FORT BENNING, Ga. — In the shadow of the installation’s iconic parachute towers, Fort Benning and Army officials joined local lawmakers for a small ceremony Tuesday dedicating a memorial plaque in the approximate place where Pvt. Felix Hall was last seen alive.
Hall, a 19-year-old Black man from rural Alabama, joined the segregated 24th Infantry Regiment in August 1940 as the nation prepared for World War II.
It was after a shift at the installation’s sawmill on a Wednesday afternoon — Feb. 12, 1941 — when Hall said goodbye to two friends from the 24th Infantry Regiment and started towards the post exchange.
He never made it.
Six weeks later, an engineer unit found his body in a ravine near the Chattahoochee River, with hands tied behind his back, feet bound with baling wire and a noose around his neck.
Another plaque will soon mark the place where Army officials believe his body was found.
Hall is the only known victim of extrajudicial lynching to have died on a U.S. military base, though another Black soldier stationed at Fort Benning was killed by a military policeman under dubious circumstances in March 1941.
A 2016 investigation by the Washington Post revealed Hall’s story for the first time through a Federal Bureau of Investigation case file. The FBI had investigated the case alongside the War Department, but they ultimately did not make any arrests.
The Post’s investigation faulted the FBI and War Department for an apparent failure to take the investigation seriously.
The FBI identified suspects but seemingly ignored potentially critical evidence and leads, including a report that the day before Hall disappeared, his civilian supervisor at the sawmill had threatened to kill him if he came back to work there.