I wanted to be a Marine since I saw that Iwo Jima picture. I joined on my eighteenth birthday, June 14th 1949.
President Truman had integrated the armed forces the year before. During boot camp they treated us Negroes the same as the white boys, which is to say like shit.
I was part of the First Marine Division, third battalion of the Fifth Marines. We invaded Inchon in September of 1950. We had almost three years of hard fighting against the North Koreans, the Chinese, the winter, the country. Just about everything but each other.
We didn’t see no skin color in combat. A Marine was a Marine. Our blood was equally red when we died for each other.
Back home in 1953, I got caught up in the Trumbull Heights race riots. These angry white faces screaming the worst kind of curses, throwing bottles and rocks.
I still don’t get it.