Hidden History: Augusta native shares history of Montford Point Marines: First all black Marine Corp to serve in World War II

AUGUSTA, GA. (WJBF) - From 1942 to 1945 over 20,000 African American men were sent overseas to Japan to fight in World War II. Among them was Augusta Native Freddie Bush. At the age of 24 Bush was drafted in the military where he joined the Marine Corps Bush received basic training at a segregated Marine camp known as Montford Point in Jacksonville, NC. Bush, now 98-years-old recalls difficult training and harsh living conditions.

"We went through training and the sergeant told us that If you want to get back home do what we say and be sure to pay attention to your sergeants," said Bush.

Bush says the marines were tasked with assignments based on their weight and their height. Anyone over 160 pounds was sent to combat or assigned to deliver ammunition to those on the front lines. Because he was small in stature Bush was assigned to a maintenance position as a mechanic for the motor pool. Many of the Marines he formed relationships with died in combat.

Bush's younger son William, inspired by his father's patriotism also went on to join the military. Remembering the stories his father shared with him while serving in the military helped prepare him for his journey.

"I look at the fact that he had so much going on. He had so much adversity and different things that he had to be confronted with as a young black soldier, especially the marines which was totally segregated. Now that I'm looking at it and its Black History month I'm proud of him," said William Bush.

The Montford Point Marines not only fought for the country's freedom overseas but for equality and civil rights for their families. In 2011 the Marines were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. Bush was able to attend the ceremony with his father and the rest of the living Marines.

"He said I never thought id live to see this day so that was a great moment for everybody. It was heartbreaking to see the ones that weren't there that never got a chance to see or get that award. There were a lot of elderly people there but they were in wheelchairs in their nineties of course so they weren't necessarily able to do a lot of things but he was able to walk up and be pinned on by the general which was great, " William Bush told NewsChannel 6.

In 2017 the Montford Point Memorial Project was completed to honor the lives of those who fought and died during World War II. The project is located within the Lejune Memoral Gardens in Jacksonville, NC.

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