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thedrifter
09-05-04, 08:07 AM
Posted on Sun, Sep. 05, 2004





Segregated Marines were unsung heroes

Historians seek to record on film struggles of first black leathernecks

By PAMELA HAMILTON

The Associated Press


BOWMAN — Largely unnoticed, James Glover Jr. delivered ammunition and supplies to fellow Marines fighting on the front lines of World War II on Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.

It was dangerous, low-profile but essential work,and Glover did not spend a lot of time thinking about glory. He had become one of the nation’s first black Marines by draft, not choice.

Decades have passed since the war, and still little is known about the almost invisible men who trained at a segregated camp called Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C., while white Marines trained at Parris Island.

Historians from both states now are working to record the story in a film documentary funded by a federal grant.

The $500,000 grant to South Carolina State University in Orangeburg was included in the federal defense budget and will fund the joint project between the historically black college and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Filmmakers hope the documentary will give the Montford Point Marines some of the same recognition as others who broke racial barriers in the military, such as the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black military pilots, and the Buffalo Soldiers, black men who served in the U.S. Army after the Civil War.

“I’ve gone to the movies and watched ‘Glory,’ watched Denzel (Washington),” said Clarence Willie, a retired Marine who worked for years to find money to make the film.” And I hear all the talk about the Tuskegee Airmen, which is neat stuff. And here are these guys struggling down at Montford Point during that time, trying to be Marines, and few people know about it.”

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring all branches of the military to accept recruits regardless of race. Nearly a year later, the Marine Corps began recruiting black enlistees. Not everyone was eager to sign up in the Marines, which had been reluctant to accept black recruits and assigned them mostly support jobs.

“They didn’t care nothing about your degree, just like everybody was stupid and dumb,” said Staff Sgt. LaSalle Vaughn, who retired from the Marines after 22 years on active duty. Vaughn said he was chief cook at Parris Island during the 1940s and had two young men with bachelor’s degrees as pot washers.

Vaughn, like James Glover, was drafted soon after the United States joined forces with its allies in World War II.

With a wife and three children at home on a farm in Bowman, Glover held no false ideas of glory on battlefields in foreign lands. For three years, he carried supplies to men on the front lines, never penned one letter home and left the Marines when his time was served.

“It was kind of rough supplying the fellows up there,” Glover said. “A lot of times, you get knocked off before you get to the front line. The next person comes by and takes your supply.”

At first it was frightening, but “after you did it for a long time, it just comes natural to you,” Glover said. “You pick up their stuff and go on and let that man there.”

When the first enlistees arrived in 1942 at Montford Point, a rural town near the North Carolina coast, the camp had only the most essential buildings and lacked what was commonplace at Parris Island. For instance, black Marines had no training pool to learn to swim until a year after the first trainees arrived. And there was a shortage of drill instructors.

“They put us in an isolated place, nothing but bears, snakes,” said Vaughn, who arrived at Montford Point and found the base in many ways unprepared to handle the hundreds of incoming Marines. “They purchased 50 acres of land just for me.”

Between 1942 and 1949 — when all military enlistees began training together regardless of race — more than 20,000 black Marines trained at Montford Point, now known as Camp Johnson at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Some black Marines did find their way to Parris Island. Vaughn and a handful of other black Marines were transferred there in 1944 to cook. Vaughn quickly learned there would be little mingling with white enlistees and calls the separation “the most awful thing they did.”

“Let me tell you, they built a barracks right on that base, just for the blacks,” Vaughn said. “We had to walk on certain streets in Parris Island. If you took sick, you couldn’t even go to the dispensary. We couldn’t even drill on the parade field together. I’ve been retired now almost 42 years, and I still haven’t got over it yet.”

Despite the mistreatment, Vaughn said, he continued to re-enlist. “I refused to get out,” Vaughn said, frowning and shaking his head with conviction. “I re-enlisted five different times.”

Vaughn, a native of New Orleans, and Glover were both young men from the segregated South. But as Marines, they expected something more.

“Well, a Marine is supposed to be a Marine regardless of what he is,” Glover said.

Few books record the story of the Montford Point Marines. Little about their stories excites — unlike other black pioneers in the military, said Melton McLaurin, a retired history professor at UNC-Wilmington who has taught courses on the South and race relations for nearly 30 years.

With the Buffalo Soldiers, the appeal is the American West. With the Tuskegee Airmen, the appeal is the image of the pilot, who to many Americans is “very much a modern-day cowboy.” The Tuskegee Airmen also were officers.

There is no such glamour with the Montford Point Marines, McLaurin said. No officers initially were among the men. They were enlisted men relegated mostly to low-profile jobs.

“They were carrying munitions in some of the dirtiest fighting the Second World War,” McLaurin said. “And they just never have attracted that type of attention. I’ve talked to young black Marines on the base within 50 feet of the (Montford Point Marine) museum who don’t know about them. It’s just sort of been forgotten.”

