The junior defense counsel in the case, Howard Noyd, now 93, said he and his partner had known from the beginning that "justice was sacrificed" and his clients were wrongly charged.
Walt Prevost, 65, the owner of a pharmacy in Watts, traveled to Seattle on behalf of his late father, Willie Prevost, who he said never talked about the case before his death in 1998.
"I talked to a lot of the other families, and they all say the same thing: They never talked about it. We knew absolutely nothing about [my father's] Army career. It was something he was really impacted by in an adverse way, so he would never talk about it," Prevost said.
"But I would say my family suffered severely as a result of the Ft. Lawton tragedy," he said. His mother was forced to raise her four children with no income or Army benefits while his father was in prison, he said.
Hamann said that though most of the prison terms were relatively short, the convicted soldiers would have been affected their entire lives.
"You're talking about 50 years of no GI Bill, no VA, no ability to get a civil service job with that dishonorable discharge," Hamann said.
Some reparations are being offered: back pay for the prison time. Snow was sent a $725 check, which he didn't bother to cash.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) is pushing legislation that would grant the soldiers full reparations.
"The main thing is he never got to do the things he wanted to do," said Beverly Evans, a South Los Angeles resident whose father, Luther Larkin, was convicted in the lynching. He died a month before she was born, in 1948.
James, the assistant Army secretary, ended his calm but emotional address with a declaration that he would not end it as most such speeches conclude.
"The usual closing is something like 'God bless the Army, and God bless the United States of America,' but frankly that doesn't seem right or appropriate for this time -- I have unpaid debts and unpaid dues," James said.
"Therefore, I would like to close by saying: God bless Samuel Snow, God bless the Ft. Lawton 28, and God bless your family and friends."