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WALTER MADDOX

June 29th, 2005


a thumbnail image of Private First Class Walter Maddox Private First Class Walter MaddoxPrivate First Class Walter Maddox, from St. Louis, joined the Corps in 1942. A member of the 51st Defense Battalion, he served in the Marshall Islands and other Pacific locations. Discharged in 1946, he worked briefly with the Post Office in Saint Louis, then was employed by the Department of Defense's Aeronautical Defense Mapping, Space Command, where he worked for forty-five years. After retiring, Mr. Maddox lived in Saint Louis until his death in October, 2004.


INTERVIEWER: Mr. Maddox, will you say your full name, and then spell it completely for us, please?

WALTER MADDOX: Walter Maddox. That's W-A-L-T-E-R M-A-D-D-O-X.

INTERVIEWER: Okay.

WALTER MADDOX: No middle initial. (TECHNICAL)

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Maddox, can you tell us a little bit about your background before you joined the Marine Corps, and could you include a little bit about your family, your education, and, uh, where you're from?

WALTER MADDOX: Okay. Uh, my background is before I joined the Marine Corps, I was still in High School. Um, I volunteered for the corps in December of 1942. Which is quite a story, as far as I'm concerned. I'm a native of St Louis. I grew up with a bunch of guys, we used to call ourself, we grew up in the American Legion Complex at drum and bugle corps, 1937 until I went into the Marine Corps. Incidentally, after I got out the Marine Corps, I went back into drum and bugle corps on the national level. I have a, we used to call ourself the Big Five.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) And Lafayette, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Travis Jackson the third. (LAUGH) (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Um, Garrett Love. Myself, and William Seals. William Seals deflected to the, uh, Navy, he was a musician. A real musician. We played, but we were not musicians, I think, where he was. And we were recruited by the Navy for the Navy Band up at Great Lakes. However, Lafayette Demarco Travis Jackson III, uh, tried to enlist into the Tuskegee Airmen, and he was accepted. But they were taking them up at a slow pace, because they were building the facilities down in Tuskegee. So he got mad at the Tuskegee Airmen, and was gonna take it out (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and join the Marine Corps.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) That's what started. So he naturally, the rest of us followed him into Marine Corps (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . I was 17 years old (UNINTELLIGIBLE) '42. Generally, uh, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . In '43, I would have been 18 and been eligible for the selected service draft. Fortunately, uh, they had the draftees down here at Jefferson Barracks. Uh, uh, what do you call it, the National Cemetery, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) , which is a national, uh, let me, excuse me. A well known, uh, place, an historical place. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was created during the Civil War and so forth.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) Anyway, those guys were coming into St Louis on, on leave, recruiting, looking like, um, what's this, uh, Army character? Uh, something like Beetle Bailey.

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) Mm hmm.

WALTER MADDOX: Dressed was, wasn't fitted, and so forth, because they would outfit them as fast as they could. And I just didn't want to look like that. So that's when I went on and joined, uh, volunteered for the Marine Corps in December '42. However, I was fortunate, since I had joined the Marine Corps in '42, I went in there, see, I was sworn in as a Marine Corps reserve, USMCR. I still have my dog tag. Uh, the recruit sergeant said, uh, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said that they're still making a place for us down at Camp Lejeune, and therefore, go on back to high school, and they'd let us, let me know.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) They'll call me when they have a place reserved. Well, this lasted until May of 1943 before I reported down to Camp Lejeune and Montford Point. And from then on, it's been, it's been a good tour of duty. (LAUGH) Let's put it that way. And, uh, I've never regretted it.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me a little bit about your family, Mr. Maddox?

