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Rank Restored After 47 Years After Undeserved Discharge

July 7, 1996

ADA, Okla. (AP) _ A black Army sergeant dishonorably discharged 47 years ago by a white commander who thought he stole $3 worth of bacon, coffee and fruit cocktail stood strong and silent as the action was reversed.

``To have the wrong righted after all these years is something that I thank God for. I thank him that he allowed me to live long enough to see this through,″ said 75-year-old Carlis Calvin.

Calvin was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1949 over the alleged theft. His white post commander recommended the discharge, but the recommendation was refused by the Army’s Central Command.

The captain ignored his higher-ups and had Calvin forcibly removed from the base at Fort Sill and completed the paperwork for the dishonorable discharge.

For nearly five decades, Calvin could not vote or hold a federal or state job.

``I never felt I deserved the dishonorable (discharge),″ Calvin had said. ``I mean, maybe I made a mistake. But for that captain to throw me out and have me dishonored after they told him not to, that really hurt me for a long, long time.″

On Saturday Calvin remained at attention as U.S. Army National Guard Maj. Keith Remer restored his sergeant stripes in a ceremony at the Pontotoc County Courthouse.

President Clinton had ordered the discharge reversal and Gov. Frank Keating proclaimed Saturday as Carlis Calvin Day.

More than 200 people gathered Saturday as Calvin joined five other veterans in receiving overdue medals for military service.

``They called him a hero and a patriot,″ Calvin’s son, Charles, of Fort Worth, Texas, said. ``It’s nice to see after all these years, but I told him a couple of days ago when we were talking about this that he’s always been my hero.″

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