MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, GA --
When Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany leaders noticed that Henry Jackson, a local Montford Point Marine, hadn’t been attending any events or making his routine visits, they became concerned and decided to pay him a visit, April 17.
Jackson’s daughter, Brenda Jackson, was contacted and a surprise visit was planned with the help of Sgt.Maj. Johnny Higdon, sergeant major, MCLB Albany.
“Since you don’t get to the base anymore, we decided to bring part of the base to you,” Higdon said. “We wanted to show our appreciation to you and this visit is our way of saying thank you and to make sure you are doing ok. You can add this framed photo to all of your other items on your wall.”
Col. Alphonso Trimble, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, accompanied the Marines on the visit and said to Jackson upon entering his residence, “We just came to say thank you. Thank you time and time again. I wanted to keep my word and come to see about you. Thank you for leading the way.”
Trimble noted the “Once a Marine, always a Marine” concept goes from boot camp to grave and Marines are committed to that. The fact that we had Marines like him to lay that foundation is always great and to go back and pay homage to guys like him, especially while they are still (in our presence) is just a commitment to that sense of honor, duty, courage and commitment.
“It is part of our esprit de corps,” he continued. “Going to see Mr. Jackson was special because he had paved the way for so many African-Americans. It was really great to go into his home and see some of his medals, pictures, hear some of his stories and to share that with some of the younger Marines. The opportunity just to see that senior Marine and a junior Marine interact was (very) touching. His family knew they could always count on the Marine Corps if there was ever an issue.
Sgt. Wade Fearing, barracks manager, MCLB Albany, said the visit was something he’s never experienced before. “I had no idea that one human being could do so many things in such a short span (of time). This was a lifetime of work that created a legacy,” he said.
Fearing added, “It makes me think of (trying to) replicate what he’s done. He gave me an extra push to go out there and conquer the world. I’m really at a loss for words to explain what this means. I’ve never seen anything like it. This was an eye-opener, brain-opener and a heart-opener. This changes how I see the world now, it is from a totally different point of view.
Jackson, an Albany, Ga., resident, is living history. He is a WWII veteran and retired Air Force master sergeant who will be 90 years old in June. Joining the Marine Corps at age 17, he proudly shares his time as part of Marine Corps history as one of the first African American Marines to attend recruit training at Montford Point, North Carolina in 1947.
Before 1942, African-Americans were not allowed to join the Marine Corps, so President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the ranks for them and Jackson was among the first 20,000 to do so. In 2012, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law, honoring the contributions of Jackson and other African-American Montford Point Marines. This recognition awarded Congressional Gold Medals during a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C., on June 27, 2012.
Jackson said he is proud of his family’s legacy of service. Several of his children and grandchildren have served their country or are still on active-duty. His daughter, Brenda, said the Marines gave her dad his motivation back.
“I’m going to get better and come back to visit all of you and drive myself,” he said. “I (may have) retired from the Air Force, but I’m still a Marine and I miss you all. See that tag on the front of my car. (It does read) Once a Marine, always a Marine.”