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CHARLES DAVENPORT

June 29th, 2005


a thumbnail image of Gunnery Sergeant/Acting Master Sergeant Charles Davenport Gunnery Sergeant/Acting Master Sergeant Charles DavenportGunnery Sergeant/Acting Master Sergeant Charles Davenport grew up in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school in 1942, he joined the Marine Corps. During World War II he served in the Marshall Islands. He also served in Korea. Leaving the Corps in 1957, he received a degree in psychology from Washington and Jefferson College in 1962 and enjoyed a twenty-seven year career as a psychologist working with delinquent teenagers for the Pennsylvania State Department of Welfare. He resides in Washington, Pennsylvania.


INTERVIEWER: Okay sir, will you say and tell your name, and spell it for us, please, your whole name?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: The name is Charles Robert Davenport, the Davenport is D-A-V-E-N-P-O-R-T.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, Mr. Davenport, would you tell us a little bit about your background before joining the Marine Corps? Things like, where you're from, a little bit about your family, and your education?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Yes, I am from a town (STAMMERS) south of Pittsburg, called Monongahela, that's M-O-N-O-N-G-A-H-E-L-A, Monongahela, Pennsylvania, it's named after the Monongahela River. I was born in July the 28th 1923, in that town. I went to school there, graduated from Monongahela High School, in 1941, and I majored a commercial course, at that time.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) After graduating form high school, and prior to that, my dad was a master electrician, and he taught my brother and I the electric trade. And, uh following graduation, I went to work at, uh, a local hospital, name for Pennsylvania Railroad, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for Swick Refectories making sleeves and hoses and things for, (STAMMERS) out of clay for the steel industry.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And November the 27th, 1942, I enlisted in the Marine Corps, stayed there until I was discharged, finally, the 39th of March, 1957. Uh, (STAMMERS) the educational aspect of my younger life, uh, grade school was in a, a school called Lincoln school, first to sixth grade there, and we went to junior high school, where we had the seventh and eighth grade, and then the four years at, uh, Monongahela High School.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) While I was there I was, uh, with the track team, played baseball, and, uh, I signed up on the, uh, wrestling team, and, uh, other intramural sports, things like that. And, uh, from my education, uh, I was a pretty good student, uh, enough that that qualified to, uh, go to college later, where I enrolled at Washington Jefferson College 1958, graduated 1962 as a psychology major.

INTERVIEWER: Why did you join the Marine Corps?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: To tell the truth, uh, I had a dispute on a job site, and, uh, uh, out of the dispute, uh, I'm a little hot tempered, and I told the boss I didn't have to work for him, and the United States government had a job for me, and I walked off the job that day, and into Pittsburg, and enlisted in the Marine Corps. However, prior to that, around May, (STAMMERS) about 1942, I read in the paper, then I later heard from the radio, that President Roosevelt was signing a law that, uh, was going to prevent Black people to, uh, (STAMMERS) enlist in the Marine Corps.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) I had a good friend there, who was like a brother to me, and he and I both decided to enlist in the Marines. And we later found out that the enlistments were going to commence in August. However, the seventh of August, my friend got married, and, uh, in getting married, he wasn't interested in the Marines Corps at that time, and, uh, so I didn't want to go by myself, and, I waited and worked, too, and after the dispute with my boss where I worked.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Uh, this is when I was pushed too far, on my desire to go into the Marines. And I guess you could say that, uh, I had (STAMMERS) it's kind of a toughie, and, uh, I liked to fight. I was very good at wrestling, and, uh, I was moderate as far as fist fighting was concerned, and being small of stature, and things like that, I got pushed around quite a bit, and it was in me to show that even though I was small in stature, I was big enough and strong enough, and willing to be in the best fighting force they had, and I joined the Marine Corps.

INTERVIEWER: Before you learned of the, uh, executive order, uh, President Roosevelt, were you aware of the fact that there were no African Americans, no Blacks in the Marine Corps?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Oh, yes, um, my oldest brother, he was 15 months older than I was, he enlisted in the Army, the 15th day of August 1940. He went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and I was, uh, ready to go into my senior high school, at that time, and I wanted to go in the army with him, and, quite a few boys from out town, and the neighborhood towns, were enlisting in the Army at that time. And I told the my brother at that time, (STAMMERS) if they had Black Marines, uh I would (STAMMERS) Marine Corps.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) But at that time, uh, the, the army was the only outfit, 'cause at that time, I knew the, uh, Navy (STAMMERS) weren't recruiting Blacks, but at the same time, they put you in the steward's branch, and I felt that this was demeaning, and I wasn't going in to a branch of service and shine pots and pans, and, cook food, things like that. So, the Navy was definitely out, and the Marine Corps had no options at that time.

INTERVIEWER: How did you travel from Montford Point, I'm, I'm sorry, from Pennsylvania to Montford Point, and, and tell, tell us a little bit about the trip.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: After enlistment, they, the Marine Corps sent us orders, tickets and things like that, I went by train from Monongahela to Pittsburg, my dad accompanied me to Pittsburg, got the train out of Pittsburg for Washington, D.C., from there, we too, oh, 640 out of Boston, D.C. on a Richmond, Potomac and Fredericksburg railroad, and, going down to Rocky Mountain, North Carolina.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Uh, the ticket agent, uh, on the train, or the conductor, looked at my ticket, and, uh he asked to see my orders. And I showed them to him, I said, uh, why do you want my orders? You're not taking anybody else's orders. And he said, there is a discrepancy. And he said your tickets, (STAMMERS) have you going through to Yamessy South Carolina, and he said, I'm the railroad.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) He said, uh, I've seen a few Black men, uh, going through to the Marine Corps, but not one of them has gone to Parris Island. He said that they're all going to Camp Lejeune, and they had sent another soldier orders, you're to report to Camp Lejeune, but your tickets are made out to Parris Island. And he said, I suggest when you get to Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, that you go to the ticket manager there, and have your tickets changed to Wilmington, North Carolina.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And, when we got to Rocky Mountain, uh, this happened, and I finally got my tickets straightened out. Went to Wilmington, and from there to Camp Lejeune, and I did to find out (STAMMERS) Wilmington, North Carolina, that, indeed they were not (STAMMERS) training any Blacks at Parris Island, and I did, uh, my orders were, uh, for Camp Lejeune.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, did you ever find out why your tickets were initially riding you to, to South Carolina?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Well, (STAMMERS) I deduced after the fact that, uh, this was just a, a, an administrative error, a clerk, uh, not being used to probably, uh, having Blacks getting tickets going to, uh, the Marines, uh, had it in his mind, everything is going to Parris Island, the railroad tickets was made out there, that way, but my orders never had any mention of reporting to the Commanding General of Parris Island whatsoever.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) That's what the Commanding General of Camp Lejeune. At that time, I had not heard of Montford Point, and, uh, when we got to Wilmington, the bus driver taking us into Jacksonville is telling us, uh, what wonderful brick barracks we were going to be quartered in, and the things like that. And when we got to Jacksonville, they took us out to Montford Point, and it, they were no brick huts there.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) We had, uh paper huts, uh, a few two by four strong backs, uh, this compressed paper walls, a wooden floor, right on the ground, and so forth, and (STAMMERS) it was 120, of these, uh paper huts there, that made up our, uh, recruitment, uh, area, where we were going to be trained.

INTERVIEWER: What were your first or early impressions of Montford Point?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: I was disappointed. Because I'd heard about this brick barracks and they, they said they had steam heat, and things like that, and, uh, we came up through the Depression, and, uh, the things were very difficult, (STAMMERS) being a child was just through the Depression, most of the homes, uh, whoever the (STAMMERS) people were that lived in this homes, uh, had, uh, furnaces, or great fires, and things like that.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) In the winter, you're always cold, and thinking about those brick barracks and steam heat, you're thinking about, uh, being warm, and it's, uh, cold at that time, getting cold, it's at least, uh, (STAMMERS) or the barracks, we'll be warm, things like that. But I got there and saw these huts, and, uh, saw, it was very sparse there. But, uh, they had (STAMMERS) facilities as us.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And I was a little bit disappointed in coming there, and then somebody said, well, you know, you're a recruit, and you can't expect too much right now, and they said, they'll probably move us into the brick barracks later on.