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/local/9585891.htm


Ellie

thedrifter
09-05-04, 08:09 AM
Little known about black WWII Marines trained at segregated camp

(Bowman-AP) September 4, 2004 - The Montford Marines may be World War Two's most forgotten veterans.

In a segregated Marine Corps, the black enlistees trained at what is now Camp Johnson at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. After training many ended in some of the war's toughest work carrying ammunition to the front of battle lines. Others ended up at Paris Island. There they worked as cooks and were not allowed to mingle with white Marines.

Their roles in the war and the challenges they faced may be getting a little more attention now.

A $5,000 grant will pay for a joint project with South Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington for a documentary.

Filmmakers hope the documentary will give the Montford Point Marines some of the same recognition shared by the nation's first black military pilots, the Tuskeegee airmen, and the Buffalo soldiers.

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=2259858&nav=0RaPQaE6

Ellie

thedrifter
09-05-04, 08:10 AM
Reunion features Montford Marines

PORT ROYAL: Documentary planned to highlight segregated boot camp.

Staff and wire reports
Carolina Morning News



Two of the United States' first black Marines will be the guests of honor at today's Community Family Reunion parade in Port Royal.

Retired Staff Sgt. LaSalle Vaughn and retired Sgt. Frederick Drake, both long-time Port Royal community activists, will be recognized for their work and dedication to the community and their roles in the Marine Corps' history.

"Both of those men are very special to this community. This is a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation," said Town Councilwoman Yvonne Butler, one of the reunion's organizers.

The history of Vaughn, Drake and other black Marines who trained at Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C., is the subject of an ongoing study of the segregated camp, a study researchers plan to record in a film documentary.

The $500,000 grant to South Carolina State University in Orangeburg was included in the federal defense budget and will fund the joint project between the historically black college and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Filmmakers hope the documentary will give the Montford Point Marines some of the same recognition as others who broke racial barriers in the U.S. military, like the Tuskegee airmen, the nation's first black military pilots, and the Buffalo soldiers, black men who served in the U.S. Army after the Civil War.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order that required all branches of the military to accept all recruits regardless of race. Nearly a year later, the Marine Corps began recruiting black enlistees.

Not everyone was eager to sign up in the Marines, which had been reluctant to accept black recruits and assigned them mostly support jobs.

"They didn't care nothing about your degree, just like everybody was stupid and dumb," said Vaughn, who retired from the Marines after 22 years on active duty. Vaughn said he was chief cook at Parris Island during the 1940s and had two young men with bachelor's degrees as pot-washers.

Vaughn was drafted soon after the United States joined forces with its allies in World War II.

When the first enlistees arrived at Montford Point in 1942 in the rural town near the North Carolina coast, the camp had only the most essential buildings and lacked what was commonplace at Parris Island.

For instance, black Marines had no training pool to learn to swim until a year after the first trainees arrived. And there was a shortage of drill instructors.

"They put us in an isolated place, nothing but bears, snakes," said Vaughn, who arrived at Montford Point and found the base in many ways unprepared to handle the hundreds of incoming Marines. "They purchased 50 acres of land just for me."

Between 1942 and 1949 - when all military enlistees began training together regardless of race - more than 20,000 black Marines trained at Montford Point, now known as Camp Johnson at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Some black Marines did find their way to Parris Island. Vaughn and a handful of other black Marines were transferred there in 1944 to cook. Vaughn quickly learned there would be little mingling with white enlistees and calls the separation "the most awful thing they did."

"Let me tell you, they built a barracks right on that base, just for the blacks," Vaughn said. "We had to walk on certain streets in Parris Island. If you took sick, you couldn't even go to the dispensary. We couldn't even drill on the parade field together. I've been retired now almost 42 years, and I still haven't got over it yet."

Because of the mistreatment, Vaughn said, he continued to re-enlist.

"I refused to get out," Vaughn said, frowning and shaking his head with conviction. "I re-enlisted five different times."

James Glover Jr. of Bowman, a native of New Orleans, was a young man from the segregated South but as Marines, he expected something more.

"Well, a Marine is supposed to be a Marine regardless of what he is," Glover said.

Few books record the story of the Montford Point Marines. Little about their stories appeal to mainstream culture unlike other black pioneers in the military, said Melton McLaurin, a retired history professor at the UNC-Wilmington who has taught courses on the South and race relations for nearly 30 years.

With the Buffalo soldiers, the appeal is the American West. With the Tuskegee airmen, the appeal is the image of the pilot, who to many Americans is "very much a modern-day cowboy." The Tuskegee airmen also were officers.

"They were carrying munitions in some of the dirtiest fighting in the Second World War," McLaurin said. "And they just never have attracted that type of attention. I've talked to young black Marines on the base within 50 feet of the (Montford Point Marine) museum who don't know about them. It's just sort of been forgotten."

Butler said town officials are hoping to convince the former Montford Point Marines to have their next reunion in Port Royal.

http://www.lowcountrynow.com/stories/090404/LOCportparade.shtml


Ellie