At last, honors for the first black Marines – USATODAY.com

 

For decades Joseph Smith, 87, didn’t want to think or talk about his time in the Marine Corps.

  • Long time coming:  It took nearly 70 years, but Joseph Smith said he finally feels like a U.S. Marine.

    By Adam Gerik, for USA TODAY

    Long time coming: It took nearly 70 years, but Joseph Smith said he finally feels like a U.S. Marine.

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By Adam Gerik, for USA TODAY

Long time coming: It took nearly 70 years, but Joseph Smith said he finally feels like a U.S. Marine.

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“Whenever military service came up I couldn’t truthfully say, ‘Yeah, I’m a proud Marine,'” Smith said. “I tried to say it and it wouldn’t quite come out.”

Smith was one of thousands of African Americans who joined the Marine Corps during World War II and then learned they would be shipped off to a separate boot camp for blacks and serve in segregated support units commanded by white officers.

Along the way they suffered indignities — limited to support assignments while on duty, and confronted with racism when they were home on leave. After their service, they were not encouraged to stay in the military. Most faded from history.

At last, honors for the first black Marines – USATODAY.com

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About eddielouis

Retired USN BS Degree
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