Louis, Joe “Barrow”, born on 13-05-1914 in a ramshackle dwelling on Bell Chapel Road, located about a mile off Route 50 and roughly six miles north of Lafayette in rural Chambers County, Alabama. Louis was the son of Munroe Barrow and Lillie (Reese) Barrow, and seventh of eight children. He weighed 11 pounds at birth. Both Louis’s parents were the children of former slaves, alternating between sharecropping and rental farming. Munroe was predominantly African American with some white ancestry, while Lillie was half Cherokee. Louis attended Bronson Vocational School for a time to learn cabinet-making and his mother attempted to get Joe interested in playing the violin. The Depression hit the Louis family hard, but as an alternative to gang activity, Joe began to spend time at a local youth recreation center at 637 Brewster Street in Detroit. Legend has it that he tried to hide his pugilistic ambitions from his mother by carrying his boxing gloves inside his violin case. By the end of his amateur career, Louis’s record was 50 wins against 4 losses, with 43 knockouts. Joe became a professional boxer and famous in the great fights against the German paratrooper or Fallschirmjäger, Max Schmeling.
Louis was known as: Never have his picture taken with a white woman (though he once was photographed with a white teenaged girl for a local paper in Michigan who was doing a story on Louis for her high school newspaper, Never gloat over a fallen opponent, Never engage in fixed fights and Live and fight clean. He volunteered to enlist as a private in the United States Army at Camp Upton, Long Island on 09-02-1942. Newsreel cameras recorded his induction, including a staged scene in which a soldier-clerk asked, “What’s your occupation?” and
Louis replied in a nervous rush, “Fighting and let us at them Japs.” For basic training, Louis was assigned to a segregated cavalry unit based in Fort Riley, Kansas. Realizing Louis’s potential for elevating esprit de corps among the troops, the Army placed him in its Special Services Division rather than deploying him into combat Louis would go on a celebrity tour with other notables including fellow boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, Ray died age 68, on 12-04-1889. Louis traveled more than 21,000 miles and staged 96 boxing exhibitions before two million soldiers. In England during 1944, he was reported to have enlisted as a player for Liverpool Football Club as a publicity stunt. Louis’s celebrity power was not, however, merely directed toward African Americans. In a famous wartime recruitment slogan, Louis echoed his prior comments of 1942: “We’ll win, because we’re on God’s side.” The publicity of the campaign made Louis widely popular stateside, even outside the world of sports. Louis was eventually promoted to the rank of sergeant, and was awarded the Legion of Merit medal for “incalculable contribution to the general morale.” Receipt of the honor qualified Louis for immediate release from military service on 01-10-1945.
Death and burial ground of Louis, Joe “Barrow”.
Louis died of a heart attack in Desert Springs Hospital, on 12-04-1981, age 66, and is buried on Arlington National Cemetery, Section 7a with full military honors. His funeral was paid for in part by former competitor and friend, Max Schmeling, who also acted as a pallbearer. He is buried with his wife Marta, who died age 78 in 1991, next to the 101st Airborne General Maxwell Taylor and the Marine Corps private Lee Marvin, technical sergeant, Flying Ace Lieutenant colonel, “Pappy” Boyington and General, Commander Combat B 7th Armored Division, nickname “Lucky Seventh” Bruce Clarke. The division lost 5.799 men in 172 days of combat. Enemy vehicles destroyed and prisoners captured, armored vehicles destroyed: 621; armored vehicles captured: 89; miscellaneous vehicles destroyed: 2.653; miscellaneous vehicles captured: 3.517; armament destroyed: 583 pieces; armament captured (only pieces larger than 50mm included): 361; and prisoners taken: 113.041.Close by also the grave of most decorated, Infantry Major Audie Murphy .the actor Lee Marvin and 101 Airborne General Maxwell Taylor, Air Force Major General. “Doolittle Raid” on Japan, James “Jimmy” Doolittle Flying Ace, Lieutenant colonel, “Papa” Boyington, and General, Commander Combat B 7th Armored Division, Bruce Clarke.