Banner Icon could not be loaded.

 

2nd Marine Logistics Group

Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marines, sailors honor heritage during Black History Month

By Cpl. Paul Peterson | 2nd Marine Logistics Group | February 20, 2013

Photos
prev
1 of 7
next
Turner G. Blount, one of the first African American Marines, and Louise Greggs, a representative from the national Montford Point Marines Museum, stand in a room of servicemembers during the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month celebration aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Montford Point Marines such as Blount fought through the barriers of racism to serve in the military during World War II.

Turner G. Blount, one of the first African American Marines, and Louise Greggs, a representative from the national Montford Point Marines Museum, stand in a room of servicemembers during the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month celebration aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Montford Point Marines such as Blount fought through the barriers of racism to serve in the military during World War II. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


Photo Details | Download |

Turner G. Blount, one of the original Montford Point Marines, answers questions about his time in the military during a Black History Month celebration hosted by 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Blount faced racial discrimination and segregation when he joined the Marine Corps during World War II.

Turner G. Blount, one of the original Montford Point Marines, answers questions about his time in the military during a Black History Month celebration hosted by 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Blount faced racial discrimination and segregation when he joined the Marine Corps during World War II. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


Photo Details | Download |

Guests at the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month celebration listen as Turner G. Blount, one of the original Montford Point Marines, shares his experiences aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. The unit hosted the event to recognize the modern diversity of the Navy and Marine Corps, and to honor the legacy of the Montford Point Marines.

Guests at the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month celebration listen as Turner G. Blount, one of the original Montford Point Marines, shares his experiences aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. The unit hosted the event to recognize the modern diversity of the Navy and Marine Corps, and to honor the legacy of the Montford Point Marines. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


Photo Details | Download |

Turner G. Blount, one of the original Montford Point Marines, shares his experiences as one of the first African American Marines during the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month celebration aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Blount and the other Montford Point Marines fought through the barriers of segregation and helped pave the way for African Americans in the Marine Corps.

Turner G. Blount, one of the original Montford Point Marines, shares his experiences as one of the first African American Marines during the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month celebration aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Blount and the other Montford Point Marines fought through the barriers of segregation and helped pave the way for African Americans in the Marine Corps. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


Photo Details | Download |

Servicemembers with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group stand and applaud Turner G. Blount, one the first African American Marines, during a Black History Month celebration held aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. The battalion invited Blount to share his experiences during World War II, when he and other African American Marines fought through racial barriers as they strived to serve their country.

Servicemembers with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group stand and applaud Turner G. Blount, one the first African American Marines, during a Black History Month celebration held aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. The battalion invited Blount to share his experiences during World War II, when he and other African American Marines fought through racial barriers as they strived to serve their country. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


Photo Details | Download |

Turner G. Blount, one of the first African Americans to serve in the Marine Corps, bows his head in prayer during the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month observation at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Blount joined the Marine Corps in 1943 and reported to Montford Point, N.C., where he underwent recruit training.

Turner G. Blount, one of the first African Americans to serve in the Marine Corps, bows his head in prayer during the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month observation at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. Blount joined the Marine Corps in 1943 and reported to Montford Point, N.C., where he underwent recruit training. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


Photo Details | Download |

Servicemembers with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group load their plates with food during their Black History Month observation at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. The unit hosted a potluck dinner as part of the event, which celebrated the diversity of 2nd Med. Bn. and the accomplishments of African American servicemembers.

Servicemembers with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group load their plates with food during their Black History Month observation at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 15, 2013. The unit hosted a potluck dinner as part of the event, which celebrated the diversity of 2nd Med. Bn. and the accomplishments of African American servicemembers. (Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)


Photo Details | Download |

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- He wanted to get his Social Security card so he could start working. He found out he was eligible for the draft instead.

It has been nearly 70 years since Turner G. Blount reported to Montford Point, N.C., where he and approximately 20,000 other African Americans completed their Marine Corps recruit training between 1942 and 1949.

Blount shared his experiences while serving with that historic first group of African American Marines during the 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group Black History Month celebration here, Feb. 15.

“We wanted the event to be special,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel D. Slaughter, who helped organize the event with the battalion’s equal opportunity committee. “These guys went through extensive training and the different adversities of being segregated. At the end of the day, they were Marines. They trained to be Marines and to serve their country just like everybody else.”

Blount and his fellow recruits were segregated from other Marine units. Their training facilities near Jacksonville, N.C., remained separate from their white counterparts even though the war they fought was the same.

“Someone was trying to do away with our country,” said Blount, a native of Keysville, Ga., as he casually recalled the early days of World War II. “They said there were going to be some places [we had to] go, and there were going to be some problems. I said, ‘Is that right?’”

Blount didn’t even know who the Marines were when he first began his enlistment process. He did hear they were “the best thing going,” and that was enough for him.

He joined the front lines of the war in the Pacific, where he fought through the invasions Tinian, Saipan and Okinawa.

“It was a rough time,” said Blount, as he recalled the various operations he took part in during the war. “We didn’t move fast because we had to sleep at night and dig our holes in the ground. We’d go in pairs: you and your friend … with your gun.”

The servicemembers quietly listened as Blount told them what it was like to lead his Marines during the island-hopping campaign that drew American forces closer and closer to the Japanese mainland.

After the war, Blount left the military. He returned to active duty again in 1950 during the Korean War and continued his career through the Vietnam War.

He eventually retired as a master sergeant and decided to remain in Jacksonville.

“I’m still a Marine,” laughed Blount as he addressed the room of servicemembers. “Don’t that make sense?”

In 2012, Blount and other Montford point Marines received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“This is American history,” said Louise Greggs, a representative from the national Montford Point Marines Museum. “He was not even allowed to go into the city of Jacksonville after 5 o’clock because of the color of his skin … [later] Mr. Blount was a four-term elected city councilmen who helped make decisions for the same city he was not even allowed in.”

The battalion’s leadership honored Blount with a small token of appreciation after his speech by presenting awards and flowers to the Blount family.

“It shows the young Marines and sailors that things weren’t always the way they are now,” said Slaughter. “That’s what the Marines and sailors took away from this. Even though you’re going to be faced with adversity, you’re going to have to stay strong and just push through.”
Image ImageHistory ImageMarines ImageMLG ImageMontford Imagepoint

No Comments


Add Comment

(required)
  Post Comment