Military Voices Initiative Archives - StoryCorps

“We Knew We Were the Best.” Reflections from the First Black Marines of Montford Point

A group of Montford Point volunteers in their dress uniforms circa May, 1943. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1942, the U.S. allowed Black men to enlist in the Marine Corps for the first time. It was during World War II, and resulted in more than 19,000 Black recruits being sent to Montford Point, North Carolina for basic training.

These men fought for their country in the midst of the racism and prejudice they faced at home. They were essential to the war effort but did not recieve the same respect in uniform as their white counterparts. 

Many of those men are no longer with us, but their voices can be heard in the StoryCorps archive. One of those voices is that of Corporal Sidney Allen Francis,  a retired New York City police detective.  Sidney came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Candice, to talk about how his time at Montford Point shaped him.

William Pickens, Estel Roberts and Benjamin Jenkins at their StoryCorps interviews in Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York, and Dayton, Ohio in 2012, 2014, and 2010. By Leslee Dean, Mayra Sierra, and Virginia Lora for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired February 24, 2024, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

 

 

One Vietnam Veteran Recalls The Solemn Duty Of Notifying Families of Lost or Missing Loved Ones

In the 1960s Larry Candelaria went to college through an ROTC program. He graduated as a Commissioned Officer, and in 1970, he was deployed to Vietnam. Larry served as an administrator, and was eventually assigned to be the Chief of the Casualty Branch for the 23rd Infantry Division. 

Lieutenant Colonel Larry Candelaria at the 23rd Infantry Division base in Vietnam. Photo Courtesy of Larry Candelaria.

There, his job was to identify service members who were injured, captured, or killed in the line of duty. As soldiers returned or were lost in the field of battle his team was responsible for notifying families back home of the condition of their loved ones.

Larry came to StoryCorps as part of our Military Voices Initiative, to reflect on his time serving in Vietnam and its lasting impact on his life.

 

Top Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Larry Candelaria and his wife, Connie, at their StoryCorps interview in Las Cruces, New Mexico on March 12, 2020. By Zazil Davis-Vazquez for StoryCorps. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired May 27, 2023, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Even Though He Wasn’t A “Tough Guy,” This Purple Heart Vet Made His Mark In Vietnam

As a child, Richard Hoy dreamed of becoming a hero, like the ones he saw in Hollywood movies. Growing up sheltered from the outside world, he wanted a life of adventure. So when he was 18 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

By 19, he was serving as a medic in Vietnam, and what he encountered in the field challenged his notion of being a “hero.” 

Richard Hoy (left) at his new assignment after recovering from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, and a concussion by a grenade. He is applying a fresh dressing on a patient shot with an AK-47. Circa 1971, Fort Ord Hospital, CA. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.

One day, his unit surrounded a village in Vietnam, and Richard remembers seeing a North Vietnamese soldier staring at him 50 feet away. Presented with the opportunity to shoot, he didn’t. He questioned if he was cut out for war. 

Five decades later, he came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Angel Hoy, to share how being a medic on the front lines of war shaped him.

Originally aired March 5 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Top Photo: Richard and Angel Hoy in Seattle, WA on Feb. 22, 2022. Courtesy of Richard Hoy.

This interview was recorded in partnership with KUOW as part of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative.