"A lot of people don’t know about the Buffalo Soldier; don’t know what a Buffalo soldier is. They would ask me, 'are you from Buffalo?' " says Sgt. Sanders Matthews.
And the Buffalo Soldiers are still not well known. That's why the 95-year-old Matthews says he and his fellow soldiers should be honored with a monument to tell their story.
"It wasn't easy for a black soldier to be in the military at that particular [time]," he said.
In 1939, Sergeant Mathews was a soldier in a segregated army -- part of an elite group called the Buffalo Soldiers.
"They brought the best of the horsemen here to West Point," he said.
Matthews is the last living member of that unit. He says he and his fellow Buffalo Soldiers were hand-picked to train cadets in the art of fighting on horseback.
"We never had a day off. We worked seven days a week," Matthews said.
But, he added, despite being the best at what they did, they were still treated like second-class citizens -- often having physical confrontations because of the color of their skin.
"We fought every day when we left West Point to come down to Highland Falls," Matthews said. "Highland Falls was just like being in Mississippi."
Despite all that, he and his fellow Buffalo Soldiers never lost their pride.
"You didn't see a Buffalo Soldier without his shoes shined," Matthews said, "his clothes being pressed properly."
"I was the first African-American commandant," says Major General (Ret.) Fred Gorden, who said he knew Matthews from his days as a cadet. "You can ask him how he remembers me as a cadet, but in 1962, there was only one African-American cadet."
Gorden said the Academy is in the midst of creating an appropriate monument that will be historically accurate, adding he hopes an announcement will happen in the very near future.
"If God is willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be here," Matthews said. "When you say Buffalo Soldier, it’s me. It's me."