One of the first black Marines shares stories of trial and triumph

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Friday was the day we honored those who have served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country.

If it wasn't for these men and women, we wouldn't be able to stand here now and we thank them for that.

I sat down with a 92-year-old Marine veteran Friday. He says it makes him happy, he's proud to be an American and it was an honor to serve although it wasn't easy.

"We knew we were changing the course of history. We knew, that's why we went into the Marine Corps," said John White Sr.

White is one of the first 1,500 black Marines. They graduated from Montford Point at Camp Lejune. Only a few of them from the 51st Defense Battalion are still alive today.

"And we had suffered a lot of indignities from our drill instructors at that time, but I'm glad I changed over from a wimp to a man," said White.

Some were threatened and even arrested for wearing the uniform after infiltrating an all-white organization.

"Sometimes I sit down with tears in my eyes just thinking about some of the activities as a police officer and as a marine, that we suffered the indignities but we survived and I'm proud of it," said White.

It was his courage that pushed him through to break down the color barrier.

The Montford Point Marines were recognized for their service back in 2012 with congressional gold medals.

"Regardless of race, creed, color or sex because all of us are Americans and we should treat each and everybody equally," White said.

Despite the struggles he endured, he says Veterans Day means a lot to him.

"There are too many veterans who have worked hard dies and bled, bled and died to protect this democracy," White said.

He says it's an honor to have served this country.

"I'm proud of being an American."

You may have recognized White as he also broke barriers in the public safety field. He is one of the "Original Nine". The first black uniformed officers in the state of Georgia, right here in Savannah.

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