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This web site was supported by the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research, through a grant with South Carolina State University and developed by the University of North Carolina Wilmington, working in close cooperation with the Montford Point Marines Museum at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

RICHARD WALKER

July 24th, 2004


Richard Walker, from Macon, Georgia, served with the 7th and 8th Ammunition Companies on occupied Guam during World War II. A career Marine, he fought in Korea during the capture of Seoul and at the Chosin Reservoir. He resides in Woodbridge, Virginia.


INTERVIEWER: ...today's date.

RICHARD WALKER: Richard H. Walker. W-A-L-K-E-R.

INTERVIEWER: Today's date.

RICHARD WALKER: Today's date is the 24th of July, 2004.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you, sir. Will you tell us a little bit about your background before joining the Marines? Where you're from, your family and your education.

RICHARD WALKER: I'm from Macon, Georgia. My background, I completed the tenth grade at a private school in Atlanta. Uh, my dad was a railroad man. We had a little old small bungalow down there. And there was four of us. My dad lived to be a pretty ripe old age of 87 years old. My mom, she lived to be a, a ripe old of 89. I am the baby (LAUGH) at 65. And I think that's a ripe old age. (LAUGH)

INTERVIEWER: Um, (STAMMERS) why exactly did you join the Marine Corps?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, I wanted to do something for my country. I think that was number one. And secondly, I didn't want to be a boy. I didn't see equal opportunities for me in that city. And I said, let me go where I can be along with everybody else in this country. And I joined the Marines.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me, uh, tell me a little bit about the day that you left home to, to come to, uh, Montford Point.

RICHARD WALKER: Well, (CLEARS THROAT) I can't remember too much of that. I know my street had a party for about four of us going to Camp Lejeune. And we took the train into Wilmington and from there, we went to Jacksonville and at that point, I saw the segregation. We had orders that read Montford MPC Camp New River, North Carolina and that was the key in the orders to determine whether you was White or Black. The White guy orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) We had orders stating New River, Jacksonville, North Carolina. So that, when we got there, once they saw that, you were shuffled into a different area. We had some kids that was very light complected (SIC) and some squeezed in through the mix. But that's when I first encountered this little prejudice in the Marine Corps. And I was shocked.

INTERVIEWER: Uh, (CLEARS THROAT) when you got to, uh, got to Camp Lejeune and you got to, uh, Montford Point, so forth, do you remember anything about that day when you first walked through the gates of (WORD?) of (STAMMERS) of the base?

RICHARD WALKER: Yes. I thought everybody I saw was crazy (LAUGH). Really (LAUGH). They gave out all kinds of (WORD?) about this and this and who I am and all this kind of stuff. And I said, these people are crazy. And they treated you like dirt. But after four or five days, you kind of rolled into the scene with them. But I didn't plan on staying there.

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) During your, uh, during your time there, at Montford Point, uh, can you talk a little bit about the camaraderie among the troops. Uh, uh, I mean the kinds of things y'all did, uh, you know, just to make it through, and how you stuck together and if, if you did and a little bit about that.

RICHARD WALKER: We didn't have much camaraderie. We was so busy, they kept us going so fast there during our training. And, uh, Sunday was supposed to our afternoon off, because of church. After that, you're supposed to write letters and play ball and all this kind of stuff. But that wasn't the case in the area where I was down there. We went on the field on, on a Sunday afternoon. And they chased rabbits and squirrels and all this kind of stuff.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) I thought it was ridiculous. So, by being a southern boy from the South, I knew that you had no business putting a hand on a squirrel. So, some of them guys, them New Yorkers, they didn't know what to think about this. So, they would chase a squirrel up a tree. And they would send 15 guys up the tree and hollering and going on. And the squirrel be just running all over the place. And we would be around the base of the tree.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And then the instructor say, when he come out of there, you better grab him. And man, he come down and got on his arm, oh, man, it just tore him up. You know, and that was some of the things that I didn't really care for on Sunday afternoon there at Montford Point.

INTERVIEWER: Um, if I understand from some of the other folks we talked to that they had, uh, athletic teams and, you know, programs.

RICHARD WALKER: (OVERLAPPING) We had potato racing and all that kind of stuff. And they strived on carrying the dough down to the barracks. I don't know why. (LAUGH) But they did.

INTERVIEWER: Um, tell me, uh, can you talk a little bit about liberty in and around the Jacksonville area. What were your experiences when you went on liberty?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, number one, there was no transportation from out there so we walked into J-ville. And once we got in there, uh, it was segregated. We could only go in a certain place and that was across the railroad tracks. The bus station, we had a seat on the rear of the bus. The remainders of the seats, we couldn't sit on. So, we would stand up sometime from, uh, Jacksonville to Kinston or to New Bern or to Wilmington.

