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Cross / Great Assignment in the Marine Corps

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Cross: When we got ready to go somewhere, we would go on a flagship. So, I got good duty like that. We would go down to Vieques Island and we’d invade it and do all that stuff. Then we could get liberty every weekend. So, my first port, they’d have a lot of ships out there and ones going to certain countries. I picked Havana, Cuba. That was my first country I went in. That’s when Bautista was president. So, we would go in at twelve and then we’d have to be back at the docks at twelve that night and go back to our ships. So, we had a good time in Havana, Cuba. Then, the next weekend we said, “Let’s go to Haiti. Port-au-Prince.” So, we got on that ship. Went to Port-au-Prince and I went by Papa Doc’s—he had a big old councilor kind of thing where the king lived, and I took pictures. I stood out by the fence and took pictures of Papa Doc—kind of like the White House. That was his. We always wanted to eat a steak when we got in a country, so we went to the place where they got the longest bar in the world in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Then we went to a steakhouse, ordered steak. When they brought me mine, blood was running all out of it and stuff. They didn’t speak any English. I said, “I can’t eat this steak. Take it back and cook it some more. That’s all you got to do.” He didn’t understand what I was talking about. I said I ain’t paying for it. He understood that so then about four or five people came out. I told the rest of them well, we might have to fight here because—then some guy come out that could speak English because they just spoke French. He told them to cook it some more and we got out of that fight. We thought we were going to have to fight our way out of the steakhouse. Then, the next weekend, I went to Panama in Cristobal. That’s where the Panama Canal was so we went down to the Panama Canal. I took pictures of Japanese ships coming through. German ships and everything. So, we had a good time at Cristobal. Then, when weekend we went to Kingston, Jamaica and we had a good time there. Kingston, Jamaica we went to a park that had all kinds of orchids, all kinds of different, beautiful orchids growing. Where else did we go? We went—let me see—oh, Virgin Islands. Saint Thomas. They got a St. Croix in Samoa. I never understood why Saint Croix is spelled with a C. And they say, “Saint Troy.” Doesn’t make sense, but anyway. So, and we just went to a lot of islands like that and just had a good time. It would be in the winter time and the coldest it’s going to get in the Caribbean was about seventy degrees, so we just had a good time. That was while I was at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that’s all we did. Just went to the Caribbean and had a good time. Played invade the island and do that.

Interview Interview with Herbert Cross
Subjects Military › Korean War
Military › Military Bases and Posts
Tags Batista, Fulgencio
Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
United States Marine Corps
Military Ports
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Interview date 2016-06-20
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Cross, Herbert
Interviewers May, Meredith
Locations Havana, Cuba
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Panama Canal, Panama
Kingston, Jamaica
Duration 00:04:27
Citation "Great Assignment 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,, accessed January 20, 2020