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JOSEPH B. WALKER

May 25th, 2004


a thumbnail image of Corporal Joseph B. Walker Corporal Joseph B. WalkerCorporal Joseph B. Walker, born in Richmond, Virginia, grew up in Durham, North Carolina. He joined the Corps in 1943, was assigned to the 51st Defense Battalion, and saw duty in the occupied islands of the Pacific. Trained as an electrician in the Corps, he returned to Durham after the war and worked for forty-three years in that trade. Retired, he resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


INTERVIEWER: Mr. Walker, as you know, we've been interviewing a number of Montford Veterans for documentaries and we'd like to, if you would please, to state your full name and give us today's date, just for the record.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Okay, my name is Joseph B. Walker; today's date is May 25, 2004.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, what I'd like to do now is to get you to tell us a bit about your background before you joined the Marines. That is, where you were raised, uh, a little bit about your family the, the number of people in your family, what they did for a living. And a little bit about your educational background. How much education did you have at the time you went into the Marines?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Okay, I was born in Richmond, Virginia, April 20, 1924; my family moved back to Durham in 1925. And of course, at that time there was only three of us in our family who were living. An older sister, two brothers who had passed and of course myself and a younger brother, were the ones who actually moved back to Durham. I finished high school in 1942, and from there I went on to New Jersey.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) My brother-in-law had a job waiting for me, so naturally everything was supposed to been five girls in my family and two boys, all eight of us living, so somebody had to get out and do some work. Even though we knew there was a war going on.

INTERVIEWER: And what, what did your parents do?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: My mother was a homemaker, my dad worked at Ligget & Meyers Tobacco Company in downtown Durham, N.C.

INTERVIEWER: Now why and when, when tell me when, but also tell me why you decided to join the Marines?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Good question, during the time I was in New Jersey working for the plastic material factory, I forgot the name, exact name of it. Uncle Sam always wanted to know where you were after you registered. So naturally, when I went to New Jersey he had to follow me right there too. So we decided one day, and I don't remember the date, to say that I was supposed to go to the armory in Newark, New Jersey.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Along with a whole lot of other guys to have an examination, make a long story short I passed the examination and of course they all had to go through to see an officer. And he was the one who actually put you in whatever branch he wanted to. This was a Naval officer who waited on me, and when he stamped Navy on that I told those guys I did not want to be in the Navy, even though I wound up in the Navy, a branch of the Navy anyway, the Marine Corps.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) So the guy said, what did you say son? Said, I don't want to be in the Navy. He said, come on boy, and of course I went on to the next room and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) put your papers on the guys desk, the officers desk. And when I did, he put them down there and stamped Marine Corps right on top of them before I could say anything. I told him thank you. So that's basically how I got in the Marine Corps.

INTERVIEWER: When you got into the Marine Corps, so you were drafted into the Marine Corps, when you got into the Marine Corps were you aware that the Marine Corps had never admitted African Americans before 1942?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I sure did not, I sure did not, and this basically was gonna be.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me that you were not aware of?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I wasn't aware that the Blacks were in the Marine Corps at that time, but, uh, when they told me, after I said I wanted to be in the Marine Corps, somebody mentioned to me that I would be sent to New River, North Carolina. Well I'm originally from North Carolina so where in the world is New River, North Carolina, out on the coast, so there's no problem there, my dad knew exactly where it was, because he was still in Durham, North Carolina.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, well, I want you to tell me a little bit about your travel, you, to Montford Point, where you left from originally, what the trip was like, uh, getting from wherever you left originally to go to Montford Point, to Montford Point?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Okay, well actually, I had to get back to New York, uh, the address of this swearing in, uh, uh, building, as such, was 383 Madison Avenue, I'll never forget it. That's where I was sworn into the Marine Corps and of course we had to leave from there by train. And of course between the time we left New York and Washington D.C. we had a good time, very good time.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) All the guys were, well, let's say socializing, you knew everybody. But once we got to D.C. that's where we split. We got behind the coal car.

