Military Service

Photo of May Family in Military Uniform

Photograph featuring May brothers in military uniform. Contributed by Beloit College Archives.

Among the industrial, manufacturing and domestic fields that African Americans worked for, a large part of the Black community in Beloit also served our nation in the Armed Services. Community members have served in conflicts dating back to World War l and others choose to serve today. Beloit natives such as William Alfred Harris, Ersey Lee Edmund, and Phillip Lesley Johnson enlisted in the military at a young age, each serving in different branches and wars.Their contributions and service to our country are appreciated beyond measure. For all who have served in the past or are currently active, we thank you for your service to our country.

William Alfred Harris (1932-2007)

William Alfred Harris was born on July 20, 1932 in Beloit, Wisconsin. He grew up a Beloit native and attended school in the area. His senior class was the first of many to graduate from the new, relocated Beloit Memorial High School in 1952. Once graduated from high school, Harris attended the United States Air Force Academy where he played football— eventually joining the United States Air Force to fight in the Korean conflict. In 1976, he moved to Oakland, California and took on many different positions such as a drug counselor, financial advisor, insurance specialist and became the co-owner of Alchemy Investment Planning. He remained out in Oakland until his passing on May 29, 2007.

Ersey Lee Edmund (1945-)

Ersey Lee Edmund, another Beloit native, enlisted in the Navy in 1963 at age eighteen. Mr. Edmund went on to serve all over the world. He toured in Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, Guam and Vietnam. When he returned to the United States post-duty, he took over as head of the household and primary caretaker while his parents recovered from a major car accident. He says, "When we came back to the States, my parents got in a car accident. Daddy almost died and I started at Chrysler...he couldn't do nothing so I had to take care of the kids and I'd take twenty dollars and give him the rest of the check." 

Phillip Lesley Johnson (Birthdate Unknown)

Phillip Lesley Johnson is a retired attorney who currently lives in Los Angeles, California. He attended Beloit Memorial High School and, upon receiving an ROTC scholarship, went on to graduate from Princeton University. After graduating, Johnson was commissioned as Second Lieutenant and went directly into the Marine Corps, serving as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. He served three tours before returning to the United States and settling in Los Angeles.

Military Service