
"My dad said it didn't make any difference to him. If you were a man, a true man, the color of your skin shouldn't make a difference," says Thomas.
Honorably discharged and back at home, PFC Skinner did what most of his generation did, blended back into everyday life, raised a family, helped his church and rarely talked about his service.
"He said it must have been that God had something for him to do to enable him to come back home."
He was laid to rest Friday at the age of 97.
The last remaining Buffalo Soldier in Louisiana.