Montford Point Marines

Montford Point Marines

“The strange thing about you telling somebody they can’t do something, you make them more determined that they can.”
— Thomas Cork, original Montford Point Marine

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  • buzz alpert, E-5 1960-66

    I reported to PI on 19 June, 1960. I was from Chicago and the only other person in the platoon from Chicago was Al Jackson, a Black guy. Al and I became fast friends. I was a squad leader and loved the Marine Corps, but had a bad habit of laughing when they screamed at me. It reminded me of my old man who screamed if a feather dropped from the sky. I was motivated without screaming, but screaming was a part of boot camp. I paid dearly for that damn laughing. In the Corps if they said jump, I said how high. I was determined to do a good job and convince my old man I didn’t need him to diaper me. By the way, it didn’t work. I had a kid from another squad humiliate one of my squad members who got set back in training and put in my squad. I worked with him and got him through boot camp. This other guy said out loud that my squad member’s skin was horrible and he ought to have his face sand papered when he gets out. My guy looked at the deck. You could see he was embarrassed. My bunk mate, Mike Elardi was a rough tough guy from Jersey and he asked me what the jerk had said. In those days we could not speak without permission. I whispered to him and the idiot on the other side of the rifle racks said, “Don’t talk behind my back”. We were near the end of boot camp and polishing our dress shoes for final field. I walked over and said to this kid that I was not afraid of him turning me into the DI’s (he was an informant) and that I stood well in our platoon. Anyone with glasses was called ‘Coke Bottles’ or “Four Eyes Freak’ by the DI’s. At the end of my one sentence I called him a four eyed freak. I was mad that he humiliated my squad member. He called me a dirty Jew. I dropped my shoe and cloth and back handed him. I grazed him, but the 2nd back hand got him on the chin and he went down. Fighting meant the brig and the guys grabbed me, but I smiled, said I wasn’t excited and they let me go. The guy stood in front of me and said, “You better never turn your back on me.” I immediately turned around and put my back against his chest. I stood there for a few moments, turned around and said, “That’s what I thought.” He never said another word to me. I was glad I stood up for a fellow Marine who was intimidated by a traitorous informant on the men in our platoon to the DI’s.
    About half way through boot camp 3 southern buddies of mine who were big and strong said they were going to use the floor brushes on Al because he didn’t shower. These guys were 17 or 18 and I was 23. They looked upon me as an older brother and always asked my advice. They never said anything hateful to me so I was surprised. I told them to sit tight for a moment. I talked to Al and he said, “Buzz we shower at the same time every night. You see me!” I told Al I was not questioning whether he showered because I knew he did. I told him I would stand by him. These Southern men could have licked the floor up with me. I knew I would take a beating if I stood by Al, but I just could not turn away. I told them Al showered and what they said was not true. I also said I would not stand by if they did it. I am not sure why they didn’t do it. Maybe they realized it was wrong, maybe it was out of respect for me or because I was their friend and had stood by them. However, I learned as a young man that sometimes one person can make a difference in this life of ours and that incident reflected on my entire life. I didn’t think in the Marine Corps we had a place for fighting with one another when in fact all of us needed to stand shoulder to shoulder against those who would harm our great nation. I reached out to one of the Southern men a few years back and we had one heck of a nice long phone conversation. I sent him a Sgt. Grit lapel pin with the Marine flag and the American flag. The Marine Corps was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thirty years later I sent a letter to one of my junior DI’s, Jimmy McCall from Ashville, NC thanking him for putting the grit in my gut. The letter went through the Commandant. I told Mac I sure owed him a lot. He was only 3 years older than me, but what an influence he had on my life! About a year ago another Marine located his kids’ address and I wrote them each a note telling them what a great Marine and an American patriot their dad was. Sadly he had already passed away and the kids never responded. Semper Fi to all the men and women Marines, no matter the color, the religion or the ethnicity. God Bless America and the Marine Corps.

  • Major Larry

    SemperFi to All my Marine. Brothers. Thank you for all your sacrifices and hardships.

  • Murray Hermanson

    This was probably posted because of Black History Month is February. I knew a lot of guys who should be mentioned here. From boot camp to when I got out. I think if the stories of the Marines that I knew would have or could have been told we would not have a lot of the problems today. As I remember I only had one bad experience, and I called him bad apple Smith, and after a few weeks I think we were friends, I know I thought that way. A lot of these guys die and there stories never get told. It’s to bad. We were all Marines.Feb66-Nov69. Vietnam Dec66 to Aug68 back May69 to Aug69, with 1/9,2/9,3/9 and 2/26 and others. I ‘ll never forget them.

  • Paul

    Thank You Sgt. Grit for publishing this. There are still lots of Marines that know nothing about Montford Point Marines.

  • Cpl. William Reed, RVN 68′-69′

    In Nam, there weren’t black Marines and white Marines; they were just all Marines. One made me an honorary “Blue Eyed Soul Brother”. Means more to me than my CAR.

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