Captain Elias W. Covington, 1956

Biography of Elias W. Covington

Leader, Company 4520, Fort Bragg, NC & Company 429, Yanceyville, NC & Roxboro, NC

Captain, USA

Based upon an article in the NACCCA Journal, which in turn was a reprint of an Article in the American Visions, The Magazine of Afro-American Culture, forwarded by Capt. Covington

   I was working for 50 cents a day in 1935. My father had died, and I had to take care of my mother and a younger brother and sister. But in my hometown of Laurinburg, North Carolina, nobody was making any money. It was a tough time for all Americans, and especially African Americans who were already poor to begin with due to discrimination and the aftermath of slavery.

   I heard of a new program, the Civilian Conservation Corps, from my local relief supervisor. The CCCs was created to give people jobs, and thanks to Oscar De Priest, the only black congressman at the time, an amendment to the CCC laws made it an organization that would not discriminate by race or color. If it wasn't for Oscar De Priest, as an African American I would not have been able to enlist. As it was, however, the supervisor asked me if I wanted to join the CCC.

   The CCCs were going to pay $30 a month, $25 of which would go to my mother. Thirty Dollars a month was a lot of money in those days. Plus we got all of our clothes, and a clean bed to sleep in. They also had educational facilities and a medical officer. So I told him "Yes". He moved my age up, that’s how I got in. I was 15 years old.

   I was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where I joined an all-black company. The CCC's was completely segregated except a few camps outside the South.

   It was at Fort Bragg that I saw a typewriter for the first time in my life. And Every time I got a chance, I used it. It opened up a whole new world. Because of my interest in typing I received numerous promotions in the CCCs.

   I was assigned to Company 4520 at Fort Bragg. I was assigned eventually to kitchen police duty, meaning I was one of the Cooks who prepared three meals a day for the 200 men in the Company plus the officers and staff.

   I next was assigned to duty as an officer's orderly. From there I was moved to ambulance driver.

   I was transferred to Company 429, Yanceyville, NC. After a time our Company moved to a new Camp in Roxboro, N.C.

   I was then made an assistant supply sergeant, from which position I was promoted to a Supply Sergeant. During these various positions I was promoted to Assistant Leader and then Leader. Assistant Leaders received $36 a month and Leaders $45 a month.

   I was also appointed to the Army Overhead as a Key Man. Key Men were allowed to remain in the CCC beyond the two year limit imposed upon other Enrollees.

   As Supply Sergeant I was in charge of all the clothing and equipment for the Company. I was appointed Supply Sergeant with Company 429 in 1937 and remained in that position until I was discharged from the CCCS in 1942.

   I left the CCCs and joined the Army in 1942. There my experience served me well. I was promoted to Corporal, through Sergeant and to Battallion Sergeant Major within 13 months.

   After World War II I remained in the Army. I picked up my education and received a high school diploma and after that a college degree, a BA in Public Administration, from Upper Iowa University in Fayette thanks to the GI Bill.

   I received a direct commission to 2nd Lieutenant with the Corps of Engineers in 1948. I remained in the Army for over 20 years, retiring as a Captain in 1962.

   Although I left the Army I did not leave public service, entering the Civil Service in 1962 and remaining there until I retired in 1984 as Chief of Division Logistics with the Department of Health and Welfare Human Services, in Washington, DC. My Federal Service, including my stint with the CCCs, totaled over 48 years.

   While in D.C. I began my volunteer work with the National Association of CCC Alumni which was then headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia. Even though the NACCCA is now in Missouri, I remain a member.

----- Elias. W. Covington, Capt. USA(ret.)

LINKS

Elias W. Covington, Captain, USA

Elias Covington, in CCC Uniform, Photograph

Company 429, Group Photo, Mr. Covington Kneeling Second from Left, 1940

CCC Typing Class, Photo, Unknown African American Company

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