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This Veterans Day, Meet A 95-Year-Old Who Helped Break The Marines' Color Barrier

Ninety-five-year-old World War II veteran Luther Hendricks poses with some of his military honors. (Hendricks Family/U.S. Marine Corps)
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When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Luther Hendricks was just a teenager. But he wanted to defend his country.

"Once President Roosevelt declared war, I went down the next day to the recruiting station to join up, and I was told they didn't take coloreds in the Marines," Hendricks said.

Ultimately, Roosevelt ordered all branches of the U.S. armed forces to accept black recruits. Thousands enlisted in the Marine Corps, though they were segregated from white troops.

White Marines were trained at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. But black men went through grueling training at nearby Montford Point, earning the moniker "Montford Point Marines."

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Hendricks, now 95, remembers the racism he endured before serving his country in Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and elsewhere.

But he says, things weren't much better after the war ended. "We fought segregation fighting over there, and we fought segregation when we got back home over here."


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