INTERVIEWER: Did you have any negative experiences, uh, you know, resulting from this?

RICHARD WALKER: Not really. Because it turned out to be, this was the way it was. And we adjust to that. And eventually, we started kicking a little butt around there (LAUGH).

INTERVIEWER: Can you, can you talk to me a little bit about that? And when did you, what did you, what do you mean by that?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, once they put us, accepted us on the other side of the railroad tracks, uh, that was a lot of good little liberty over there and little things, which you might consider red light and so forth. So these Caucasian would drift over there. And man, you didn't want come over there (LAUGH). So, I don't know. You don't wanna come over there.

INTERVIEWER: Um, then, uh, did you ever go out to Kinston or did you ever go down to Wilmington or New Bern, any of those?

RICHARD WALKER: (OVERLAPPING) Kinston was, was my town. I liked Kinston. I would go to Wilmington. Every now and then, the nursing school had a lot of little activity. And during that time frame, they used to bring, uh, uh, young ladies in from Wilmington to the camp to entertain us on the weekends, so, uh, and New Bern and around. But for some reason, I kind of, liked Kinston. So, that's where I mostly, I went.

INTERVIEWER: Now when you left, uh, when you left Montford Point, uh, what, what did you do? Where did you go?

RICHARD WALKER: I left Montford Point, went to Morehead City, took a ship, sailed down to the Panama. Came in to San Diego. Stayed there a little while, couple days or whatever. From there, to Hawaii, couple days. And from there, I landed on Guam. I was in the 7th and 8th Ammunition Depot on Guam. And we unloaded and loaded ammunition and stuff of that nature.

INTERVIEWER: Did, did you, uh, did you see any combat?

RICHARD WALKER: No, I didn't see any combat during World War II.

INTERVIEWER: Uh, when, when you were over, uh, when you were over there in the Far East, what was life like for you on Guam? What, what did you do?

RICHARD WALKER: What?

INTERVIEWER: Did you, did you have any, uh, experiences?

RICHARD WALKER: (CLEARS THROAT) No. The Guamanians was very religious. And they then didn't take too much to us. Somehow, we was considered, uh, a different human being. And when they saw us, they would go across the street. Or turn around and go different places. So, we had no action. About the only people that we really got to talk to in that, as a Guamanian was some of the people that aboard the base to bring stuff or pick up stuff. And normally that was a Poppysan or somebody of that nature.

INTERVIEWER: And, uh, how long were you there on Guam?

RICHARD WALKER: Hmm. I stayed Guam to, about a year.

INTERVIEWER: So, after that tour of duty, uh, what, what, what, what happened in your career?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, after that tour of duty, I got out. 'Cause I saw just how prejudiced and everything it was. So, when they integrated the service, I went back in 1948 thinking that there was a major change. And there wasn't a major change. So, I'm gonna get out in 1950. Then they extended everybody and I went to Korea.

INTERVIEWER: Talk, talk to us a little bit about, uh, about that. When, when did you go and, and, uh, did, did you find that things were changing in, in any way?

RICHARD WALKER: When I got back in 1948, it just like I left. The integration, I didn't see anything whatsoever. The units we was with in Camp Lejeune was a mixed unit, paper wise. We lived downstairs in one of those big old red barracks. And they lived upstairs, or just visa versa. And if this company had police call, for certain area, we police, they didn't police or if they was down or below, they didn't police.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) We did all that policing and cut grass and all that kind of stuff. I mean, the platoon sergeant that we had, they was geared to that. So, we just raised a whole lot of sand, why don't you go upstairs and get them guys out, there's 33 of them up there belongs to this company, you know, and stuff like that. But, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

INTERVIEWER: So, did you, did you, did you act, did you serve in, in Korea?

RICHARD WALKER: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Talk to us a little bit about your service there.

RICHARD WALKER: Well, as I said, uh, I came back to get out. And came back to get out this Marine Corps in 1950. I was home waiting discharge. And I got a letter to report to Camp Lejeune immediately. Well, Hawaii at that time was considered overseas. So, I said well, I just spent 28 months overseas. I know they ain't talking about me. So, I shoved off and went to Camp Lejeune like a little fool (LAUGH).

