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The Reverend Archibald Mosley wanted to be a preacher ever since he was a child growing up in Carbondale during the Great Depression, but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed his plans, as it did for millions of other Americans. But what makes his story special is that Rev. Mosley became one of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. Mosley and 20,000 other African American Marines were trained in segregated facilities at Montford Point, North Carolina from 1942-1949 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the Marine Corps' status as a whites-only branch of the armed services.
In an interview with WSIU's Jak Tichenor, Mosley describes his experiences during the invasion of Iwo Jima where black Marines were tasked with unloading supplies under heavy fire from the island's Japanese defenders and later guarded ammunition dumps on the beaches. "The water was stained red with blood," Mosley said of the horrific casualties suffered by his comrades as they drove their heavily loaded landing craft onto the beaches. The landing craft were packed with ammunition and fuel for the flamethrowers the Marines used to rout Japanese troops that were hidden in the island's many caves and bunkers. "If any of our ships were hit by mortar fire, I knew not to even try to look for my friend's bodies because there would be nothing left of them," Mosley said.
After the war, Rev. Mosley realized his dream of becoming a minister and made his home in Pontiac, Michigan. He still maintains his Carbondale connections through his daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Lewin, who served as superintendent of Carbondale Elementary School District 95 before her retirement.
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