TSU plans special Veterans Day program on Nov. 10 to honor alumnus and Medal of Honor recipient

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will honor its veterans on Nov. 10 and pay special tribute to a university alum and Medal of Honor recipient.

Lt. William McBryar, a Buffalo Soldier, was awarded America’s highest military decoration for his actions on March 7, 1890, during the Cherry Creek Campaign in the Arizona Territory. According to his citation, McBryar was distinguished for “coolness, bravery and marksmanship” while his 10th Cavalry troop was in pursuit of hostile Apache warriors.

McBryar died in 1941 at the age of 80, but he will be honored posthumously at TSU’s Veterans Day program. McBryar was 73 when he got his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from then-Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State University.

Dating back to the Civil War, there have been 3,498 Medal of Honor recipients. Of that number, 90 are black – and Lt. McBryar is one of them.

“We are acutely aware of the paucity of African Americans who have received such an honor,” said Dr. Mark Hardy, Tennessee State University’s vice president for academic affairs.  “We are very excited to be one of the institutions to have been a part of the educational experience our Medal of Honor recipient, Lt. William McBryar, received many years ago.”

Lt Col Sharon Presley, Air Force ROTC Det 790 commander stationed at TSU, echoed Hardy’s sentiment.

Display honoring Lt. William McBryar in TSU library (Submitted photo)

“From the perspective of a military officer, to know of someone who achieved the nation’s highest honor, is awe-inspiring,” Presley said. “He was a soldier’s soldier.”

McBryar went on to serve with the 25th Infantry in the Spanish-American war and fought at El Caney, Cuba. He also saw action in the Philippine Insurrection before demobilizing in San Francisco.

In 1906, after leaving the military, McBryar moved to Greensboro, North Carolina as a civilian and there he married Sallie Waugh, a nurse. Three years later, he worked as a watchman at Arlington National Cemetery and as a military instructor at what is now Saint Paul’s College.

In 1933, with a desire to complete his degree, McBryar attended Tennessee A & I. He graduated the following year, finishing a college education that started at Saint Augustine’s University before he enlisted in the military.

McBryar went on to write for Tennessee State’s publication, “The Bulletin,” addressing issues related to social justice and developments in Germany.

McBryar is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. A Tennessee Historical marker honoring him will be unveiled at TSU early next year.


Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.