WALTER MADDOX: Uh, my father was in the last two months of World War I. Uh, I have, I had a brother that was, uh, went in the Army in, uh, '40, uh, '48, so he could qualify for the GI bill. And they were stationed in Japan when the Korean War, Korean War broke out. They got hit on the nineteenth September 1950. I have one sister, and, uh, she's still living. She's, uh, born on the twenty-seventh of September, which is 19 months, we was 19 months apart. I have a unique family, in the sense, uh, as for birthdays and date. My mother, she was dead set against me going in the military, and she wouldn't sign for me to join the Marine Corps.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) But my dad and I went down anyway, without her knowing it, and he signed, so I could sign, uh, join the Marine Corps. I was only 17. I have a pretty large family that, uh, I've been tracing the family history for the last several years. Using, uh, my computer to get the information, as far, my history. My family, my history of the family that we've traced, I've been able to trace, so far goes back to, which we found out, to, uh, Cherokee, North Carolina. My great-great-great grandmother was, we always thought she was Choctaw. We're not sure whether she was Choctaw or Cherokee. Uh, she walked, have you heard of the Trail Of The Tears?

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) She walked from North Carolina along to Seminole from Florida to Oklahoma, and then in, in turn he came down into, uh, Vicksburg area, Mississippi. And married a, uh, a Black man, which is my great grandfather, Pop Baker. From there, the family has been, uh, spread all over the United States, more or less. (LAUGH) But what I think is unique about my present family is that I have a son and a daughter. My daughter was born on my sister's birthday, the twenty seventh of September, which is my, my, uh, sister in law's, my wife's sisters birthday, the twenty seventh of September.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) My grandson was born on the twentieth of January, which is my birthday. My grand, I said my granddaughter was born on, on the twenty seventh of September. There are three on the twenty seventh of September, two on the twentieth of January. My older sister in law was born on the first of June, which is my granddaughter's birthday. (LAUGH) But, uh, that, that's the uniqueness of our family. Um, I can't think of anything else right now that I can, that, that it would be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) considered unique as for my family is concerned.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me, uh, tell me, did you know that the Marine Corps was not accepting African Americans when you first thought about going in?

WALTER MADDOX: (OVERLAPPING) Yes, we did.

INTERVIEWER: And, and what, what influenced your, can you tell me a little bit about that?

WALTER MADDOX: Well, (CLEARS THROAT) we became aware of, um, the Tuskegee Airmen, and I think just about every kid, since we were, I guess you'd say pro-military, 'cause we grew up in, in the American Legion, in drum and bugle corps, we were well aware of, uh, marching maneuvers as, as we know it now. Uh, musicianship, and so forth. And we were just military (STAMMERS) orientated, not knowing that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) really military orientated from the American Legion. We joined then what they called the SAL, the Son Of The American Legion.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) This is from World War I, and we, it was just something that, and we grew up knowing. And so when the time came for us to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) threatened by being drafted, you know, when the draft took, we didn't wanna go into the Army, on account of Jefferson Barracks (LAUGH) the, the draftees down to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) , come in the city, you know, on liberty. And that was just, just second nature for us. Wasn't no doubt about it, and we knew that, I'll tell you, when world war, we entered the World War II, I was in boy scouts, I was in, in scout camp.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) And I can remember the day, it was in, it was, it was in August or September of, uh, of, uh, (WORD?) . We got involved in 1941 (WORD?) . And it was just something that knew was gonna happen to us. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don't believe in predestination, but. (LAUGH) (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) Yeah, yeah.

WALTER MADDOX: It was a matter of choice.

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) Yeah.

WALTER MADDOX: (OVERLAPPING) But our first, our first choice by our so called leader was the Tuskegee Airmen. He was accepted, but he was delayed and, uh, and he got mad at the Tuskegee Airmen. Gonna take it out on them and join the Marine Corps, (LAUGH) which he did.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me a little bit about the trip from St Louis down to, uh, North Carolina. We've heard a lot of stories about the, that trip, and traveling. Can you give us your...

