- Growing Up Black in Rural Mississippi: Memories of a Family, Heritage of a Place (1992)
- Green Berets in the Vanguard: Inside Special Forces, 1953-1963 (2001)
Chalmers Archers, Jr., was born April 21, 1928, and grew up in Tchula and Lexington, Mississippi. He recently retired as professor and administrator from Northern Virginia Community College, in Manassas, Virginia.
In 1992 he wrote the award-winning Growing Up Black in Rural Mississippi about his youth in the 1930s and 1940s. His second book covers his military service in the next decade: Green Berets in the Vanguard: Inside Special Forces, 1953-1963. It is published by the Naval Institute Press of Annapolis, Maryland in 2001, and covers his first six months at the Psychological Warfare Center, at Fort Bragg, home of the U.S. Army Special Forces. In 2003 he published Green Berets in the Vanguard: Inside Special Forces 1953-1963. In the memoir Chalmers, an African– American who served as a medical sergeant during the early days of U.S. Army Special Forces, provides an interesting story for those who are interested in special operations and in the initial stages of U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia.
The following is from the inside jacket cover of Green Berets in the Vanguard: Inside Special Forces, 1953-1963:
The author of an award-winning memoir about growing up black in Mississippi, Chalmers Archer relates his experiences as one of the first members of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces in the years between 1953 and 1965. His perspective is unique, not only as one of the first to wear the Green Beret but as a black man in the early days of armed forces integration.
Archer’s unit operated alongside the CIA, helped influence American foreign policy, participated in some of the earliest forays into Laos, and, long before Southeast Asia hit American headlines, was one of the first U.S. units to enter Vietnam. Archer trained the original Special Forces teams of the South Vietnamese army and participated in some of their earliest operations, many of them unknown until now because of their highly classified nature. He saved lives of the first American and Vietnamese soldiers injured in war and also witnessed the first American combat deaths in Vietnam.
A self-described soldier-teacher, Archer developed and spread the early gospel of special warfare while serving in the Philippines, Hawaii, Korea, Taiwan, and Panama, as well as in Southeast Asia. All of these activities are fully chronicled here, and Archer’s perspective as an African-American in an elite unit of the U.S. armed forces in the 1950s gives the memoir additional depth and insight. It is an uplifting — though sometimes harrowing — story of struggle in unfamiliar environments and an eye-opening account of events little known today.
Archer earned a doctorate in education at Auburn University and did postdoctoral work at the University of Alabama and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education and has published numerous articles in academic journals.
Archer died February, 24, 2013, in Manassas, Virginia, at the age of 85.
- The History Makers includes photo, biography, and interview with Chalmers Archer, Jr.
- Archer’s obituary appears in Washington Post.