INTERVIEWER: What do you mean by we, tell me what you mean?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Blacks, the Blacks who were going, and we eventually found out that all of us was coming down to Montford Point, or New River, North Carolina. So that was the mode of transportation at that time. And of course, when you got on the train you got behind the smoke stack, I'll put it that way. And of course we rode the train and finally wound up in Wilmington, North Carolina.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And that train had the gumptions to back from Wilmington, North Carolina, all the way to Jacksonville, that's where we got off. It backed up, I mean, I didn't know any other mode of transportation (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but that's the way we went. And of course when we got there, there was a bus waiting on us.

INTERVIEWER: Now when you, when you entered the train, and I'd like you to tell me this, when you entered the train in New York, were there Whites and Blacks on the train?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Sure was together, we socialized all the way down to Washington D.C.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me this now, were there Whites and Blacks together on the train, tell me that there were?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: There were.

INTERVIEWER: But you need to tell me that there were White. (TECHNICAL)

JOSEPH B. WALKER: There were Whites and Blacks on the same trains, males, and of course we socialized with each other, had jokes we told, drank coffee all that kind of stuff. Until we got to Washington D.C. and that's where we split. (TECHNICAL)

INTERVIEWER: Um, what about going from, um, Jacksonville to Montford Point, do you recall how they, how you were transported from the?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Sure, they transported us from, uh, from, uh, well now they transferred us from a train to a bus. And this bus actually brought us to the gate of Montford Point. Where we all got out and we were searched for any weapons or whatever.

INTERVIEWER: Now, at that time were the people being transported, were you already broken into the all Black transportation at that point? Were, were, was the bus full of Blacks?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Blacks, it was full of Blacks, we'd gotten off the train in Jacksonville.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, so you've arrived at Montford Point, I want you to think back, just give me whatever comes to your mind in the first two or three weeks that you were in boot camp at Montford Point. What were your impressions of, of the camp in your first two or three weeks there? Anything that you, that, uh, flashes through your mind?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I had heard that Montford Point was at one time, uh, a CCC camp. I had never been to one but I had heard of them, guys went there to work, make a little money and so forth to help them out. They also said that they were a little strict on you, you couldn't go off campus or leave out of the, the camp without permission. And of course, naturally I was thinking it's gonna be the same thing.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) I had heard, uh, cases of where the fellows went through boot camp and they wouldn't let them off until after they finished boot camp for any kind of liberty. So that's basically what we ran into when we got there, those guys said, you guys have to do what we say do. And instead of saying, are you fellows fall out, they would say you men fall out, you men fall out, when they said fall out, they meant falling out.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) If you had to bring your door with you and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) .

INTERVIEWER: Now, what year did you arrive at Montford Point?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I arrived at Montford Point in 1943, June of 1943.

INTERVIEWER: Now tell me a little bit about the leadership there when you arrived there, I want you to tell me wither the DIs were White or Black. Whether the officer core was White or Black. What did you notice about the leadership at Montford Point?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: At that particular time I understand that there were a few Whites, but they began to, in, uh, the Blacks began to become drill instructors and of course that's who we were assigned to. Eventually they were all Black, Black, uh, drill instructors, all the White ones that, but we also had all White officers. In other words, anybody White that you saw on Montford Point camp they had to be an officer, rather than a drill instructor or a non-com.

INTERVIEWER: Do you recall while you were at Montford Point any specific incidents of, of racism while you were there?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I don't think we were exposed enough to say that we were, uh, segregated or any, uh, negative signs, uh, came out. But we were always aware of the fact that it became, we knew what was gonna happen. We were gonna be responsible for our, uh, actions towards those things, and it appeared to me that they were, uh, if the White ones were there, they were conscious of what we, they had to do.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) So their responsibility was not to throw something at us like that especially if they were officers. But, uh, I didn't see any signs of it that I can remember right at the present time.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, what about the spirit of the men at the camp that you went through boot camp with, can you recall what it was like just being within, in that boot camp and, and working with these men. And tell me about that?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Well we had fellows who come from, uh, all parts of the United States, in fact, there was the only recruit depot, boot camp for Blacks. For all of the Blacks who might have joined in the United States they came to Montford Point. There was a different variety of, or varieties of actions from those young men. Some cried, some cursed and some played it cool.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Or I guess nowadays they chill out, but there was a lot of conversations going on and those conversations, uh, dealt with how you felt when you went in the Service. Uh, did you leave, uh, uh, loved ones, did they see you off at the bus station, or that kind of thing. And of course most of us didn't have that, uh, send off by family as they have today. Uh, most of the guys were pretty well settled.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Like I said before some of them cried, they were homesick but I wasn't homesick, because by me going to New Jersey and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I could drink, I could drink alcohol and do the best I could. And do the best I could with it, I didn't have mom or dad to, uh, take care of me that way. But once you get out in this world, I'll put it that way, or at that particular time, you had to do what you had to do.