WALTER MADDOX: (OVERLAPPING) Yeah, well, it was three guys from, that went down to the recruiter, went down the same, down to, uh, Camp Lejeune. We, uh, the, uh, recruiting sergeants put us on the train down to Union Station. (CLEARS THROAT) And, um, it would be a two day trip to Camp Lejeune. Excuse me. But I didn't know where Camp Lejeune, all I knew was North Carolina. (CLEARS THROAT) He told us that, um, when you get to Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, you gonna have a time zone, time zone change there. And that, uh, you leave one station, and go to the, I forget the, what's the, uh, railroad? Seaboard, or something like that.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) You have to walk around a couple of blocks in order to get the train there. If you take your time, you'll miss your train, and you'll have a 24 hour layover in, in Atlanta. Which we did. So here's three guys walking one step (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) , and we missed our train. So we had chances to go (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Atlanta. I had never been out of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the south, so called south. This is the south, also, but, uh, that's deep in the south. Being the only, and, and don't really know what the heck are we doing, we figured we can spend 24 hours in Atlanta, and see Atlanta, which we did.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) So, instead of going to the Peachtree YMCA in Atlanta and getting a room over night, we went out to see the town. Come back about 12:00, 1:00 that morning, and there were no place, no room for us in the Y. So, we had a sympathetic, uh, Y director, and he said, well, you guys are, you're gonna be Marines, and you might (UNINTELLIGIBLE) now. The only thing left is a pool table for you to sleep on. And the guy went up and got us sheets and a pillow for, now, what's the sheet and the pillow (LAUGH) gonna do on the pool table (UNINTELLIGIBLE) .

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) That's the, one of the experiences. Evidently, next day, we caught the train going into North Carolina, and we got there, and I think it was Wilmington, I'm not sure. But, uh, Marine Corps send, uh, a six by and that picked us up, uh, at 12:00 at night, and took us in, uh, to Montford Point. My first meal in the Marine Corps was left over from the, uh, you know, afternoon chow, consisted of what was left of it was stewed tomatoes, tomatoes, and asparagus. That's my first meal in the Marine Corps. Besides meeting my DI, going over and picking up my a sea bag, and a foot locker.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) Um, when we got into the, to the, uh, boot area, camp area, there was a bunch of boots in the middle of the, uh, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) doing sea bag, uh, uh, maneuvering. Which is like you're doing the, the rifle maneuvers, and so forth. And the DI was calling, don't you slap those mosquitoes, didn't I let you eat today? Everybody hollering in unison, yes, sir. And what the heck's going on here? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) But, uh, that was my first night in the Marine Corps.

INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) Yeah. Would you, uh, you, you told me exactly what happened, but how were you feeling inside, uh, after having a 17 year old leaving St Louis, going away for the first time? How did you feel inside about all that was happening?

WALTER MADDOX: I was, I was excited by going in the Marine Corps, but here, let me tell you. Uh, this is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . It was just 1937, we had participated in the drum corps, we had traveled all over the Midwest, and, and in 1939, we traveled to the National American Legion, uh, Convention in Chicago, and we placed thirteenth in the nation as for the drum corps contest. I wouldn't, I was used to traveling around in the Midwest here as a, you know, as a drum corps member. And it wasn't something that, uh, was awesome for me.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) I was, uh, used to traveling. We traveled not only by bus, but we had several members in the American Legion that had, uh, big trucks, and we'd travel on the back of the truck going to the little towns in Missouri, uh, little towns in Illinois, and, uh, it was, it wasn't, it wasn't something awesome that a lot of guys first time away from home. We spent weekends away, we spent a week in Chicago in 1939 for the American Legion convention, competing with the rest of the drum corps out, throughout the country. So that, that wasn't, I was somewhat militarily orientated with a lot of guys (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . I started in drum corps when I was 12 years old.

INTERVIEWER: What was a typical day like for you at Montford Point?

WALTER MADDOX: Ooh boy. In boot camp?

INTERVIEWER: In boot camp.

WALTER MADDOX: Awesome. (LAUGH) Really awesome. Marching and so forth like commands, so that it didn't bother me, you know. I, uh, took it in stride, along with, with a lot of the guys that came in. I say kids, they were kids, also, 17, 18. They had never gone through a pre-military experience. And it was similar; it was tough. To me, it was routine, as far as I knew commands, I could accept commands, I could maneuver on command. Um, it was something I enjoyed.

INTERVIEWER: How about the running and the exercising and the yelling and screaming, and, uh, not enough time to do this, not enough time to do that?

WALTER MADDOX: Well, here again, I, preconditioned. I had just got through playing high school football. And, uh, that was, I thought I was in good shape until I got in boot camp. (LAUGH) I went in the Marine Corps weighing 207, and came out of boot camp weighing 175. It just knocked all that fat off of me. It wasn't a, a regrettable, it, a lot of guys, I talked to them, they had regrets about, you know, going through the training. But it wasn't, uh, it wasn't regrettable stand for me, you know.

INTERVIEWER: Did you encounter any racism or prejudice that you can recall when you, when you were at Montford Point going through training?

WALTER MADDOX: Okay, let me, let me say this. Uh, I think I went on liberty the whole time I was at Montford Point maybe three or four times. Because, uh, in boot camp, no, there wasn't any racism. Because we were all Black. And we'd just got the first Black GI, DIs there, so. Naturally, you didn't get a chance to associate with the officers, we were in boot camp (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . And when I was put in the, I, out of boot camp, I went straight to the 51st (WORD?) battalion. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And they put me in school radio, CP school, which was called radio and telephone.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) The whole time I was in, we were in the States, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) participated in some type of class work or schools, you know, doing the, getting ready to shove off for overseas. And I was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) , I was the, uh, uh, asmith man on, (WORD?) man on the 155 Long Tom Artillery . Um, I was the radio operator, I was a, first I was a, a telephone operator for the linesman, and then, uh, worked switchboards. We learned the, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) SB something. I forget about working the switchboard.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) Meanwhile, after I finished up and we went to (STAMMERS), uh, radio school, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the CW, and, and voice procedure. So I didn't have, uh, much liberty. I didn't take much liberty other than they gave us (BACKGROUND NOISE) a, a, a leave, I went on leave back to St Louis for, what was it, two weeks' leave. This was in September of 1943. And, uh, they was giving the guys a last leave, which we didn't know at the time. I didn't get a, of course, I didn't get a boot leave, and this, (SOUNDS LIKE) what I got, my leave time, come back to St Louis. But otherwise, uh, North Carolina, I didn't do too much liberty there, because I didn't have the time. School. School, school, school.

INTERVIEWER: But the few times you did go out, maybe to Wilmington, Jacksonville, Kinston, or wherever, did, did you encounter any unique experiences?

WALTER MADDOX: Yes. Well, at that time, Jacksonville, I'd describe Jacksonville, I described Jacksonville about as big as this room here. You know, you had the bus station, you had, uh, a local liquor store and tavern and restaurant, and it was just a small area. (LAUGH) What, what surprised me, (SOUNDS LIKE) when we were back for the 1990, uh, 50, 50 year reunion down there, the first thing, when (UNINTELLIGIBLE) went through Jacksonville, there was a big sign over the highway, uh, All American City, Jacksonville, North Carolina.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) And it, it, it (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so that it, it was awesome (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . Uh, I, I started thinking about the time that, uh, we were down there as the Marines, I just didn't have time for the liberty. A lot of the guys were not in, had, uh, experiences that, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . It didn't affect me, because I just didn't go out and get caught up in it, and things like that. I had no incidents (UNINTELLIGIBLE) .

INTERVIEWER: After you finished, uh, training, uh, you indicated you went to the, to the Defense Battalion. Uh, did you ever go overseas or see combat, and if so, tell us about that.

WALTER MADDOX: We went over as a Battalion in January of 1944. Uh, we went down, we left, left, uh, Christmas of '43, and they had a troop train for us. Took us all the way across country to San Diego. And, uh, they put us up at, uh, then, the Marine Corps had a, uh, a mortar range at, uh, Lima Vistas, up in, up in the mountains there, and they had a tent city. That's where we put the Battalion. We left from San Diego on pier two, heading for the South Pacific. We didn't know where in the heck we were going. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but no. We were out in the sea for a couple of days before they informed us where we were going.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) We were going down to, uh, a group of islands. We found out there it was 750 miles north of, of Samoa. They were called the Ellice Islands. We, we, uh, relieved a, uh, Defense Battalion down there. I don't know what, the 3rd or the 5th, uh, Defense Battalion, we relieved them. (BACKGROUND NOISE) They'd left their guns in placements, and placed, and then we took over (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . Those islands, group of islands were called the Ellice Islands. And the main island was Funafuti.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) And it was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . We had one alert whilst we were down there, and it was on the, on the seaward side, and we had, it was 155 Long Toms. And they, somebody said they saw a submarine and they got off a couple of rounds on it, but they don't know whether they hit it or not. That was on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at, uh, Funafuti. We left Funafuti going up the Ellice Islands going north. We didn't know where the heck we were going then. We would find out later, when we were at sea, we were going up to the Marshall Islands. We went up through the, uh, Kwajalein. We dropped off a, an detachment at Kwajalein, and then we ended up at the Enewetak in the Marshall Islands.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) Which we later found out, you know, years, years, years later, that, uh, Enewetak was one of the staging areas for, staging areas for the, uh, invasion of Iwo. Which we were scheduled to go. They had a Battalion on board ship out in the harbor there that was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) replace us. But since we had all the technology of the guns and the placement and everything, they decided to send them on in on Iwo. Fortunately, or unfortunately. If it had been us, they lost 50 percent on the beach going in. And that could have been our group.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) Uh, I don't know, it's, in later years, I've, I've been reading and keeping up with military history. That I found out there was reluctance, and still reluctance and said we weren't ready, but we knew better. But all the training, it, it just went for naught. And this is proof that throughout the years, that, uh, they were wrong. They were wrong. Not that we didn't want to go (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . You've heard that, uh, the, the Black American, uh, newspaper out of Baltimore, what was it called? The Afro-American. (LAUGH) They used to have big headlines, get our boys into combat.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) And we said, the hell with that. (LAUGH) We didn't want to die. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) But that's the thing, we were, we were gung ho. We were Marines. Marines from day one. Uh, as you know, they say we were the first Marines. We weren't. The, in the Continental Navy, there were Black Marines in there. Of course, the, the Navy used them as, uh, snipers on board ships. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) They had those, uh, collars called them leather, Leathernecks. But there were several Blacks in the Marine Corps during the Revolutionary War. And that is just beginning to come out in the history.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) It was suppressed. All of a sudden, as the, we kicked the, uh, the British's, you know, English, uh, uh, soldiers, uh, won the Revolutionary War, that it was, each state had their own military contingent, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . And you just say the, uh, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Blacks, you know, Blacks, or Afro Americans, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thing at the time. One thing, what a lot of people do not realize that the Marine Corps, you see, and was a southern outfit. The families of the gentries, or the genteel people, send their young men to, uh, Virginia, Virginia Military Institute. Navy Academy, like that. And it just grew, just went on. The tradition of, of separation just went along with the military during that period in time. So.

INTERVIEWER: Why would you think the Montford Point Marine experience is so important in, in history?

WALTER MADDOX: It's hard to say the importance of it. Uh, the results of it, I guess we couldn't at the time see, well, nobody could see the future, see ahead. But it was something that we had to prove. There was an American, and there was a Black American. As individuals. It was something my, if I had to do it again, I would do it again. Under, under the circumstances that we went under. I didn't, couldn't foresee in being, you know, the, where we are today. And let me, let me explain as far as, uh, segregation's concerned. I was born and raised here in St Louis.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) In St Louis, there was a separation of races. Not to the extent that areas further south of here experienced (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, of course. In St Louis, we had everything we needed in our communities. We had cream of the top of educators, doctors, lawyers. We all had our own, the, the business in the city of St Louis that we didn't have to go outside of our communities to get, uh, the needs and things that we needed. Uh, (CLEARS THROAT) the only thing that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was segregated (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was that you couldn't go to the theaters.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) You couldn't eat in the restaurants. You can go in and take out, you didn't have to go through the back door. There was no segregation as far as public transportation in St Louis, you went every place you wanted to. We went out to the Sportsman's Park. Now, when I grew up, I went in part what they called the Knothole Gang. We had a section, this is White and Black. And the section in the grandstand where the general public, Black could not sit in the grandstand. They sit out in the bleachers. But I grew up sitting in the, uh, in the grandstand with the Knots.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) They had one for, both for the Browns, St Louis Browns, and the St Louis Cardinals. Uh, so I think outside of our community, we had to, which is called Leville, (SP?) St Louis, uh, west end then at the time, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that we, we didn't have to encounter segregation outside of that, you know. Because everything's in there. All the commercials that we, uh, commercial, uh, business that we had our own, own theaters. Our own doctors. And the well renowned Homer G Phillips hospital, which was a training hospital for all Black physicians before.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) They came from all over the, you know, the, Meharry Medical School, Howard Medical School, and come to Homer G Phillips for training.

INTERVIEWER: How would you say that the Marine Corps experience, your Marine Corps experience has affected the rest of your life?

WALTER MADDOX: Tremendous. It, uh, it was a learning experience, uh, traumatic in a sense, but which all Marines have to go through. And it, uh, I guess it, it, excuse me, I really matured in the Corps. One of the guys sitting out there, I don't know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) LA now. And he's, uh, he recently moved out there a couple of years ago, we went to Bradley University together. We were in Boy Scouts together, we were in drum corps together. And it, uh, it wasn't for being in the Corps (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what we learned in the Corps. I learned in the Corps that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pray tell where I would be now.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) We got out of, out of the military, I got out the sixth of March, 1946. Wrote Bradley University for, see if I could get on the football team if they accept me, and I went back, went up to Bradley University in August of '46. Enrolled up there. Left Bradley, I started working for the Federal Government. I started work at the, uh, Post Office, during, I used to work at the Post Office during the Christmas holidays when I'd come home from school. Then I thought I wanted to be in the Postal Service when I got out of, I left Bradley. (BACKGROUND NOISE)

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) I started working for the, uh, what we call the Army Finance Center. Which was a federal office. I left there in January of '53, started working through ACIC, which is the Aeronautical Chart And Information Center. I became a cartographer, a map maker. I did 37 years and five months of map making. And, uh, I retired from the, uh, defense, Department Of Defense, (SOUNDS LIKE) DME, in, uh, the thirtieth of June, 1990, (LAUGH) one day before my position would have been frozen on account of the, the, uh, uh, Desert Storm.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) I made it out one day ahead of time. So, my total federal and government work, I did 47 years and five months of it. Incidentally, when I joined the Marine Corps in December of '42, uh, with the United States Marine Corps Reserves, then they required that you served your hitch plus 10. And, uh, since when I got out in '46 there were no Marine Corps reserves that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) units that they could serve in, I forgot about it. So when I applied for my retirement from the Federal Government, they went back and found that my reserve status ran from March '46 to March '56, 10 years, and I got credit for that.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) Because I couldn't attend a, they didn't have a Reserve Unit that I could, uh, the, they only Reserve Unit in St Louis was the third battalion, which is out here. And that was still all White. Even after, after the desegregation of the military, they still did, had very few, if any, in the 3rd Battalion.

INTERVIEWER: How do you feel about having been a Montford Point Marine?

WALTER MADDOX: To me, it's, it's been a learning experience. To say, uh, I can't say I was in love with it. Uh, it was a learning experience. It's one of the rocky roads you have to go through in life. You become a survivor. Survivor. It, it make, it makes you a survivor. It made me a survivor. Just like boot camps now. It's, in the Marine Corps. You become a survivor. You might go in there with different ideas what you wanna do, but it'll turn you around. And Montford Point was, to me, when I think back on it, that's what, uh, it made me a survivor.

WALTER MADDOX: (CONTINUED) It made everyone in there, I think, a survivor (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . And lots of guys don't realize that. That (STAMMERS) you're what you are today because of what you went through then.

INTERVIEWER: What, what was it you went through that, that made you feel like it made you a survivor? What...

WALTER MADDOX: I didn't realize that I was, it made me a survivor until many, many years after (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . You learn discipline. You learn to take it and give it, and you deal with things on a daily, uh, daily basis. That, uh, ordinarily, you, if you didn't have that training, you wouldn't have that, that survival instinct.


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