The Washington Post

‘They are Marines, period’


Regarding the July 21 news article “A historic nominee to lead U.S. Africa Command”:

Reflecting on Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley’s nomination to become the first African American four-star Marine general made me think of the debt all Americans owe to the Montford Point Marines, the first official Black Americans to serve in the Marine Corps. They entered the lily-white Marines only in mid-1942, more than a year after Marine Corps Commandant Maj. Gen. Thomas Holcomb defiantly declared: “If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes, I would rather have the whites.”

Although they weren’t deployed to fight on the front lines, they performed the essential duty of offloading ammunition and munitions from landing craft to the beaches and then farther inland. After demonstrat­ing their bravery on Saipan and Guam while performing their tasks under fierce enemy shelling, Lt. Gen. Alexander Vandegrift, Holcomb’s replacemen­t, stated that “the Negro Marines are no longer on trial. They are Marines, period.”

I’m hoping that the surviving Montford Point Marines will be invited to witness the product of their groundbrea­king service when a fourth star is placed on Lt. Gen. Langley’s uniform.

Paul L. Newman, Merionstat­ion, Pa.

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