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And the Colonel said everybody in this outfit is going including me. So, we messed around then packed up and got troop trains and all that kind of stuff. And we shelled across country. And came into Del Mar, Camp Pendleton. We stuck around there a week or so. And they hashed out in various, uh, units and all this kind of stuff. And we took a ship out of San Diego. And went into Kobe.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) We stayed in Kobe, I guess, (MAKES NOISE) somewhere around two weeks or maybe a little longer. But we were waiting on other troops to catch up with us there to make the big landing, uh, on the 15th of September. Plus they had to kind of, school us on the language out there. And where to go, they had a lot of Communists in Japan and all this kind of stuff and neighborhoods and we was restricted in going into them.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And they kept us there long enough indoctrinated us on those areas and what to look for and all this kind of stuff. And we made the landing in Inchon September the 5th. I make the landing around 6:42 in the afternoon.

INTERVIEWER: That was one of the most famous landings, uh, in, in the Marine Corps history. Can you give us your perceptions of that day and how things were and?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, I was scared as hell, number one. And I had never seen a Korean. And my major objective was to see one. And if I can survive till daybreak, I would get through this war. And man, we fought and stuff all over all night and all this kind of stuff. And I finally survived today. And things looked a little better. And we went on up to Seoul, which was the main objective.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) To capture Seoul and we would be home in December. We captured Seoul and gave it to the Army and we had to go back and get it again. We lost a lot of lives taking Seoul the first time. Because we was fighting according to some General by the name of Ridgeway, I think. We was not fighting the Marine Corps type of fighting. So, the second time we went back, we kind of brought a little more Marine Corps spirit in there.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) We kind of toasted it up quite a bit. And we went on up to Hamhung. Hamhung. We secured it. Just like walk around here. And the Third Army come in there and relieved us. And we went on up north. We went on up on the Chosen and we stayed there for about nine days waiting on MacArthur to sign some kind of treaty. We was authorized to fire the weapons every hour or something like that to keep from freezing up. And they decided to pull us out of there 'cause we couldn't stay there. And that's when the holy hell went out. The war went.

INTERVIEWER: Were you there during the time when the Marines were nicknamed it the Frozen Chosen?

RICHARD WALKER: That's what it was.

INTERVIEWER: Tell us about that. I mean that, that's a real famous, you know, in, in the annals of Marine Corps history, that's a real, I, I can remember hearing it when I was going through OCS and all of this the Frozen Chosen. Will you bring that to life for us here?

RICHARD WALKER: The Frozen Chosen meant to a Marine, we was always, uh, in the South Pacific area, in tropical type weather, situations. We had never been in nothing like that. When we went to Korea, we had that old jungle boot and leggings, the heaviest article we had was a field jacket. And some of the men, like me, didn't have long johns 'cause when I was a kid growing up, my mother used to make me wear them.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And I said, when I ever get where, I don't have to wear this. I won't wear it. Well, they had a record, in your record book, they put it in there whether you was ever issued. Once you was issued, if you're going any place, then they saw your records, say yeah, we was issued. But back, during that time, if something wear out, you take the quartermaster and they exchange item for item.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) So, I was kind of omitted during that stuff 'cause they look at my records. Oh, you haven't been issued long johns. And I got out there, and there wasn't no long johns. And everything out there was cold. The Chosen was cold. Food was cold. Frozen. You know, so it was just, everything out there was, was frozen. (COUGH)

INTERVIEWER: How did you keep warm?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, (LAUGH) we built little fires. Uh, somebody gave us a little brandy. Uh, it must have got back to the Chicago and they raised a whole lot of hell about it. And the fact is, Chesty gave us a little brandy. Little beer every now and then, when we could get it. And that was kind of inspiring to the troops.

INTERVIEWER: And how long were you actually in that situation?

RICHARD WALKER: I went in Korea in September and I came out the 15th of April, following year. I had 28 months overseas time. So, as soon anybody come out of Korea, I was eligible to come out. So, I came out with the Army into Sasebo, Japan, and they brought us out cross country and threw us on a base. That was about 20, 25 Marines, I guess it was. And, uh, didn't know what to do with us. So they gave us a barracks.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And the Red Cross was very, very nice out there at that time. So, we would go to the Red Cross, and have doughnuts and coffee in the mess hall and eat. And somebody go into Korea would pick up a ration card and hustle a pack of cigarettes here and there and we'd get money. And we stayed there for quite a while and some old Marines come through there amazed wanting to know what was we doing there. We told them.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) So they got hold to somebody and they got us out of there. But we didn't want to go any farther. We liked it there. And according to them, that when the rotation was out of Korea, (COUGH) they left space for 55 or 100 men on this ship that was coming through there. They come back to (WORD?). And we're not taking that ship. So, we were screwing up their whole rotation process. So they sent our little butt out of there.

INTERVIEWER: After, uh, so, after that, Korean experience, uh, well, where did you go?

RICHARD WALKER: Headquarters in Marine Corps.

