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First Name: Roscoe

Last Name: Cartwright

Birthplace: Kansas City, KS, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Conklin

Date of Birth: 27 May 1919

Date of Death: 01 December 1974

Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served:
Roscoe Conklin Cartwright, Sr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Roscoe Conklin "Rock" Cartwright, Sr.
Brigadier General, U.S. Army

Roscoe Conklin Cartwright was born on 27 May 1919 in Kansas City, KS, and spent his youth in Tulsa, OK. With his sights originally set on a college education prior to the World War II draft, Cartwright later said, "I recall seeing very few blacks in uniform in Tulsa before World War II. Therefore, being or becoming a soldier did not interest me until the draft was initiated and they started the lottery in 1940."

After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1936, he returned to Kansas to attend the Kansas State Teachers College. Unable to continue financing school during the Great Depression, Cartwright entered the workforce with stints at the University of Tulsa and the Bubble-Up Bottling Company.

Any plans of returning to college were put on hold when Cartwright was drafted into the Army in 1941 and assigned to the 349th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Sill, OK. Exemplary of the segregated Army at the time, all of the men enlisted in the 349th were black while all of the officers, except the chaplain, were white. Upon completion of Officers Candidate School in November 1942, General Cartwright was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery in the 599th Field Artillery Battalion of the famed 92nd Infantry Division, where he would remain throughout the war. He proudly led his men through the rigors of combat in Italy and, after the war, was promoted to First Lieutenant.

Cartwright returned to his wife in the U.S. with plans to return to civilian life and finish college. While the 599th was temporarily stationed at Camp Robinson near Little Rock, AR, he had met and married Gloria Lacefield who was from nearby Hope, AR. However, as Cartwright later stated, "When I arrived in November, all the schools were full. So I decided to remain in the Army another year." The Cartwright family, eventually including four children, would live not only in several U.S. cities, but also in Germany, Korea and Japan as Cartwright's success in the Army would lead to a military career.

After a transfer into the Regular Army, which was unprecedented for a black officer, Cartwright was promoted to Captain and served a combat tour in Korea. In 1954, he was promoted to Major with duty in Korea and Japan. He remained in Vietnam until 1971, when he became the third black man promoted to Brigadier General [Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was the first; and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was the second.]

In the meantime, Cartwright received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State College in June 1960. Further studies included computer training and courses towards a Masters in Business Administration. At West Virginia College, he taught Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for 3 years. (He was posthumously inducted into their ROTC Hall of Fame in 1992.) In Vietnam, Cartwright installed an education and information office, created a library and initiated college courses taught by accredited teachers serving under his command.

Cartwright also served as Chief of the Management Division in Post Headquarters, Comptroller of the Seventh Army Training Center, Chief of the Budget and Five Year Defense Program, Comptroller Deputy Chief of Staff at the Army Headquarters in Europe and Comptroller duties at the Pentagon. He retired from the Army in 1974.

Another important duty was to nurture young officers in their ascendancy through the military ranks. To this end, Brigadier General Cartwright was influential in shaping a loose network of black officers nicknamed the Blue Geese. On 9 October 1974, along with Colonel Robert B. Burke, Cartwright led an initiative to formally organize the growing network into what became temporarily known as the No Name Club until they agreed on an official name. Shortly thereafter, on 1 December, the No Name Club was assembled to vote on a name when they received the news that General Cartwright and his wife had died in a commercial airplane crash that day, 25 miles northwest of Dulles International Airport, two months after his retirement from active duty.

Even his tragic death would not interrupt the spirit of nurturing and commitment embodied by General Cartwright, as it became his legacy. The No Name Club soon voted to name itself The ROCKs, Inc. and establish the Roscoe C. Cartwright Scholarship Fund in their namesake's honor. This influence spread far and wide in the military as The ROCKS, Inc. currently boast over a dozen affiliations and over 1200 worldwide members including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin L. Powell. One member, General Roy Bell, described General Cartwright as one who would "take you under his wing" and help young officers make important connections and choose the right path as he did when General Bell was a young officer.

Major Assignments

November 1963-August 1966: Comptroller, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Leavenworth, KS.

August 1966-July 1968: Management Analyst, later Chief, Management Planning Division, later Chief, Research and Development Division, Office of the Director of Management, Office, Comptroller of the Army, Washington, DC.

August 1968-June 1969: Student, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC.

August 1969-January 1970: Commanding Officer, 108th Artillery Group, U.S. Army Pacific - Vietnam.

February-July 1970: Deputy Commanding Officer, U.S. Army Support Command, Cam Ranh Bay U.S. Army, Pacific - Vietnam.

August 1970-July 1971: Chief, Budget and Five Year Defense Program, Coordination Division, Manpower and Forces Directorate, Officer of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development, U.S. Army, Washington, DC.

July-November 1971: Special Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development, U.S. Army, Washington, DC.

November 1971-February 1972: Director of Management, Review and Analysis, Officer, Comptroller of the Army, Washington, DC.

February 1972-July 1973: Assistant Division Command, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army, Europe.

August 1973-August 1974: Deputy Chief of Staff, Comptroller, U.S. Army, Europe and Seventh Army

Military Schools

The Artillery School, School, Advanced Course
United States Army Command and General Staff College
Industrial College of the Armed Forces

College Degrees

San Francisco State College - BA Degree - Social Science
University of Missouri - MBA Degree - Business Administration

Medals and Awards

Legion of Merit (2 Awards)
Bronze Star Medal (3 Awards)
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal (3 Awards)
Army Commendation Medal (3 Awards)


Cartwright was a 33rd degree Prince Hall Mason. His former lodge in Oxen Hill, MD, is now known as the Roscoe C. Cartwright Prince Hall Masonic Lodge #129.

He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. which named him Alpha of the Year in 1971.

Death and Burial

Brigadier General Roscoe Conklin Cartwright and his wife of over 30 years, Gloria Marie Lacefield Cartwright, died in a commercial air incident 25 miles northwest of Dulles International Airport, on 1 December 1974. He and his wife are interred together at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, near the John F. Kennedy gravesite.

Besides the four children, their biological legacy includes eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Honoree ID: 2318   Created by: MHOH




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