INTERVIEWER: Was the training rigorous?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Oh sure.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me, tell me.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I'll tell you the aggravating one, well we all, it was new to you, physically you had to run. They would not let us walk around the camp if you wanted chow you had to run. You'd come back from chow you had to run, if you were going to the bathroom you had to run. And of course you had some tricky guys who went in about two days before you did, and of course they try to throw the same thing on you the DI's threw on them.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Such as hey boy go down there and get me a handful of sand out that ditch. You'd run down there and get it, now mind you they weren't instructors, but once you found out you tried it on them too. (LAUGH)

INTERVIEWER: Once you, once you got through with your boot camp experience and you were, uh, out, uh, did you ever get liberty and, and go into cities like Wilmington or Jacksonville, or Kinston. And if, I want you to tell me about your experiences in there. They, they were of course segregated towns so tell me what it was like to go into these towns if you went into them?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Well the word got around and of course we also heard that the first guys who, about 300 of them I think it was, who went on liberty, 300 Blacks to Jacksonville, the proprietors and owners of all those shops and the bus station included closed it down. They closed the post office the bus stations, whatever stations they had up there, grocery stores and everything else.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) It was a surprising thing to see that many Blacks come into, to Jacksonville, the city of Jacksonville. I think Jacksonville was real small, a little hick town, uh, speed limit 25 miles per hour, that kind of thing. So, uh, I only went to Jacksonville one time on liberty, the other times I went straight to the bus station when my tenure ended in the, uh, Marine Corps.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) I went to the bus station I either left there and went to Raleigh or either Durham, my home town.

INTERVIEWER: Now tell me about the Jacksonville, the one time you went into Jacksonville, do you recall what the town looks like, looked like?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Yeah it was just a regular (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it looked like everybody who was Black lived on the other side of the tracks. The barber shop was down a little small hill by the tracks, the barber shops were over here and they were there. They had a number one place out on Highway 24 outside of the gate where the 57, 51st Defense Battalion, uh, had their training, and they called it Dew Drop Inn.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) If you dropped in, you dropped in (LAUGH) I didn't, because each time that I got a chance to go on liberty I went straight to Durham to see my family.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, um, what do you remember most about your off base experiences?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Well most of the time, especially when we saw the Blacks, they were surprised to see the Marine Corps emblem on your cap and whatever. How did you get in the Marine Corps, how do you like it that was the question they would put to us. Well we hadn't been in long enough to know, or to summarize anything that, uh, uh, we maybe experienced. But we knew we were there and whatever came up we had to cope with it.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And that meant getting on a bus to get back to camp and at times when you were in, oh, say (WORD?) uh, you couldn't get on a bus and leave the fort, the White marines were the first ones to get on. And there might not have been a place for you to get. I didn't experience that because I'd go to Durham, but when you get back Monday the guys said man we had a hard time getting back.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Then Colonel Woods, I believe it was Colonel Woods or Colonel Stevenson, one of the two who was the CO at 51st Defense Battalion at that time, had to send trucks, or vehicles you might say to the different cities and bring the guys back. Some folks thought they wasn't sure but they wouldn't, you couldn't get on the bus to come back, but, uh, he proved it to be right because he would send them trucks to get them.

INTERVIEWER: And of course this fellow was a White officer?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Yeah White officer definitely.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, um, now when you left Montford Point when you got your, tell me what happened after boot camp when you get your MOS and, and so forth. And what your first duty assignments were and take me through, let's say the Second World War years. Just tell me what you did through those, that period of time?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Okay first of all after we had our 15 day liberty, I believe it was. I was assigned to the 51st Defense Battalion. Now the 51st Battalion had an area of their own where they had their training. And that was at the, uh, Fort Knox, or Camp Knox, which was basically the war dog training area. And that's where I was, I was assigned to the Special Weapons Group.

INTERVIEWER: And tell me where Camp Knox was?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Camp Knox was adjacent across the little inland waterway, a foot bridge, uh, I don't know whether it was south east, but it was back of Montford Point. In other words if you, if anybody's familiar with where the swimming pool was, or where it is in present time it was in back of the swimming pool. Not into the water but back of the swimming pool, that particular area. Or out of the back gate, there wasn't a back gate there when we were there.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) A road leaving out, we had a foot bridge, oh man that footbridge could tell you something too. Some good things and bad things, I won't get to that right now but let me, let me tell you exactly what happened to me. So after I finished boot camp and got back from my furlough, they sent me over to 51st Defense Battalion. And then down into the bottom was where the special weapons group was.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) When I saw special weapons group I mean we actually had training in all the small arms. The 45, the, uh, Thompson's Sub, when I say training on those small arms, we didn't fire them but they had something, have something for us to do during the time that we were being, uh, uh, waiting for the 52nd to be formed. And we were over at the Montford Point area at that time, in the barracks.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Uh we only had, had training with the M1 Rifle, which was boot camp. So when they got to the carbines and all the other (WORD?) . And then of course the 30 millimeter anti aircraft gun, the 50 caliber, the 20 millimeter all these are anti aircraft, uh, things, were taught to us in the 51st defense battalion.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Coast artillery we went on maneuvers in November of 1943, with the 51st and that's where we got our training. We tried to observe everything that those guys did, all of the training they had to learn from them. Not knowing that we were gonna be left back in the one of the 400. To help form the 52nd Defense Battalion, and that's basically what happened.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) But we went on maneuvers, in fact, we were out in the Atlantic Ocean swimming in November. that was crazy, but we did it, the firing, uh, you had to pay attention to something like that especially 155 Coast Artillery, those guys had them, they fired them. And they put the, uh, target about 10 miles nice white pretty sheet, triangular in shape. And you should see it dancing around when they'd fire.

INTERVIEWER: So do, do you, you went out to the 52nd Defense Unit.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: So tell me that?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Okay now in, in, uh, December of 1943 we found out that the 52, 51st was gonna move out. They had a little trouble down in our particular area, there was a little firing going on and so forth so they moved us up on the hill. Uh, they shell fall short, eventually the 51st left. And of course they moved us out from over there all together, and this is where we held this special weapons training over at Montford Point itself.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Then when they formed the 52nd Defense Battalion I was one of the 400 that helped form the 52nd, and as I ride back down that same hole with the special weapons group. And from there we took off for training, here comes some new guys we train those guys. Here comes some more of them we trained those guys we would get to headquarters, mortar transfer headquarters with those guys and train them. Uh, basically on mortar transports.

INTERVIEWER: Were, these were African Americans?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: African Americans we had all White officers, but all of our sergeants, uh, NCO's were Black, I'll put it that way. Uh, we had training like we're supposed to be, uh, radar, 90 millimeter, search light, uh, uh, engineering, uh, mortar transport transportation. All those things and of course watching while down there they actually built a landing down in the Montford Point, special weapons group area.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And they named it Frazier Jetty. I believe that's what it was, and the reason for that the first Black Marine to die in the Marine Corps was named Frazier. I think he was from Virginia, if I'm not mistaken, I might have to be corrected on that. And he was in the, uh, process of net training, getting off the ship and so forth and he fell. So they named it Frazier Jetty.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And what they used it for basically was that all of the officers who stayed in Hadnot Point instead of getting to travel 24 to get back to the 52nd area. They would get a landing craft and they would bring them over and take them back every afternoon. Well that went on until basically we finished all our training and we go, we got to go overseas.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) I think there were four trainees that actually, well we actually went on maneuvers before we went overseas now, St. (WORD?) Beach. But there were four trainees, at the, the part at Montford Point going to California. 'Cause Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, and all four trainees arrived about the same time.

INTERVIEWER: Did you stop at any point on your way out?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: We, we stopped in I, I think that was some parts of Alabama. They would stop and let us, uh, exercise a little bit. Or we'd pull into some station and there were sets of trains and of course people standing there. And of course a lot of them are inquisitive where you Black boys going. Well we kept our mouth shut, but if any of them they start on that train we knew, we knew what to do.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) So these, they, they stayed back, there's no doubt about that. Uh, sometime in traveling with the train moving we're going through the parts, some parts of the country in the South, I'll put it that way. I don't remember exactly where, uh, White children would be on the porch and when we'd pass everybody would be waving, but you'd see some older, or grown folks come out and snatch them and pull them inside the house.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Didn't want them waving at Blacks, well we weren't gonna harm those folks. No way form or fashion, we were trying to go to a war, we fought two wars too, let me put that in there, since I mentioned war we fought the Jim Crow War and the Japanese American War.

INTERVIEWER: Now tell me a little bit about, uh, your overseas assignments in the Second World War?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Okay we were first split up in two groups, uh, group A and group B, I think I was in A 'cause group A went to Majuro in the Marshall Islands. Oh we left, good gracious, or we left (UNINTELLIGIBLE) out in California, San Diego. Next day we looked out there and half of those ships were gone somewhere else. And they say we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gone, but the 3rd or 4th day wasn't nobody out there but our ship. I've forgotten the name of it right now.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) It had a little sub chaser, and half the time during the day we wouldn't see that sub chaser. We were actually afraid, I knew I was, but, when we got to Hawaii that was another blessing. We stayed in Hawaii, uh, on ship, on board ship that was a miserable place too, nice and hot. Everybody things were so close, and then of course, uh, we left out going to Majuro in the Marshall Islands.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And they dropped us off and that's when we really got afraid, because the day before we stopped in Marshall Islands, Majuro, Marshall Islands we didn't see any ships out there but ours. But that night we went in on, uh, Majuro, no lights we didn't know where we were, but the guy told us when you hit the beach you're gonna have to find your hole and get in it. We didn't have any bombs or anything like, this island had been secured.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) But there were still, uh, what do you call it submarine alerts and that kind of thing. So, uh, when daylight came up and you know what was sitting out there in that lagoon the Battleship North Carolina. And to make it sound, uh, as a big blessing that rascal ship looked like she just pours, could knock down anything that came around, that was the best thing that every happened to me.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) But all, other than that we had a nice time on Majuro in Marshall Island, we'd go on patrol. We go scout the islands we'd see that any natives were over there or were there any Japs had been there. And we saw signs of it, but we didn't encounter any shots fired or that kind of thing. And we did it voluntarily we weren't an anti aircraft outfit but we could do the infantry too.

INTERVIEWER: Let me ask you, to expand on this a little bit. It's my understanding that both the 51st and the 52nd were sent in to secure positions during the war? And they're not involved in the actual taking of islands or any combat duty. Would you, would you combat on why you think that's so, and tell me if that was the case?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I don't know what (STAMMERS) for what reason that it turned out that way.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me, tell me if you would Mr. Walker, what turned out that way?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Like the statement you made just a minute ago about who was in charge, that's what I'm thinking that you mean.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me what happened to the 51st and the 52nd.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Well now I can't tell you about the 51st.

INTERVIEWER: I mean did they get to see combat action?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Well I don't know, I have read, I have read.

INTERVIEWER: How about the 52nd then?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: No, you know sometimes I always look at the word and say combat, anybody who went overseas was in combat, I don't know what you did, don't care what you did. But you saw the things a little bit worse than anybody else. Uh, that was one of the things that I, uh, uh, thought about too when you said, many you're going to combat, everybody thinks if you don't hit a beach you're not in combat. But like I said before we fought two wars, don't forget it.

INTERVIEWER: Now tell me a little bit about that second war? (TECHNICAL)

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Oh man that was wide open anybody couldn't stand that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . We were segregated we were humiliated, anything that White people could do to us it happened.

INTERVIEWER: Well what about in the Service, in the Marine Corps?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Now that's some, we'll say that most of the, uh, uh, let's see arrangements and doings that we had with the Whites were outstanding.

INTERVIEWER: Do you mean within the Marine Corps?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Within the Marine Corps, now we're overseas now within the Marine Corps. We turned out, we had some good officers as far as I could see, because I had a good job before, the one in the, uh, special weapons group. I like anti-aircraft and we got a long real, real well, real well. We even had one case where, uh, we had a dining hall on the opposite end of the island and we were on the other end of the island.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) We're running places throughout and these guys would pick certain times through communications to when to go to chow. And this was the northern chow hall, uh, we had put tents up and laid them off the ground put screen on side and put a piece of wood in the center of the floor and it stretched right straight across. That's where you got your chow and your canteen cup and whatever, your mess deal, and that's where you stood up there to eat.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) But we would have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at them because there was fly's over there almost as large as my little finger, when they come swarming down and the guys say here come one, the same if you were flying over a Jet plane, you'd hit him. All those things like that seem to have been sort of crazy, but, uh, that may be the, that made the day. We were not supposed to walk across the airstrip when we'd go to lunch.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Or if you walked, uh, you had to walk the whole mile and across the end of it and then across and then back down to the chow that was right across from you. We got tired of it, and of course you know the shore patrol was trying to chase us, they never did catch us. (LAUGH)

INTERVIEWER: Why were you supposed to walk that way?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: They didn't want anybody on the airstrip at no time and of course, we didn't, uh, we weren't particular about being there anyway 'cause some of the planes would take off and that 1,000 pound bomb. The plane would go up and that little bomb would slide and hit the water. Then the guys who would been down in a similar place of a little dog fight, they'd come in smoking F 4Us' chopper colors, and part of the propeller was cut off, but they smoked, smoked, smoked.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Or they'd come down in time to get Corsair with the airstrip U-turn and come right at you, the brakes would lock up on them, or that kind of thing. Then of course the Air Force they were referring some P-38s that was my favorite plane during World War II, before I went to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Those guys come in there and showing off, of course.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Things like that brings you, your feelings up for what you're doing, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) even though they're a White group, get up there they're the same way. And it makes you think that we, we've really got to get along and whether we like it or not. And we do it, one of the fellows, I think his brother and I heard this, now I'm not sure. His brother was, uh, with the Tuskegee group from Newark, New Jersey, that's where the guy was from.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And then of course the Marines we didn't have any, uh, Marines with bars on them who pilot those planes over there. They were three up, three down and a diamond in the middle, that's what they were, or whatever you call it, I'm not sure the right name what you call it. Master Gunnery Sergeant, or something by that nature anyway, but they're the ones who actually piloted the planes.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And the SBD's were the two man planes with the riding in back of us with twin 30 calibers as the tail gunner and that's where we were trained in flying that 30 caliber in a 50 millimeter, I mean 40 millimeter, uh, 40 millimeter and also the 50 caliber water cooler or air cooler whichever one. But our commander officer found out about it and said the guy would be court martial and the United States Government would not be, uh, responsible for him. So you cannot go up again.

INTERVIEWER: So you had Black Marines who, who flew?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Or such, they weren't' supposed to but they flew, the guys knew what we could do, so, they asked him and the guy was off duty he could go. But if they found out about it they didn't do anymore, though, rest assured, I, I know that for sure.

INTERVIEWER: After, after the war was over tell me a little bit about what you did?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Okay, uh, well finally the bomb was dropped, we knew something was happening. We knew when they invaded Iwo Jima we could tell the actions of how many planes were coming back, how many hospital ships came in. And of course we were moving, we were on Guam at this time, we were moving from one part of the island to another. The last place we were we were up by the 103rd hospital, naval hospital.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And that was way up the side of a mountain so you could see down on the ocean and down in the, the lagoons. And also the, uh, the docking area, you could see exactly what was down there, all, every kind of ship that you could name. Um, when the war was over, boy everybody was glad, they published a, a Navy newspaper over there and of course they'd have listed, on the way home, how many thousands got on the ship to come home.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) That was a blessing, but we needed the, some guys to volunteer for (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to come back with our equipment. Well we were sort of brain washed in that effect they said we were gonna be the first ones who get back to the States. Man and we're gonna put the stuff on the ship and we're going back, and you guys have to stay over and wait for another ship to get you.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Five or six thousand guys going on the ship coming back, and like, sardines packed. So they sent a letter around, or a memorandum around to guys who wanted to be on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . I was one of them, there was 10 all together, we waited 30 whole days for a ship to come in so it could be loaded. It took us another 25, 30 days to get to Norfolk, Virginia, we stopped off in Panama Canal zone for about a half of day of liberty.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Got back out in the Caribbean Sea and I never seen a ship roll the way that one it was less than 39 and 40 degrees. The guy said it went to 45 and it wasn't coming back. But before that when we got to, uh, Panama Canal Zone, also there was a fire on this brand new ship, U.S.S. Turin, AKA 64, I won't forget it. Those guys were running like chickens with their head cut off.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Man settle down you got to put the fire out, tell the guards cut the fans off down in the bottom, that's where the smoke was coming from. They finally got it out, but the first one they called at that fire on the quadroon deck was the 52nd Battalion men must (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . But we knew where it was coming from, the guys had, uh, one of the ships stores and above those holes that were closed down, that's where they had put the, the beds (WORD?) .

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) But the ships (WORD?) right in the same area, so we was standing up there smoking cigarettes, imagine us smoking cigarettes, smashing them out and they went down in between the two covers. And that's where the fire started, we weren't too smart before. But every evening, I want to put this in too, every evening, see sometimes people would play little tricks on you.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Every evening the captain and this other guy who comes around with him, was another top man, they would visit all portions of the ship at 7 :00. So the first thing they told us when they mentioned the (WORD?) back, no more smoking in that particular area. But we wasn't smoking, they were the ones doing the smoking, so we said we'll fix that, they don't want no smoking, nobody smoke down there.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Well when the officer or the captain of the ship came in he opened that door and came in, he stepped in and there's an assistant behind him, came in, the first thing you did was you come and got a cigarette. I guess he can still hear us now (UNINTELLIGIBLE) either one of them, coming back there to inspect.

INTERVIEWER: Did you tell them not to smoke the cigarette?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Well yes and now we became real nice, real nice they won't remember, I mean they will remember, but they won't smoke again in there. So that's, that's basically the way it turned out.

INTERVIEWER: Well how long did you remain in the service after the war?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: Well we finally got back on the ship coming back to, to (STAMMERS) to Norfolk, (STAMMERS) April the 21st 1946, one day after my birthday. But we stayed on the ship a while 30 days and onto the Panama Canal Zone, through (WORD?) down the Caribbean Sea we got to Norfolk. We were supposed to unload the ship, unload the ship with all of our equipment and put them on flat cars.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) The second day we were there we had a railroad strike, so I forgotten the executive officer at Montford Point that particular time but he told us to convoy down to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . That's what we did, we convoyed down, and of course, the guys beat us. We ran out of gas and had to turn the knob to get the other second tank that kind of stuff. We also, let me put this in here too, there were five White guys.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Man we had some kind of fun on that ship, they were on the same ships with us coming back. And I've forgotten what outfit they were but we actually had just a swell time, playing cards, telling jokes, listening to music all that kind of stuff. When we got to Norfolk, uh, they said well we're gonna get our, um, uh, vehicles and we are all going down Highway 17 together.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And we got on Highway 17 so far we decided that they wanted to get some food, uh, we stopped, there was 10 of us and five of them. And of course we had, uh, a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I've forgotten his name, (WORD?) I believe it was. He went into this restaurant to actually see (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . And the guy told him that we couldn't eat.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) Well we didn't know that at first, but see eventually man you could smell a dead end rat stinking. So that's what happened they said we couldn't eat, we eventually ate though. The guy said he was gonna report some of these former fashions in the federal government and they wouldn't receive any, uh, subsistent or they, they wouldn't be catering to them, or whatever it was.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And the guy had to give in, but after that we made it down to Montford Point take your trucks in and the guys wouldn't give us, they said we had to have so many men to be discharged. They (WORD?) six years you receive three months liberty with pay, 'cause they say it's not that you guys don't want to go back out there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you guys not gonna give me my discharge I want my 30 days furlough, they could not refuse.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) So for 30 days I went home, getting paid for it at the same time, when I got back I was discharged and I went straight home. Well after that everything turned out just about the way we wanted it, we, went home to get jobs, I went to school at the Central for a year. And from there to, uh, (WORD?) Radio Institute, radio repair and so forth.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And then a course in electrical wiring, I finished both courses and before I finished the second course, uh, the gentleman went into business, uh, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) father, one of our legislators here, his father was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an insurance company. And of course he formed a union, electric company and I was the first electrician to work (UNINTELLIGIBLE) .

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) His father was W.B. McNeil and he was a graduate of A & T State University, uh, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . McNeil was one of the instructors, uh, I'm trying to think of the other, uh, uh, gentleman that was, an instructor at A & T that would come down. Mr. Hanna from Winston-Salem I didn't know him at that time. Uh, Mr. Bolin, A.C. Bolin, who was an instructor at A & T.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) He'd come down to Durham at the, the school, and (WORD?) from Durham, those three guys or four fellows were instigated in teaching us electronics you might say. And of course it turned out to be my bread and butter for 43 years.

INTERVIEWER: Now you, you had a career in (TECHNICAL)

INTERVIEWER: (CONTINUED) I'd like to ask you two more questions, first I'd like to know, uh, what do you think the historical significance of the Montford Point Marines is, have you thought about that?

JOSEPH B. WALKER:Sure, uh, as we said before that, uh, a lot of people didn't know there were Blacks in the Marine Corps during World War II. I myself went to the library in Winston-Salem in 1990, '96 I believe it was because I heard there was a book Blacks In The Marine Corps, published by the Federal Government, that, uh, we could check out. So I checked it out, and I got a few copies and some more information as such.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And the listing of the different outfits that were, that the Blacks were in during World War II. The Depots, the, uh, (WORD?) companies, and the 51st and 52nd Defense Battalion. I have to give praise to those guys who were in the Depots and the ammo companies. Especially the ammo companies. Somebody had to supply those guys who were doing the fighting with the ammunition.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) And I've heard that they were not recognized during the time that they were having the Iwo Jima, uh, uh, uh, meeting or whatever it was. And of course, uh, one of the fellows, I can't think of his name, he and Brooks Gray wrote a book, I have the book myself. And it explains then exactly what happened to the, what happened to the guys in the ammo companies and what they did.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) They actually had to pick the rifles up too when they were going to Iwo Jima, and certainly other places too, also. But these guys somebody had to praise them in some way, form or fashion. Now I'll admit we did our job, they did theirs, we did ours. This is what we were assigned to, uh, we were also assigned when we were on Guam to cleaning up graves and being stevedores.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) But that didn't hurt, that didn't hurt us, but we did have some officers who were not members of our outfit to go out there and stop it. They'd ride along the highway and see you out there in the graveyard scratching bullet, pulling grass that kind of, I heard this now. And I do know the fellows some who were out there, the guy told them you all go back to your outfit I'll take care of it.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) I don't know whether that was a commanding officer or not, but, uh, there was things like that, they have to be given praise and I give it to them. In fact I give all of them praise right at the present time because we're in a terrible situation and I don't care who it is, everybody should take a little quiet time to say a prayer for every person who is sent overseas, at home or on the camp base for what they're doing.

JOSEPH B. WALKER: (CONTINUED) What they're done and what they got to do and what they have done already.

INTERVIEWER: Let me ask you how do you feel now about having been a Montford Point Marine, what are your, what are your personal feelings now?

JOSEPH B. WALKER: I, I feel good, I feel good, as a matter of fact our president who has been in the Air Force I feel it's as good as what he does. (TECHNICAL)


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