INTERVIEWER: Did you, uh, encounter any prejudice, uh, that you knew of, at, or that you felt at Montford Point, during the training?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: First, first prejudice, or discrimination that I suffered was at Rocky Mountain, North Carolina. From Washington, D.C., to Rocky Mountain, we were all over the train, and, uh, seated any place. And uh, was in the diner, and things like that. But when we got to Rocky Mount, when into see the station manager, and there were about 86 of us, coming down to the Marine Corps from the East Coast.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And we burst into the station, well, it was about 2:00 in the morning, there was only one station master there, and I went to the window, and I called him buddy, and I said, I have to get my ticket straightened out, and, he asked me, who are you talking to, calling me buddy? And I told him, you. And he acted a little out of character, we got into quite a discussion, and an argument, and the next thing we know, the police were there.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And, uh, this man was wanting me to be arrested, he said, uh, I was rude to him, and so forth, and, when you're angry, a lot of words come out, (STAMMERS) some of them weren't to be repeated here, we got into quite a discussion, and, uh, he refused to amend my ticket, and so forth, and, uh, the City Police came into the station, and at that time, uh, I told him, I said, do, you have no jurisdiction over me, because I'm a United States Marine.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) So uh, they followed that up, with an Army MPs. They saw our orders, and, uh, the Sergeant of the MPs ordered the stationmaster to correct my tickets. When we left the station, and, went out to the train, the train that had come into take us to Wilmington, North Carolina, was like a silver streak, all of the cars were made out of stainless steel. And, uh, they kept telling us, (STAMMERS) go up forward, go up forward.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And, uh, when we got up forward, the car we went into had wooden seats, it was one coach, and, uh, there was one small fan, in diameter about this big, uh, on each end of the coach. It was hot, it was dirty in there, there was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and it was 86 of us men coming on the train at that time. Weren't seats enough for everybody. The conductor was very nasty over the train.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) We had another argument on, at that location, they sent for MPs, and the MPs put the conductor in his place, this is bad enough that these people have to ride in this segregated car, and they're jammed in here like sardines, he said, you can at least be civil with them. So um, we rode on into Wilmington, North Carolina, then, when we segregated the car. And we realized then that, uh, we were in a different environment than what we were used to.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Uh, we had no problems going from Wilmington, North Carolina to Jacksonville. Our bus driver was quite friendly, telling us about, uh, the base, and asking us where we were from, and, we had a good time with the bus driver. Uh, once we got on the base, uh, we didn't have any trouble, (STAMMERS) of any magnitude. And the Marines there treated us fine, we had no problems with that.

INTERVIEWER: When, after you had begun training, uh, (STAMMERS) can you tell me a little bit about the spirit of the other Marines that were there with you? Uh...

CHARLES DAVENPORT: We realized we were in the South. We had heard from others that all of the White officers and the White non-commissioned officers that were training us, we heard that they signed a Letter of Intent, that they were desirous of being stationed and training Black troops. And, uh, they treated us very fairly, they were tough, as they could be, but they were fair, and we knew that, uh, something about the training that, uh, all Marines were getting.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Said, uh, we're no different, (STAMMERS) with the title of the Marine, but we're different as far as color is concerned, and, we quickly got the attitude, knowing that we were Black, that if you were going to succeed at anything, you were going to have to be better than everyone else. And, collectively, as a group, we got together and says, we don't want anyone to foul up here, because we're the pioneers of this experiment.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And if we make it, others can make it after us, but if we fail, they don't want us, any of, they didn't even want White Marines, they did everything to try to wash you out, so that what was left was the cream of the crop. So we trained with the attitude that whatever you are doing to us, uh, in the manner of the (STAMMERS) training and so forth, we will do that, plus whatever else you can do to show that we are (STAMMERS) superior, that we are supreme at what we're trying to do.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And we're going to show you what a Marine is supposed to become. And this (STAMMERS) attitude prevailed all the way through our services, because we knew (STAMMERS) center stage, and whatever we did, those that followed us would have to march to the same drumbeat.

INTERVIEWER: Off base liberty. Uh, tell me a little bit about, uh, your experiences there.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Well, liberty, (STAMMERS) we have to go to Jacksonville to take the bus. And, uh, the surrounding towns, Kinston, Morehead City, Beaufort, well, they call it Beaufort there, and, uh, Wilmington, such, uh, we had to sit in the back of the bus. We resented that. And, some of the cities around there, the Marine Corps would, uh, supply, uh, the, K-6 truck. And, uh, they had seats in the back.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And they would take us to the, some of the cities in the trucks, and so forth, so you had to go where the truck went, and you had to be on the truck to come back, and, uh, and, when we got to the towns, uh, this was a new experience for the people of North Carolina. And seeing that everybody hated us down there, except the Black females. And I said, we figured that, uh, they were more attracted to the uniform than they were to us, you know? (LAUGH)