INTERVIEWER: Stayed up there for how long?

RICHARD WALKER: Say Headquarters Marine Corps, '53 went to Portsmouth. Marine Corps supply (WORD?) annex till '55. Albany till '57. Went to Barstow, stayed in Barstow till '59. I done the Fifth Marines when I came back. I stayed Fifth Marines until the Cuban blockade. I went to Cuba one seven.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience there?

RICHARD WALKER: At the fifth Marines or the one seven?

INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) At the blockade.

RICHARD WALKER: The blockade, I was really upset. I was on the first raid of the first craft. Reinforced our team and a Cuban interpreter. And my name's Walker. I said, how did this happen? (LAUGH)

INTERVIEWER: What, what happened?

RICHARD WALKER: Nothing happened. We went in there but, uh, I was all upset. I just couldn't understand that. And we came out of there, I walked around like a pigeon. I was, you know, gonna go in there first, (LAUGH), you know, (LAUGH).

INTERVIEWER: And then your, your next combat experience was, uh, was Vietnam, I understand.

RICHARD WALKER: I went to Vietnam but I wasn't in a combat situation. I left for Quantico to go to Hawaii to leave Master Sergeant, just say, Joe Smith. And I asked him, I said, why are you guys sending me out there? I said, I'm getting out. They said, this guy got to get back in here. We need you out there. And they changed my MOS. And I said, I haven't been working in this field in ten years.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) Why did you change my MOS? They said, well, you look good to us. I said, okay, wanna waste your money. So, I went on out there. Got to Hawaii. Got to Okinawa. They said, you going to FLC. I said, where's that? Said force of discommand in RBN. I said, I'm supposed to relieve this Master Sergeant right here on these orders. And I said, that's a mere fact, got to reassign you, you're going to RVN.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) So I went to RVN. Civilian airline in a Class A uniform and an attaché case (LAUGH). Got to my unit, they got hit last night. And stuff was everywhere. So I really didn't want to be there. The, S-1 officer told me, he didn't know what to do with me. This was in January. He said, I don't have a job here around April or May. And I said, gee, what do you got in DeNang?

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And he said, they don't have anything in De Nang but there's an R and R center this side. They might be able to use me. They need a hotel manager. And that's where I went.

INTERVIEWER: And, and you stayed there for?

RICHARD WALKER: I stayed there for approximately, seven months. And I think the reason why they sent me on out there, I was right on top of promotion list okay? So, they knew that I was going to have spend more time out there. So, my work came out there and they tried (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know what I mean? So, my boss said I was at Red Beach last night. There's a warrant out there for you.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) I said, I know it's been out here two months (LAUGH). So, (LAUGH) I went over there and they promoted me. And I guess because I looked so young and everything. I didn't sign nothing. So I came back and a little time later, I told the Sergeant Major, I said, when you guys gonna get me out of here? I said, my ES is up so and so. And he said, didn't you just get promoted?

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) I said, yes, I did. He said, well, you signed a waiver for two years. I said, I didn't sign nothing. And he went and he checked. And he found out that, that they did goof off in the administrative area. So, they gave me a little sob story here and there. I write my wife and tell her what to do. She is working at Quantico. Instead of her doing what I told her to do, she listened to some major.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And time frame, it took a week to get a letter out there and a week back. So, I went on extended in, in, uh, Vietnam. Plus they told me that I would not be able to retire if I didn't fulfill a cycle in Vietnam. So, I extended out there.

INTERVIEWER: Let me go back a little bit to your career in war experience. Uh, when did you find out, uh, and how did you feel that, that you were in line to go to Korea? You, you had mentioned that, uh, in, in you're absolutely right that, uh, the Marines normally fought in tropical areas. You know, warm and so forth. Uh, but I'm sure that the word had gotten back that Korea was cold and, and then so forth.

RICHARD WALKER: No, it wasn't really cold in September. But as I said, we had never been in that part of the country. And we really didn't know anything about it. Uh, as far as the troops concerned. Now, headquarters might have known everything in the world. But we didn't know anything about it. And we went out there, we had families sending us stuff out there to wear. It's just how bad it was out there. Those boys trying to stay warm and so forth.

INTERVIEWER: What was the, what was the general feeling among other Marines? Did they feel pretty much the same way? Did they talk about it? And, and in that such?

RICHARD WALKER: No, we tried to stay alive (LAUGH). We tried to stay alive.

INTERVIEWER: Well, during that time, was your MOS, uh, would it had been throughout your career? Basically logistics, supplies?

RICHARD WALKER: No. Uh, basically, at that time frame, you had to spend three years in F-and-F.

