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Otto Reeves


Otto Reeves

k-Reeves, Otto Coleman. b. 1914, Cleveland, Ohio, African American, High school education, Single, Student, YCL 1936, received passport# 27636 San Francisco series on May 7, 1937 (1518 W. 5th Street, Dayton, Ohio), Sailed May 15, 1937 aboard the Georgic, Arrived in Spain on June 15, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, 24th BN, American Co. at Fuentes del Ebro, Mackenzie-Papineau BN, MG Co. Gun commander (?), Teruel,  KIA April 17, 1938, Belchite, during the Retreats.

Sources: SACB, Cadre, Moishe Brier, “Three Friends, Three Volunteers,” The Volunteer.

Photograph: Otto Reeves and Frank Alexander, Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, December 1937. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection ; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-0995. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.



Otto Reeves was born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 26, 1913. His father was the minister of a storefront church and a construction worker. When his father became unemployed during the Depression, Reeves left home to lessen the burden on his family. He eventually made his way to Los Angeles, California. Reeves, who had graduated high school in Dayton, was able to get a live-in job as a cook and housekeeper in a fraternity house at the University of Southern California. His political activities began when one of the white students in the fraternity invited him to go to a rally for the Scottsboro case. This student also took Reeves to Communist Party meetings and demonstrations. Reeves joined the YCL in 1936. He departed for Europe aboard the Georgic on May 15, 1937. In Spain, Reeves served with the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion as a machine gunner. Morris Brier, who served with him there, recalls that Reeves said he had come to Spain for two reasons: "One, to prove to myself that I am capable of risking my life for something I thought was correct, and two, I was testing the Communist party and its white members; whether they really meant they were our friends." During the fighting at Fuentes de Ebro, Reeves although badly hurt managed to pull another wounded soldier to safety. After recovering, Reeves was placed in command of a machine gun company. Reeves was wounded a second time during the Battle for Teruel. On April 17, 1938, during the Retreats, when his company was virtually surrounded and supplies were running low, Reeves volunteered to lead a patrol back to the battalion's command post to pick up ammunition. Neither Reeves nor any of the men in the patrol were seen again. It is believed that they were either killed in action or captured and subsequently executed. ~ Chris Brooks




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Frank Alexander (right) together with Otto Reeves (left), December 1937. (ALBA Collection)

Full Database Record

Last Name Reeves
First/Middle Name Otto
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
Education College/Univ Notes
Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes