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AVERET CORLEY

July 23rd, 2004


a thumbnail image of Corporal Averet Corley Corporal Averet CorleyCorporal Averet Corley, born in Indianapolis, Indiana, entered the Corps in 1945 and was recalled for a tour of duty during the Korean War, but served at Montford Point. He left the Corps in 1951, completed a bachelor's degree in agriculture at Purdue University and a Master's in Education at Indiana University and went on to a successful career as an educator. He resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.


INTERVIEWER: State your full name.

AVERET CORLEY: Averet Wallace Corley.

INTERVIEWER: Today's date. Today's date.

AVERET CORLEY: (OVERLAPPING) Today's date (STAMMERS) um...

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) July.

AVERET CORLEY: July (STAMMERS) 23rd.

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS)

AVERET CORLEY: Uh, 2004.

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) Then can you tell us a little bit about your background before you, uh, came into the Marine Corps. Talk to us, just give us a little, maybe a little biological, uh, not (STAMMERS) biographical sketch, uh, of, of you before you went into the Marine Corps.

AVERET CORLEY: Okay I was, uh, I went to public schools in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, October 11th, 1927. And I went to public schools and my second year, (SOUNDS LIKE) Addux High School I dropped out. And joined the Army Air Corps. And uh, I was sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison and from there, from the induction center, I was sent to Kessler Field, Mississippi.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) That was in 1169 training we were at Keeferfield, Mississippi. Which was the feet of (SOUNDS LIKE) route Petusky Airmen. Uh, they sent me then to Bear Field after preflight training to Bear Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Where they found my age out, I was 16. And they gave me an honorable discharge and I wasn't satisfied with civilian life, so I turned around, July 21st, 1945 and went into the Marine Corps into selective service.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Put my age up. And I was sent to Montford Point, uh, Camp Lejeune and there in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Uh, I took boot camp, uh, well, it was a camp where at the time it, the Marine Corps was segregated. And, uh, all Black troops took all their training at Montford Point. And, uh, it was intensive training. At the time I went in the war was still going on. And the training was, uh, very intensive and, uh, they wanted you to, they gave you all phases of (STAMMERS) Marine Corps training.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) The same as all Marines got. The training and equipment and everything was equal, as far as I could see, uh, is the, with all Marines. They didn't, uh, spare any, anything on equipment and training. Uh, as I said, boot camp was very hard. Very harsh, at that time. But having prior military service, I was able to deal with it. Military is military.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Uh, I was there after boot camp, I was sent to guard warehouses in Norfolk, NOB, Norfolk, Virginia. And after that, uh, I reenlisted in March 6th, 1946 for two years. And, um, I was sent to communications school at Montford Point and, uh, it was a three month school, very intensive training to, as a message center man and telephone lineman. (STAMMERS) 2511. Um, a new department was coming out the Sixth Replacement to (STAMMERS), to be sent to Saipan to replace the 52nd Defense Battalion.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And it's called heavy antiaircraft visional. And, uh, (STAMMERS) we were sent to Saipan, uh, to relieve the low point men to be (STAMMERS) , from the 52nd to be discharged. And, uh, (STAMMERS) my experiences on Saipan, uh, varied. They had us guarding 2,000 Japanese prisoners before they repatriated them back home to Japan. And then, uh, we also did all of the telephone work on Saipan that had been destroyed and a lot of the electrical line work.

INTERVIEWER: Okay. When you, let's go a little bit from, uh, the general to the specific. Now, let's hone in on this, uh, getting, (STAMMERS) coming into the Marine Corps. From the, from the very moment you realized that you were going into the Marine Corps, tell us a little bit about what happened that led up to your actually walking through the door at, uh...

AVERET CORLEY: Okay.

INTERVIEWER: ...Montford Point.

AVERET CORLEY: Um, I, as I told you before, I went through selective service, put up my age, got a draft card and, uh, was drafted and at the examining station, uh, I was put first in the Navy group and the Marine Corps sergeant came over and said, I need five guys for the Marine Corps and I was the fifth one. Really, really I wanted the Marine Corps. And I was lucky enough to, uh, be the fifth one. We were sent, um, from Indianapolis to Wilson, North Carolina by train.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And, uh, (STAMMERS) Trailway bus, uh, at that time, there was no railroad from Wilson, North Carolina to Jacksonville. And Trailway buses ran you from Wilson to Jacksonville where Jacksonville bus station there was a (SOUNDS LIKE) six by there waiting. (STAMMERS) And, uh, to carry you down that long lane to Montford Point.

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) A six by?

AVERET CORLEY: Six by is, is (STAMMERS) a big truck, big, uh, uh, uh, truck, uh, heavy duty truck. And with a Marine waiting in there and we, they used that as transportation to carry, there was five of us to carry all five of us to Montford Point. When we got there, it was a hut, called Hut Number One. Where you got the word.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And (STAMMERS) it, you got the word and here sits the big sergeant and, uh, two or three other Marines. And, uh, they gave you the word, what you would do and (STAMMERS) have you run everywhere you went, everything, yes sir, no sir. And you would, uh, actually they were going to erase all civilians, uh, traits and things, uh, and make you a Marine.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) You're going to forget everything that you had learned in civilian life and you're going to relearn, they retaught you, uh, about the Marine Corps. Uh, it was harsh because they, back then, the Marine Corps, if you, uh, forgot something they would impress you and impress you there'd be some (STAMMERS) vicissitude. It'd be maybe a slap up side of the head or stamp on the toe or have you doing, uh, maybe (STAMMERS) holding your hand out with an M1 on your hand for two hours.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And things of this sort. It wasn't to really be cruel, it was just to impress you on, make you not forget what they told you. And during that time, as I said, it was war time and they could only tell you once and if you didn't learn it then, uh, they would make you learn it. Um, we had excellent DIs. They, they weren't cruel. I'm not saying that what, (STAMMERS) they (STAMMERS) they just wanted you to learn and they only had a short time to teach you.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And, because a lot of the units, they were sending units from Montford Point overseas every week. And, uh, we, we had to go through boot camp for 12 weeks. We had to qualify on the rifle range. We had, uh, Stone Bay and, uh, uh, it was very, (STAMMERS) this was as I said, it was very intensive training.

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) The trip down from, uh, Indianapolis. Realizing you were from the north, and you were getting ready to go to training in the deep south.

AVERET CORLEY: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) (STAMMERS) Tell us a little bit about your (LAUGH) perceptions and maybe some things that happened to open your eyes and so forth.

AVERET CORLEY: Yes. I, um, I hadn't thought of that aspect of it, but yes. Being young, uh, this is all new to me. And being from the north (CLEARS THROAT) I hadn't dealt with the south at all. I knew nothing about, you know, segregation, as such. Just, uh, overt segregation. You know. The uh, (CLEARS THROAT) when we got to, um, the bus station at Jacksonville they had signs. Colored and White.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And the Colored section was around to the back and the water fountains and things you couldn't use, the general toilets and things that they had Colored toilets. And I looked and I couldn't understand that, you know. And (STAMMERS) being young, I said, well maybe that's just the custom, I don't know.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) But I didn't, uh, uh, when I got, later on when I took liberty I made sure I could go as far north which would be on a 72 hour pass, to Washington or somewhere where I won't be bothered with the prejudice. But Washington wasn't all that great either, at that time. But, uh, uh, I dealt with it. Because, uh, I wanted the Marine Corps, I was, after a while, being so young, I was very impressed with the Marine Corps. And that's all I knew.

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) Did you ever go on liberty in Jacksonville?

AVERET CORLEY: Yes, Jacksonville (LAUGH) they had very little to offer. And as I said in, in (SOUNDS LIKE) J-ville they had, um, every, all the Black, uh, community was across the railroad tracks. They had one little USO was part library and the USO. And they had, uh, two or three juke joints (STAMMERS) the, uh, two or three old taverns that you go (STAMMERS) but going downtown you can forget that. Because people would not accept you downtown.

INTERVIEWER: Any specific instances you can remember? That, uh, when you went out in town. What, what happened?

AVERET CORLEY: Well, I can remember on the buses going on liberty, uh, this is after boot camp. Uh, (STAMMERS) uh, if the bus was full, uh, of uh, Black (STAMMERS) , Black Marines they sometime and (STAMMERS) a White Marine didn't have any place to sit, they would tell the Black Marines to get off the bus and give him your seat. (STAMMERS) It was overt prejudice.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And I, (STAMMERS) I couldn't understand that. And a lot of the times it embarrassed the White Marines 'cause a lot (LAUGH) old guys couldn't understand it either. You know. And but that was the custom of segregation was the cut, was the law of the land back then. And, uh, you just dealt with it. (STAMMERS) You if you rebelled, you're going to get in trouble now. The Marine Corps on the base, the base was square away base.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And it was all Black base and, uh, the highest, uh, (STAMMERS) a Black Marine could get was master sergeant. And they did have officers of the day that were White. And after 1,600 they'd leave, there'd be, like, one officer of the day left on, on the base and everything else was Black. So, consequently, on the base, you weren't bothered too much with racial tensions, racial prejudices and things.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Because there's, uh, you felt secure. It was all Black. (STAMMERS) Everywhere you look there's a Black (STAMMERS) , you had Black master sergeants, you had Black guy over the slop shoot. Black guy over the warehouse. But you had White officers but they would leave and go to the Cadmont Point which was the White camp (STAMMERS) Camp Lejeune after 1,600. And it would just be one officer a day on base. The base was very nice. And that, that was your sanctuary really.

INTERVIEWER: Did you... (TECHNICAL)

INTERVIEWER: (CONTINUED) If you could paint a picture, uh, of a, of a day at camp, not during the training cycle, you know and all that. But, I'm talking about camaraderie with the guys and, you know, things you all did in your off duty time, on the base. If you could paint a picture of the way things were at Montford Point when you were there, talk, can you talk to us about it?

AVERET CORLEY: Yeah, um, Montford Point as I said, (STAMMERS) it was a new, (STAMMERS) fairly new camp and facilities (STAMMERS) uh, with the exception of recruit depot area, were new. And, and nice. They had brand new, uh, hostess house, theater, there, uh, uh, everything basically was (STAMMERS) in the new camp. So, consequently, um, that helped (STAMMERS) in the morale, but guys were just like a fraternity.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) (STAMMERS) All Montford Pointers, uh, they had one thing in common and the boot camp as you went through indoctrinated you in Marine Corps way. Which is also like a brotherhood. And, uh, (STAMMERS) you, uh, struck up acquaintances that you (STAMMERS) uh, kept all through your life. The guys that you knew, especially your boot camp buddies.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Uh, when I was at the headquarters, I worked in communications there in the, uh, switchboard and so forth. And, those guys, uh, we were a small group and we were just like brothers. They had a recreational (STAMMERS) facilities there. We had, uh, uh, (STAMMERS) football team, we had basketball. And by the way, they played college teams. They played like Tuskegee (LAUGH) and uh, because a lot of these guys, I, like, (SOUNDS LIKE) Ben Whaley who later played with the New York Giants and (STAMMERS) and was the coach at Hampton, uh, we had guys that, uh, were good athletes.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And had been in a lot of these, a lot of Montford Pointers had been to college. We had Simons, who, uh, had a Doctor of Jurisprudence and the only thing he could get, (STAMMERS) could be was master sergeant. We had guys with Ph.D.s We had, uh, then we had guys with, uh, uh, it varied. (STAMMERS) It was the whole spectrum of society.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) But a lot of the guys down there, (STAMMERS) I can think of Coach Backer Wilberforce. Uh, a lot of them were college guys. You know, but the highest rank they could get was master sergeant because they were, uh, commissioning Black, uh, Blacks at that time in the Marine Corps. Um, later on, in '45 they did have, (SOUNDS LIKE) Brance did make second lieutenant.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) But, uh, be, prior to that they, we didn't have any Black officers in the Marine Corps. But, the base was, uh, was very nice so the (STAMMERS) guys got on the, you go over to the slop shoot with your buddies and drink beer. You could, uh, (STAMMERS) they made the base as nice as they could because they knew you were in a segregated situation down south.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) So, as long as you got to the base and stayed on base, you felt it was a sanctuary, and, uh, it, as I said, the facilities were nice. They had a brand new theatre. We had a White guy named Troop, Lieutenant Troop and he was over the band and he was also over special, he was special services officer. Now, he was, he knew nothing about prejudice.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) He was aprejudice. And it burned him up when he would have to face that with us, and, uh, he wrote the song, Route 66, and, uh, very liberal guy. Just nice guy all the way around. I'm trying to think of some of those guys that, uh, but it was a, (STAMMERS) I was, uh, I felt very comfortable at Montford Point.

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) Go back and add, go back a little bit. The day that you left home, do you remember that day?

AVERET CORLEY: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me a little bit about that day. I mean, (STAMMERS) what was all going on and family and everything. (STAMMERS)

AVERET CORLEY: Well. (LAUGH) The, (STAMMERS) the reason, uh, I, uh, I went in service in the first time, in March 17th, 1944, uh, I put my age up. There's a bunch of guys in the ROTC class and we wanted to get in the joints down on Indiana Avenue and you could, only way you could in there was to give a Selective Service card.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) So all of us went down to the Selective Service and got (STAMMERS) and got a card and filled, (STAMMERS) got a, um, uh, uh, Selective Service card, filled it out. A week later every one of us got 1A. And, uh, so guys said, well, I'm going to tell my age 'cause we were underage. 16, one guy was 14. I said, I'm going to ride it through and see what happens.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And, uh, basically, you'd (STAMMERS) just get swept up then. It was during wartime and during the draft and as long as you look old enough and could walk, you were gone. (LAUGH) And, you had no recourse and you could just tell people all day long, well I changed my mind. They're not listening to that.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And the Marine Corps especially. If, if they felt that you were Marine Corps material, and by the way, their standards were exceptionally high. They had, uh, (STAMMERS) the physical standard, you (STAMMERS) couldn't be colorblind, you had to be A number one as far as physical. Uh, but, uh, that's how I got caught up in the thing and my mother and father didn't know, my mother and step father, they didn't know where I was.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And I'd been, I was down in boot camp and, uh, they sent my clothes home. We wore, we (STAMMERS) , first thing we got was what they call 782 gear. 782 gear was a bucket and all your canvas and your rifle and bayonet. But you still had Jody clothes on you. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Hasn't been any clothes on for two weeks.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) You didn't get any dungarees or anything for two weeks. So when you sent your clothes home, they were torn and dirty and everything. And my (STAMMERS) , my mother got that and (STAMMERS) she said, well what on Earth is this. And where are you? She didn't know anything about me, so finally we communicated and I told her, I'm down in boot camp. (LAUGH) But, uh, that's basically what, uh, what happened. I just rode it through.

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) When you, when you left the, uh, (STAMMERS) I guess when they called you down there, and (STAMMERS) I guess they (STAMMERS) put you on a (STAMMERS) bus or train or something like that. And, (STAMMERS) what (STAMMERS) what was it like with all the other guys, you know? That, that, were there.

AVERET CORLEY: Well, there wasn't (STAMMERS) , in Indiana, uh, there wasn't but five of us and another guy from Indianapolis and myself (STAMMERS) Indianapolis. Most of them from (STAMMERS) around the region, around Gary and up in that region. And, uh...

INTERVIEWER: White, Black?

AVERET CORLEY: No, we was all (STAMMERS) , everything was segregated at that time. There wasn't any White, Black. You didn't go down with the White Marines. When you took your physical at the Armory, it was all Black time to take physical. When you went, everything was (STAMMERS) , it was, even Indianapolis was segregated. It was the law of the land back then.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And you didn't come in contact with, with White. Only (STAMMERS) uh, during the time of, uh, when he held your hand up for the oath and this Marine major down in the federal building, uh, enlisted you. And by the way, (LAUGH) he enlisted you, now these guys are drafted and you still, he said you volunteer for the Marine Corps.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) You weren't volunteering, you were drafted. Of course it didn't make me any difference 'cause I wanted to go anyway. But, the, these guys were actually drafted and still had to stand up and say, I volunteer. That's the way the Marine Corps worked back during the war.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me, uh, after, after boot camp, what happened (STAMMERS) what happened to you?

AVERET CORLEY: Okay, after boot camp I went to Norfolk, Virginia to guard, uh, uh, warehouses. And, uh, NOB, Norfolk. And, uh, I did have an incident there. There were a bunch of German POWs that had, uh, clean, uh, dungarees on. Had PW on their back and it was hot walking around that warehouse. And the PX was over close by. And I, and I wanted to go over there and get a malted milk or a Coke.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And Blacks couldn't go in there. But I had to pay the German POW a quarter to get me a malted milk. (STAMMERS) And he couldn't understand that. He said, you're a Black soldier, well he didn't know soldier Marine. He said, you're American Black, you're American soldier. If I can get you to go in there. This is your country.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) (STAMMERS) And he did it. He (STAMMERS) , he said, I'll get your malted milk and anything else you want. And he was, he was, they were just standing around picking up cigarette butts and things. They weren't doing anything. And he could not understand. And that kind of got to me. You know. Here a prisoner of war (LAUGH) has more privileges than a Black American, you know.

INTERVIEWER: And what, what, what after that? After that next...

AVERET CORLEY: Well, (STAMMERS) after coming back from Norfolk, uh, I worked, uh, guys were coming back from overseas then. The 51st Defense Battalion was coming back. (STAMMERS) These short timers. (STAMMERS) And, uh, guys were coming back from depot companies and things, they, for discharge. This is the latter part of, of, uh, '45, (STAMMERS) first part of '46.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And they put me as a, uh, to handle these troops coming back. And here I am, little old young PFC and, and these hundreds of troops are coming back and I was there, uh, I took them to the warehouse, to, and to the, for the physicals and everything. I forget what they call that. (STAMMERS) Particular job. But they didn't have nobody so, because at that time, Marine Corps was downloading after the war, right after the war.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) So I did that up until the time I, I, uh, reenlisted, in March 6th, 1946 for two years. And then they sent me to, uh, communication school for three months. And, uh, I forget the guys that was over there but (STAMMERS) a lot of these guys that taught us were combat, Guadalcanal veterans, they, now, they were White guys that taught us communications.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Uh, we, they taught us cryptography, they taught us semaphore, 'cause they were going to use us at Annapolis to flag in ships and stuff like that, but they changed that. And they taught us telephone lineman and message center procedure. So we were well trained for three months. And, uh, it took three months school.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And then they gave you a spec number of, uh, 25, it was 641 then. Later on it changed to 2511 and you carried that, I guess, through your whole, I carried that through my whole military career in the Marine Corps. That spec number.

INTERVIEWER: Did you go overseas?

AVERET CORLEY: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Tell us about that.

AVERET CORLEY: Well, the (STAMMERS) 52nd Defense Battalion was broken up in segments and they were coming home for guys eligible for discharge. So, they had to get a, a replacement for them because they left their equipment over there. They were, had anti aircraft (STAMMERS) equipment. 90 millimeters and, and, uh, so forth. And, uh, they were in the (SOUNDS LIKE) Marianas, Guam and Saipan.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) So, they started, uh, replace, the 6th Replacement, they designated it Heavy Anti Aircraft Divisional. And, we went, uh, from, uh, Montford Point to (STAMMERS) , to, uh, Hampton Road, Virginia and got aboard ship USS Lejeune, (STAMMERS) the ship was the USS Lejeune. And, uh, uh, then we went through, went to Panama.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Went through (STAMMERS) to Panama for, well, Panama over there was an incident in Panama. Panama was the American side's Colon. It run by Americans. And it worse than Mississippi, Colon was. That's where you first entered the Canal. They announced aboard ship, all Black troops had to stay on board and White troops could have liberty. Because in that segment of, uh, (STAMMERS) in Colon, the Americans didn't want Blacks mingling with the, the other folks.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) (STAMMERS) So, we had to stay aboard. Our ship docked right by the Club Martinique. We could look off the weather deck, we could look over at sea, these guys having liberty and having a good time, and we couldn't do anything. One or two tried to climb down the ropes and, but the rat shields, uh, which is a rat shield, big metal thing, that kept them from going over. (LAUGH) So they had to turn around and come back.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) But we ran into that. Now the odd thing about it, when we got to (STAMMERS) on the other side to the Panamanian side, (STAMMERS) after we got through the Gatun Locks, you could have liberty or anything you wanted. The Panamanian government was different from the government of Colon which is run by Americans.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) I'm telling you, this, this prejudice was (STAMMERS) pervasive back then. I, you know, so, then we didn't go directly overseas. We came back to Oakland and Army, Army base, it was an Army base, but really it was a Navy base. And we picked up some, some Naval dependents. We picked up, uh, some people that were going to China, going to China (STAMMERS) aboard our ship.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Then we headed out. Well, they didn't have enough security guards aboard the USS Lejeune. (STAMMERS) The USS Lejeune APA 74. And, uh, so they used us as security guards. So, you can say in essence we were the first Black sea going (LAUGH) Marines really. But we stayed aboard that ship for over a month.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And, uh, they would use us to, to keep the troops and the officers territory and (STAMMERS) , and the civilian territory separated. And we would, uh, we would just use the security aboard the ship. Well, we went to Guam after that, first. And let off some of these dependents. Then, our outfit went to Saipan. And, uh, I remember the first, when we got there, uh, we had no facilities.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And the, uh, the, the, they had a big Japanese POW camp and they fed us. They had the Japanese, cooked us a meal. These prisoners. And, uh, so we were just laying out that night before we could even put tents us, we had no shelter or anything in, in ponchos. Just lay out on the ground in ponchos 'cause you didn't have any, uh, no tents, no nothing. You just on (STAMMERS) the beach.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) You just there. Then we guarded these Japanese for (STAMMERS) 2,000 Japanese. I didn't know that they took that many prisoners in, on Saipan but evidently (STAMMERS) 'cause all you hear is the Japanese gave up. They were tenacious. Well, 2,000 of them wasn't tenacious. So, but, um, then after we repatriated them. Now, we were a trained outfit. And we put all that electrical and telephone setup on the island.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Uh, after we (STAMMERS) uh, uh, were training and everything, they, uh, and repatriated the Japanese back to Japan a Lieutenant Colonel Stephenson, I believe it was, came to us and said, uh, due to the fact that the Marine Corps still segregated, and you have to depend on other units, we're going to break you up and send you to Guam as a depot company.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) So we, we went to, uh, uh, 49th Depot on Guam. Now, uh, there was an incident on Saipan I can tell you about. Uh, (STAMMERS) there was all island dance and they dropped leaflets in each area, like, Mount (WORD?) area. They, there was a White outfit and, uh, up on top of Mount Topicha, I think 11 service companies. And, and we were way down the north part, (STAMMERS) between Tanapei and Marpe Point.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Marpe Point which was the Japanese air base. (BACKGROUND NOISE) At one time. We were down to, you (STAMMERS) heard of suicide cliff, we were down in that area. And, uh, but they dropped these leaflets said, we having an all island dance. Everybody invited, come to, uh, NOB, uh, Mount Topicha, at certain times, so forth. Well we went up there thinking they going to have Black Red Cross girls flown in from Guam.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) 'Cause they had some on Guam. In fact, there was a girl on Guam from Indianapolis named Catherine Hicks. Red Cross girl. They didn't have any Black Red Cross girls. All White. So, uh, Black sailor asked one of these White girls to dance. And (STAMMERS) , and they had just laid this Quonset floor hut, it was slick, concrete floor and he asked this girl to dance and she said, how dare you ask a White woman to dance.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And he hauled off and hit her and she slid on her behind all the way up to island commanders. He was, his name was Captain Smith, I never will forget. Right at his feet. And he ordered his orderly, said, shoot that man. Well, that guy got outrun, run down the hill then. He couldn't get off the island and, uh, the orderly shot him out, so we went out to hear the shots 'cause they were still Japanese up in the hill.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) We didn't know what was happening. You know, they were still giving (UNINTELLIGIBLE) , (STAMMERS) (SOUNDS LIKE) hospital off in those hills, still. So, uh, I ran out there and in a, right by the island commander, of all places to end up and I'm the first Black thing he saw. And he said, take that man to the brig. And the orderly said, well, sir, he just came out.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) He said, take him to the brig. Said, we going to hold him till we get the other guy. And this guy's, I'm a Marine and this guy's a sailor. (BACKGROUND NOISE) But he got away, but he couldn't get off the island, they knew that. So, they put, sent me in, took me to the brig (STAMMERS) for three days on (STAMMERS) , in solitary confinement.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And those brigs, overseas, run by Navy and Navy doesn't care too much for Marines. (LAUGH) And, these master of arms, uh, run the brig. And, uh, so my outfit, well, they brought him in the third day and I could see feet. I looked under, under, I was in that cell and I could see feet come past to another cell. And it was in Quonset hut but it had wooden, individual wooden cell. And, uh, they let me go the third day.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Well, I'm glad they did because my outfit was coming down to break me out of that brig. I met them right on the, there's a big rock by Mount Topicha and I was sitting on that rock like that after I got out of the brig waiting for somebody to come from my outfit, take me back to my area. And here come a whole bunch of six-bys, everything.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) They said, we, we were going to break you out of there if they (STAMMERS) because (STAMMERS) that (STAMMERS) , my colonel said they had no right, (STAMMERS) he was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . They had no right to hold me incommunicado (STAMMERS) , without any charges or anything, to do that. And he said, I was going to see that you was going to get released.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Well, thank goodness nothing happened. But guess what? I was promoted to corporal out of the brig to keep my mouth shut I guess. 'Cause whoever heard of anybody being promoted to (STAMMERS) , being promoted from the brig. (LAUGH) So. (LAUGH) So, when I got back, I, and, uh, I said, well, maybe I'll go to the brig again. (LAUGH) But my, my record was expunged and everything, there's no record of it. The guys know it that was in my, I know (STAMMERS) happen in my outfit.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, great story. Briefly. (STAMMERS) You, you stayed in the Marine Corps only about three years.

