US Coins

Design review panels meet in January for gold medal designs

Insignia of the segregated 369th Infantry Regiment of African American soldiers deployed to France during World War I.

Image in the public domain.

The Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee will meet separately Jan. 19 and Jan. 24, respectively, to consider proposed obverse and reverse designs for the Harlem Hellfighters congressional gold medal.

The CCAC meeting will also witness the swearing in of the panel’s newest member, John Saunders.

The Harlem Hellfighters congressional gold medal was authorized under provisions of Public Law 117-38, enacted Aug. 25, 2021, by President Biden’s signature.

The Harlem Hellfighters were the segregated U.S. Army 369th Infantry Regiment of African American soldiers deployed to France during World War I. The 369th, renamed from the 15th Regiment, New York National Guard, was deployed to Saint Nazaire, France, on Jan. 1, 1918.

The 369th encountered its first German soldiers in combat in April 1918. In May of 1918, Pvt. Henry Johnson of the 369th received the French Croix de Guerre, with Palm, for extraordinary valor, becoming one of the first American soldiers to be awarded this honor.

Johnson also belatedly received a Purple Heart, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and in 2015 was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The 369th was relieved of its assignment with the French 161st Division in December 1918 and was demobilized on Feb. 28, 1919.

It is generally believed that the 369th was dubbed the ‘‘Harlem Hellfighters’’ by German soldiers, who found the men to be incredibly determined and courageous in battle.

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