INTERVIEWER: As an infantry, infantry and, is that what you mean? So, you went on.

RICHARD WALKER: (OVERLAPPING) Or surrounded in, as an infantry. Now, okay? So, I came back. See, when I was in Hawaii, I was doing MP duty. I carried a 5,800 something MOS at that point. But it still considered F-and-F duty. I came back into San Francisco and they asked me, did I want to stay in F-and-F. And I said, what? He said, you got enough time. You can get out.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And at that time frame, the Marine Corps had about, maybe four schools that we knew of. So I went to supply school. Marine barracks, Camp Lagune. And from that point on, I stayed around a supply type MOS. I had numerous supply MOS's during my time frame. But I stayed around. Basically, they all was 30 day, was 30, 42's, 51's, 50's or whatever. It was all basically in that supply area.

INTERVIEWER: In, in Korea, what, how long did you actually stay there, uh?

RICHARD WALKER: I stayed there from September the 15th till about the 15th of, of March.

INTERVIEWER: And, and when, what is, uh, was it a violent combat? I mean, were you involved in violent combat during that period of time?

RICHARD WALKER: Yes. Well, we came back from the chosen, we came back down and went back up the eastern front. And we was, heavily fighting all up through there. Up until somebody told me I was rotating out. And I said, hey, I'm going, I've got the boots on. I've got the boots on. They throw me with the Army and sent me back to Sasebo, Japan.

INTERVIEWER: Did you, when you, and when you were, you were there as an infantry?

RICHARD WALKER: Right. We, the most of the unit that I was with, was a combat service unit. That was the name of it. First Combat Service Group.

INTERVIEWER: And you saw heavy action? Heavy fighting? Do you remember any, any particular types of, uh, situation that you found yourself in that you found to be difficult? Scary or unique or unusual?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, the whole thing was scary, sir. (LAUGH). The whole thing was scary. But, no, not really.

INTERVIEWER: Okay. Let me ask you this, uh, um, Mr. Walker, uh, is there anything else that you would like to tell us, uh, that, uh, we can make a part of this documentary that will hopefully last for all time uh, about your career, your experiences in the Marine Corps, uh, the Montford Point Marine, uh, camaraderie?

RICHARD WALKER: Well, I would say during the Montford Point era, you had some of the finest men that ever walked the earth. They're very devoted to their job and their comrades. And we did duty that nobody else did. And you had to be strong in order to do that. In fact, that movie out there in San Francisco, uh, uh, where all them guys got blown up out there on, what's it? Chicago. Something like that. In that area. The ammo outfit. Was out there.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) Something happened. Well, that ammo outfit, we was in on Guam. Was about the same thing. The only thing I didn't see was money train. (LAUGH) You either did this today. Or you did it tonight. Or you did all night. So, if, if your unit had 200 tons of ammunition to move today, you either moved it today. Or when night fall, you were still moving it. And if you didn't carry your load, somebody took down behind the building (LAUGH). And came back, you started carrying your load.

INTERVIEWER: You, you had a, had a long, uh, career in the Marine Corps. You know, uh, you, you, you did a lot of things. Uh, can you, can you tell us about your feelings with respect to if you had to do it all over again, would you? Can you tell me how you'd feel?

RICHARD WALKER: I would leave today. You got better weapons. And better trained personnel today. I would do it all over again.

INTERVIEWER: But if were, if somehow, either you were transferred back in time and knowing what you know right now, would you?

RICHARD WALKER: I wouldn't be there in five minutes. (LAUGH) I would be there five minutes.

INTERVIEWER: But you do believe that the experience, uh, well, tell us about what you think about the experience you had with respect to influencing the rest of your life.

RICHARD WALKER: Well, I think it made me a much better person. It made me see a lot of things in life that I had seen already. And this was just peanuts to me. So, when you have to sit on the back of the bus, that mean nothing to me. 'Cause I had (STAMMERS) experienced all that. You know, and it just another one of things that you have to cope with. And I wasn't, wasn't going crying over it.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) If you're in that part of the country, you have to deal with what you, what you got. It's, I came to Quantico in '63, I had to, I couldn't eat in a restaurant. I said, what is this? So, I finally got to see the, the Chief Of Staff. I, I went to see the General. And I talked to the Chief Of Staff and he talked to me for quite a while.

RICHARD WALKER: (CONTINUED) And he said, well, I can't even take care of that. And I understand that General and the Chief Of Staff got in a little vehicle and they went to all the insulations around that area and said, you serve one Marine, all Marines or no Marines. And the thing kind of lifted. But I came in '63, you couldn't eat in downtown Quantico. And I couldn't believe that.

INTERVIEWER: Sir, thank you very much.


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