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Montford Point

Culmer: I decided I wanted to go into the Marine Corps because there was a Marine who lived around the corner from us. This man was nothing but pride. And I knew that's what I wanted in my life. And at that time in my life and in the history of this country, blacks could not get in the Marine Corps.

Doughty: Montford Point Camp was a segregated camp where black men were garrisoned.

Culmer: Nobody ever heard of it, nobody ever knew about it and nobody ever knew it existed. There were only two boot camps in the Marine Corps for 99.9% of the Marines.

Reid: My drill instructor, he was the one that told us that if you're going to be a black Marine, you're going to have to be better than anybody else. Better.

Patterson: When I went in, actually we only had a few noncommissioned officers and one of the officers wound up having Montford Point named after him, Hashmark Johnson.

Evans: He didn't have to say anything, just the look in his eyes or stare, you knew what he meant. So and you just waited for him to speak.

Ferguson: You were subjected to a very intense training and you feel like a survivor, that you survived the training and now you're officially a Marine.

Reid: You were, felt as though you accomplished something within yourself.

Ferguson: Buffalo Soldier, Tuskegee Airman and the Montford Point Marines. It's the same thing.

Britton: We African-Americans were demanding the right to be on the battle lines to fight.

Doughty: We wanted to prove that we were just as good as a infantryman as anybody else. I found myself as a corporal and I took over a squad where we ended up on the island of Iwo Jima. I landed on D-Day, incidentally.

Patterson: When we got to Iwo Jima we had a – it was a city of ships. One of the most unbelievable sights you want to see in your life. All the landing craft were going around in a circle forming a line to come in in waves to the beach.

Doughty: First of all, the waves that were coming in against the banks, they were ferocious and sometimes covered you up. That was in my mind, would I ever see my brothers and sisters again, it was just pitch black. When the Japanese fired their weapons they get a good idea of where they were located. From out of that, there were two of my squad that earned both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.

Hooper: It was still segregated up until the Korean War. The Marine Corps was one of the first branches of the military to start to integrate.

Cork: And I was the only black in the outfit. At 31 Marines, only one black. They wouldn't say a word to me, so when we'd get Inchon, now these guys now beginning to warm up to me because they realized that we depend on each other, well, our lives depend on one figure or the other. So we get to Chosin Resevoir, the Chinese had cut us off completely. So now we've got to get ourself out of there. Now the worst part of that is, it's 35 below zero and we run out of food, run out of water, run out of ammo. My boot was literally froze to my foot. When my boot came off, part of my foot come off with it. So all my toes on my right foot are gone.The training I got in boot – at Montford Point saved my life.

Griffith: We were coming home from overseas and we stopped at the railroad station and they saw all these signs, no colored allowed, white only and we took all them signs down. And we told them, we didn't go to war for the United States to come back to see this.

Foreman: I wasn't drafted, I volunteered to wear that uniform and I respected the uniform and I had hoped my fellow citizens would have respected it also. But that didn't necessarily happen.

Britton: I have a friend who was on his way home after boot camp, he was sitting there having been passed over by two buses when suddenly a big burly white Marine came and he came over and he said, "Gee, I didn't realize that there were black folks in the Marine Corps now." He said, "Well, welcome." He said, "How long have you been in," he asked him said, and he said, "By the way, why are you waiting over here, why aren't you getting on the bus?" And he said ,"Every time the bus comes in, the white folks are put on first and I can't get on." With that the white Marine called out, "Who's in charge of this bus station?" And the manager of the bus station came over and he said, "You see that Marine over there?" He said, "When the next bus goes out of here, I want to see his butt in one of those seats." This is 1943. The commonality, the common brotherhood between Marines was shown at that time.

Britton: During World War II and afterwards, the highest rank that a black person could go was to that of six stripe or sergeant in the military. Captain Frederick C. Branch became the first officer in November 10, 1945, after the war had ended.

Mack: Then years later we had warrant officers, Annie Grimes. She is the third black woman to come in the Marine Corps. She's the first to be commissioned.

Lawrence: People like me, other minorities in the Marine Corps, had the opportunity to be a part of this organization because of their sacrifices.

Joyce: Being a drill instructor myself, I never forgot the struggles that they went through. The sky is the limit of things that I can do because of these Marines.

Foreman: It's a different attitude, a complete different attitude. And back in the days when we were coming along, I don't believe that would ever happen.

END