Fort Des Moines
“ In order to grant these members of the fraternity at the ROTC Fort Des Moines, in order to grant to these members of the fraternity an opportunity to enjoy the privileges of meeting together and taking among themselves such men as they thought were qualified to partake of an live up to the spirit of Omega.”
- At Fort Des Moines on June 17, 1917, one thousand Black college men and 200 noncommissioned officers from the 24th and 25th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were sworn into the Provisional Army Officer Training School.
- October 15, 639 men graduated from the course and received their commissions. Black units led by the officers trained here were assembled in France as the 92nd Division.
- This gallant division, composed entirely of African-American troops, received many citations and awards for meritorious and distinguished conduct in combat against the Imperial German Army on the approaches to Metz in the Lorraine.
Jesse S. Heslip
- He graduated from Howard University in 1917.
- He served as chairman of a committee that petitioned Congress to establish an officer training camp for African American college students during World War I.
- 1st Lieutenant Jesse S. Heslip was the Basileus of the War Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
- This chapter was established in 1917 during Officers Training Camp at Des Moines, Iowa that was set up after America entered the World War.
- He proved, during his army career, that he was capable of maintaining in that field his reputation for thoughtful, energetic and successful work.
- He was a machine gunner but his duties were most often administrative.
- He defended before court martials several comrades quite successfully.
- Brother Heslip had a 30-year record as an attorney in Toledo, Ohio of never losing a client to the electric chair
Brother Francis M. Dent (Amherst 17)
Later in the Season
Carter Weseley (Fisk 17)
O.G. Lawless (Talladega 17)
Chas E. Roberts (Howard 17)
David A. Lane (Bowdoin 17)
O.E. McKaine (Boston U)
Lt J.C. Wallace (Howard 16)
A t the close of the training camp 21 members of Omega Psi Phi left as commissioned officers.
- Omega would establish the first of the War Chapters at Fort Des Moines under permission of Grand Basileus McMorris.
- October 15, 1917 with the close of the camp, the war chapter at Fort Des Moines surrendered its charter to the Grand Chapter.
- Enthusiasm from the fellowship and brotherhood witnessed at Fort Des Moines sparked interest to establish a second war chapter at Camp Howard.
- First meeting 9 Sept 1918 presided by Grand Basileus C.F. Holmes Jr.
- This chapter initiated 27 men from 8 different colleges: 3 from Atlanta, 3 from Biddle, 6 from Fisk, 1 from Morehouse, 3 from Shaw, 5 from Talladega, 3 from Virginia Union and 3 from West Virginia.
- In September 1918, the Howard War Chapter surrendered its charter and those who had been in training were sent by the army to their respective schools to become assistant instructors in military science.
Lineage From The war Chapter
- The Camp Howard War Chapter was instrumental in bringing Omega Psi Phi to Atlanta, GA. Established in early 1918,.
- Camp Howard War Chapter initiated 27 men. Significantly, three War Chapter initiates – Laurence R. Harper, Horace A Hodges, and Harvey M. Smith – were Atlanta University undergraduates.
- Brothers Harper, Hodges and Smith helped charter Eta chapter on December 27, 1919 for students at Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Clark College.
- Tau would emerge from Eta in 1922 along with Psi at Morehouse College and Eta Omega (for graduate men), followed by Beta Psi at Clark College in 1923.
- Eta was reassigned to undergraduates at Alcorn University in 1949.
- In 1919, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity bestowed upon New York City, her fifth chapter. On April 18, 1919, nine Omega man gathered, and chartered the “Mighty” Epsilon chapter .Osceola E. McKaine (Des Moines, Iowa War Chapter ’16/Gamma Chapter ’17)
Sources of Information:
“June Oracle 1919”
“Howard in the War”