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The Few, The Proud, The Marines Forum

Mark Shields, USMC. . .

Posted By: LongGone
Date: Monday - February 4,2013 17:28

LAMB: You served in Marine Corps for how long?

SHIELDS: Two years.

LAMB: Why?

SHIELDS: I was going to be drafted, I mean I was facing a draft and to be in the Marines rather than in the Army.

LAMB: What year?

SHIELDS: 1960 to 1962.

LAMB: What impact did serving in the Marines have on you?

SHIELDS: The Marine did a lot more for me than I did for the Marine Corps. I think Marine Corps values are admirable and they are incredibly egalitarian, even though Iíd been to college and -- but I came from -- I guess you could say not a cloistered background but I mean one that was not as wide ranging and itís probably ethnic and racial exposure the first time I ever slept in the same quarters with African Americans, or took orders as a regular course from African Americans, was at Parris Island, South Carolina, Marine Corps boot camp.

And the only reason I did that was because of a president of the United States named Harry Truman, who said in the final analysis it was unacceptable and literally un-American to ask people to fight and die for their country and then be segregated by race. I mean we had four, five, six college graduates in our platoon, we had kids who were high school dropouts, we had kids who were given the option by a judge, you can go there or you can go to juvenile detention.

I mean it was a remarkable experience and everybody was the same you came out of it with the sense of mutual responsibility that I depended upon other people and they depended on me.

LAMB: What was your highest rank?

SHIELDS: Lance Corporal.

LAMB: So you never wanted to be an officer?

SHIELDS: I didnít, no. They offered -- they did approach me at one point about whether I was interested in it but I was interested quite honestly in serving and fulfilling my responsibility and returning to civilian life.

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