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Cross / Experiences in the Marine Corps

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Cross: I said, “I cannot believe this. Here I am in the Marine Corps.” We got to the barracks and had to use the restroom and so I came out of the Quonset hut and I was trying to ask somebody just passing, “Where is the restroom? Where is the restroom?” So, one guy said, “See that building right in the middle there, that’s the restroom. That’s the head.” So, okay. I went on down there and I came out and I’m walking down the sidewalk and a guard grabbed me on the shirt like this and said, “Where are you going? Why are you out here?” That made me angry and I said, “I was going to the restroom.” He said, “That is not a restroom. That’s a head.” I said, “Well, whatever it is, that’s where I was going.” Then I got back in the Quonset Hut and I was telling them, I said, “Say, I was out there, and the guard grabbed me.” They were looking, and they said, where is he? I said, “There he is. He going right there. He grabbed me and asked me where I was going and I’m just getting here.” That was my first experience in the Marine Corps. Then, they let us go—we said we wanted to call our people and all that because it was close to Christmas. I think I was drafted about the twenty-third of December or something like that. So, I called my mother and she said, “I’ve sent you a gift.” I’m trying to figure out how did she know. I can’t figure that out, but anyway, I talked to my mother on the phone. Told her that I was in San Diego. Then that’s when she sent me a gift and I told her the address and everything. She sent me a gift, a Christmas card with five dollars in it. I talked to her again on the phone, she said, “It ought to be there by now.” So, here I am, still a civilian and I asked one of the guys where do I go if I want to check my mail. He told me to go to this Quonset hut down there. So, I went down there, and you have to knock to get in. So, I knocked, and they said, “Enter.” This guy said, “Can I help you?” and I said—I think it was at the—but anyway, I said, “I wanted to see if I had any mail because my mother was sending me a Christmas gift.” He said, “Well, we’ll check. What are you?” I said, “I’m a Marine.” He looked at me and he said, “You are not a Marine. You are a boot. Get that in your head. You are not a Marine. Get down there and give me some pushups.” Then I was getting angry because I’m saying here I am just trying to see about some mail and here’s a man got me doing push-ups and stuff. So, I got down, did the pushups and then he gave me my letter and I went back to my Quonset hut. Then, I’m angry. Then I told the other guys in there. There was about seventy-five of us in there. I said, “Guard made me do pushups. I went to the Post Office to get my mail.” They said, “He did?” I said, “Yeah, he had me down doing pushups.” That made me so angry. So, that was my introduction into bootcamp. I was ready to leave right then.

Interview Interview with Herbert Cross
Subjects Race Relations › Black-White Race Relations
Discrimination or Segregation › Discrimination or Segregation of Public Accommodations
Military › Discrimination in Military
Military › Military Bases and Posts
Family › Parents
Tags United States Marine Corps
Racial Discrimination
Restrooms
Bootcamp
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Interview date 2016-06-20
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Cross, Herbert
Interviewers May, Meredith
Locations Dallas, TX
Duration 00:04:10
Citation "Experiences in the Marine Corps," from Herbert Cross oral history interview with Meredith May,  June 20, 2016, Lufkin, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database, https://crbb.tcu.edu/clips/2390/being-in-the-marie-corps, accessed December 08, 2019