AVERET CORLEY: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

AVERET CORLEY: Well, active because I stayed up until '59 in, in Reserves.

INTERVIEWER: Uh huh. Well, just tell me a little bit, very briefly...

AVERET CORLEY: (OVERLAPPING) And then I was (STAMMERS) called back in the Korean.

INTERVIEWER: Uh, called back in, during the Korean?

AVERET CORLEY: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Um, did (STAMMERS) you go overseas?

AVERET CORLEY: No.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, just, just tell me a little bit about your life. Very briefly. After you left active duty.

AVERET CORLEY: Oh, uh...

INTERVIEWER: Just briefly.

AVERET CORLEY: Well, uh, I hadn't finished high school when I went in the Marine Corps. I was (STAMMERS) , I, when I was went into the service I was 16. And, um, so I went back. My people had moved on a farm in Arcadia, Indiana. I went back to, uh, finish high school. It was all White high school, called Jackson Central High School. Isn't any more Jackson Central, it's Hampton Heights now.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) They even changed the name since then. And I graduated in 1949 from high school. Then, uh, I had GI bill and I went up to Purdue University and uh, I, um, was called back after my, I just, I was just getting situated and the Korean broke out. And I (LAUGH) (STAMMERS) , my spec number was critical, 2511, communicator.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) And they called me back and sent me back, but this time they sent me to Hadnot Point and I was in Second Combat Service, H and S Company, of uh, Second Combat Service. And, uh, uh, (STAMMERS) I got out in April of '51. Yeah, April of '51 and went back to Purdue, and, uh, I graduated from Purdue and got a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.

AVERET CORLEY: (CONTINUED) Then, uh, I wanted to teach ag, but I didn't have the education courses and I went back and got a Masters in Education from Indiana University. I used the GI Bill up and thank God for the GI Bill 'cause (LAUGH) ...

INTERVIEWER: Just, just to, in a brief word, tell me how you think the Marine Corps and its influence on you helped you to be as successful in life as you, you are.

AVERET CORLEY: Oh, I don't know whether I'm successful. I'm (STAMMERS) a survivor. I'm what you call a survivor. I, I wouldn't say I'm (STAMMERS) successful.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think Marine Corps, tell us how you...

AVERET CORLEY: (OVERLAPPING) Oh, no doubt about it. Uh, the training in the Marine Corps, uh, instilled in me that I could do anything. You know, said, I can do this. You know, I've gotten through much tougher stuff than this, you know. there's something about the Marine Corps training that instills that in you. I don't know what it is, but it's, it's, it's intangible but it, it's there, you know. And it makes you proud to be, having been a Marine, you know.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you sir, appreciate it.


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