Signal Corps Photographic Center (SCPC), Astoria Studios
1st Sergent Percy D. Ricks, Jr.
In June 1946, Percy D. Ricks, Jr. became the first African-American to serve as a First Sergeant of a racially integrated unit at the Signal Corps Photographic Center (SCPC), Astoria Studios, Long Island City, New York. This milestone was just one of many during the life of a “man of quiet dignity” who was dedicated to serving his nation and the military profession.
He was assigned to Ft. Monmouth, NJ and at age 26, with less than five years service, was assigned to the SCPC at Long Island where he became the first African-American non-commissioned officer for an integrated unit. Ricks was assigned as the First Sergeant for the 9440th TSU Student Detachment. This action occurred two years before President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 that ended segregation of the Armed Services. The Astoria studio was the center for production of military training films used throughout the Army.
In January 2002, Rick’s was honored at Fort Gordon when the Arts and Motion Picture Room of the Signal Corps Museum was dedicated as the “First Sergeant Percy Ricks Room” and he was inducted as an honorary member of the Signal Corps regiment.