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) But, uh, the, uh, Black servicemen around there, sailors and soldiers, they hated us, because seeing the girls were swarming around us, the Black civilians, the White civilians there, uh, they showed contempt, um, uh, at the restaurants and so forth. They, if they served you, they're saying you have to go to the back door, and this and that, and the other. And so, usually we would eat supper at the base.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Uh, go into town, catch a bus, go on a truck, and we wouldn't plan on eating anything else until we got back to the base. And it's on overnight liberties, on a weekend, we got a dorm or a hall or someplace like that. They have Black hotels and Black restaurants there, so, we didn't have too much of a problem there, except in the city, the White taxicabs would not, uh, take us anyplace.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) We had to ride in the, uh, Black-owned taxies, and, uh, the people at the bus stations though, they were as fair as they could be, considering the laws that the state had enacted at that time. But they tried to be civil. And, um, (STAMMERS) since they had interstate, and intrastate bus and train transportations, going through the towns, they had the (STAMMERS) the Black (STAMMERS) uh, restaurants, and the Black restaurants, and the White on the other side, and so forth.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And most of them tried to, uh, divide the service, according to how many people got off of the, public conveyance. If there were more Blacks at the station, and they would have more of the help to go over to this Black side of the station, to take care of serving us. Or if it was more Whites, they had more of the staff taking care of the White passengers. And this expedited their getting people served and so forth, and back on their conveyance, so that they could attend to their journey.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) But it was demeaning, and, it was something that we had to accept, and then every once in a while, there would be a minor incident of some sort, and we tried to put that behind us, too.

INTERVIEWER: Did you experience any acceptance from Whites that you didn't expect?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Oh, yes. All the time.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us a little bit about that?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Yes, uh, I got to know Raleigh pretty well. Uh, I liked the people in Raleigh. In fact, uh, in the Black neighborhood, they used to tell me I was the (STAMMERS) unofficial, uh, Mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina, because I went there so often. And, uh, one night, I was with a friend of mine, that had originated from my home town. He was in the Marine Corps, too. And, we got lost in Raleigh.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And we were trying to get back to the Black hotel, where we were staying, and we saw this hotel, and we walked in, to try to get directions, and it was a White hotel, and there was a lot of, uh, White men, sitting in the lobby, I don't want to say a lot, but about eight or nine White men sitting in the lobby. It was about 1:30 in the morning, and we walked up to the desk clerk, and these men looked at us, and they started whispering.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And they got up, and they started to walk over, (STAMMERS) towards our direction, and the desk clerk was a young man who looked about, uh, to be about 30 years old, and he put his hand up like that, and he said, no, no, no, no, like that, and he said, gentlemen, may I help you? And I told him yes, and I told him that we were lost, and where we wanted to go. And, uh, so he gave us directions.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And we prepared to leave, and he said, may I ask you a question? I said, yes. He said, I see Black men in green uniform (STAMMERS) at Raleigh. He said, I happen to know that the CCC Corps wore green uniforms. He said, are you men with the CCCs? Or are you Marines? And I said, told him, (STAMMERS) tell you the, the difference. I said, on our collar, we have the globe and anchor.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And on our caps, we have the globe and anchor. I said, when you see that, they're Marines. I said, I don't what the insignia of the CCC wears, but they definitely don't wear the globe and anchor. I said, also, (STAMMERS) uh, we only wore one chevron then, on the left (STAMMERS) sleeve, I said, if you see chevrons, and I said, in time you will, I said, but right now, we're all buck privates, but when you see (STAMMERS) a chevron on the green uniform, that also has that insignia, that we are Marines.

INTERVIEWER: What were your experiences in the Marine Corps after you left Montford Point? Uh, things like, where did you serve, and, and what did you do?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: After training at Montford Point, uh, I was with the 51st Defense Battalion, originally, that was the only unit we had when you first went in, in 1942. Early around May of '43, uh, we were separated by unit. We had five different Battalions, made up of the body of men, that were already in the Marine Corps. And, uh, we, uh, some of our weapons were taken from us, uh, the tank corps, and, and the artillery and so forth.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) They, those were taken away from us, we were no longer a Composite Defense Battalion, we started the 51st Defense Battalion then. We started to form the 52nd Defense Battalion in time. Uh, we had the Stewards Branch Battalion, we had a Headquarters Battalion, and another one, I can't think of the name of it right now. But anyhow, we trained, uh, in the 51st, they were overseas.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And the 52nd, which trained overseas, and we went across the southern states to Los Angeles, to Camp Pendleton, California. That's there, Oceanside, California. We had good experiences going cross-country. Uh, we left, uh, Camp Pendleton. We stopped in Hawaii for eight days. We got equipment and supplies in Hawaii. Then half of our unit went to the Majuro Islands, of the, uh, Marshall Island Group.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) The other half of our unit went to Roy Lamor, of the Marshall Islands, and, uh, we were there as, uh, uh, Antiaircraft Gun Support for Marine Air Group 31. And the, uh, air field was stationed on the Island Of Roy, and there were two causeways connecting the Lamor, and they were very small. The, uh, land area, the two island together, only one and 7/10ths square miles surface.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Uh, the elevation was 18 feet high, off sea level, and that elevation was caused by the bulldozers, scraped sand over the trash all the time, and that hill didn't get any higher than 18 feet, above sea level at the time that we were there. Um, we had a wonderful time at, uh, Roy Lamor, which, of the services there, the Marine are Group 31 you know, White, you know.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) The CBs were there, and civilian Marshall E's were there, and the labor force, and so forth. And we later left there, and we went to Guam, where we were preparing to go to the battle, that later ensued at Okinawa. Uh, our own were ready, and starting to like to go to Okinawa, about 80 percent of our Battalion suffered from, uh, cat fever, and, it was so severe that, that they couldn't handle us in the hospitals there.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) They had cots set up in tents outside of the hospital and so forth, and it took about two weeks for everybody to get over the epidemic of cat fever. And after that epidemic was over, um, the war picture changed in Okinawa, and, uh, they decided they didn't need more antiaircraft units there, and we never got to go up to the, uh, activity up in Okinawa.

INTERVIEWER: Were you ever involved in combat?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: In Korea, but not in World War Two.

INTERVIEWER: Tell us a little bit about your experiences.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Well, (STAMMERS) when I was in Korea, I was in the Seventh Marine, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) First Marine Division. And, we were then quartered up in the area, uh, above Munsoni (SP?) , uh, in, uh, Korea. And, uh, then it was a holding action, and so forth, and I was there at the later part, in fact, they signed the truce the day before my birthday, in 1953. And, uh, it was a holding action.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Mostly we were in defensive positions there, like all of the services in Korea at that time. And there were a lot of, uh, skirmishes. It was quite a bit of shine and bombing, and things like that. Uh, the physical combat, uh, uh, hand to hand more or less, uh, we (STAMMERS) didn't get involved in that, uh, but there was a lot of shelling back and forth, things of that nature.

INTERVIEWER: Did you develop, um, any White friends while you were in the Marines?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Certainly.

INTERVIEWER: Can you give us some circumstances, and talk a little bit about your relationships with them, and how these relationships developed.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Uh, the friendships were the same as any friendship I've ever developed in life. You don't take to anybody, just, right away. Uh, the friendship develops in, uh, a, a feeling of having something in common with somebody, or, being working with them side by side, and discussing things back and forth, and seeing similarities in one another, and so forth. Um, I was at, uh, Camp Lejeune, in 1948, when (STAMMERS) President Truman integrated the services.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And, we started at 8:00 in the morning, and by 4:30 that afternoon, the Marine Corps at, uh, Camp Lejeune was completely integrated, and, with the people that I dealt with during the integration, we had no problems whatsoever. And it was a White, uh, uh, Tech Sergeant, same rank as I was then, uh, with the White troops, that we were getting quartered and so forth, he was from Mississippi, and, uh, I was from Pennsylvania.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And, uh, we discussed the problem, and, uh, he said you outrank me by date of rank. He said, that makes you in charge. And I told him no, I said, you know the White Marines, I know the Black Marines, and I said, collectively we have to make this, uh, situation work. And I said, so we can confer on what we're doing and so forth, so that we have the least problems to deal with.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And I said because, any problem that occurs, we have to settle it. So if we can settle it, (STAMMERS) at our, uh, between the two of us, then, (STAMMERS) filters down to the troops, so we won't have too much of a problem, which we didn't. In working with different Marines. In fact, clear back to 1942, um, uh, the NCOs that we had, uh, they seemed tough enough and they seemed to be in favor of us.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) Because, uh, they had, uh, more or less assigned to, uh, deal with the Black troops. But the friendships, uh, developed as we went along. And one good friend, uh, there in 1950, 1952, that was from South Carolina, and he told me how prejudiced he had been, and how prejudice his family, mother and father, still were. He said, I'm working on them. And he said, I changed my attitude about Blacks in World War Two.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And he did several of the beaches that they had to take, and he saw that red blood was red blood. He didn't look at the color of the face, he said, if a man was bleeding, he was a comrade, and, they were working together, fighting together. And he said, he started to change his attitudes then, and, uh, I don't think I had a better friend than, uh, Sam Wells at that time, and, uh, and the rest of them, it was the same way.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And, uh, one of my very best friends was a Sergeant Major from Texas, who was with me in Korea, and he is the one that, uh, helped me, I won't give his name, though. He's the one that helped me to fight against the Marine Corps in, uh, uh, January, (STAMMERS) 1957, when, uh, they got me, uh, an appointment with an interview in, uh, Headquarters Marine Corps, against, uh, to, uh, fight against the discrimination and segregation that was still going on in 1957.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And he'd been stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps, he saw all of the facts and, uh, and attitudes and letters and orders, that we didn't get to see in the field. And he sent me copies, he made the appointment for me, and the second day of January 1957, I was at Headquarters Marine Corps, and I was attacking the Corps on their discriminatory practices that they were still pursuing after we had, had 15 years to prove ourselves in the Marine Corps. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a Marine, regardless, or irregardless of the color of our skin. And I...

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) Okay.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: ...I couldn't have had a better friend than this man, from Texas.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think is the historical significance of the Montford Point Marines?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: The absolute (STAMMERS) camaraderie that we developed in that we all were there for the same reason, suffering the same conditions, fighting and winning every battle that we were in, to gain recognition as United States Marines, colored, Black, there's a camaraderie there that (STAMMERS) continues to this day, and at that time, during the war, any place you went, on the train on the bus on the airplane, any place you went, and you saw a Black man in a green uniform, you knew he was from Montford Point.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) You knew he knew somebody at Montford Point that was a Black Marine, serving there with you. You knew you found a friend. You didn't know his name, he didn't know your name, but you were Black, he was Black, he had the globe and anchor, so did I, you had a friend.

INTERVIEWER: How do you think, uh, the Marine Corps experience has effected your life?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: I'm still proud I went into the Marine Corps. Uh, I met a lot of wonderful people, all over the world, and naturally, something comes up every once in a while, and the service enters into the conversation, well, I was in the Marines. I was, too. Oh, you were in the Marines? Right away, you have a friend. And, and, so, once a Marine, always a Marine. So I experienced it in, in the world outside.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) When you saw another Marine, he could be Mexican, he could be Chinese, Japanese, Black, whatever, he's a Marine, you're a Marine, you have a friend.

INTERVIEWER: I think in a lot of ways you may have answered this question, but I'm just gonna ask it directly. What are your feelings now about having been a Montford Point Marine?

CHARLES DAVENPORT: Had I not gone in the Marine Corps and known now, what I, (STAMMERS) what I was, looking for then, I would think that I had lost something, had I not been a Montford Point Marine. I see servicemen out here, in the Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, so forth, and I know they have reunions and things like that. But I don't see the interaction between men, that they find, well, I was in the Army, I was, too, I don't see the same thing out of them, that I see when a Marine sees another Marine.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) And they don't seem to be buddy-buddy. At the Marine Corps always knows one of three things. He either trained at (STAMMERS) San Diego, Parris Island, or Montford Point. And those three areas tells you, you have a common bond. And having been a Montford Point Marine, it's more important, 'cause even White Marine would say, boy, he says, I remember when you guys were in the service.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) I hated what I saw, when someone says, I, I think, uh, you guys did a lot to prove what you were, and so forth. It's that kind of admiration is, they seem to us 'cause they know what we went through, and, uh, we all would like to see somebody that has succeeded at something, when you talk about John Glenn, everybody lights up, when John Glenn, he was a great man.

CHARLES DAVENPORT: (CONTINUED) One of the first man in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know, and these things, uh, when people look at you with some pride in you, and admiration, it makes you feel good that you were a part of that, uh, period of, uh, (STAMMERS) that we went through, and won the battle of the races, you might say, (STAMMERS) the battle of who was the better Marine and such.


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