On the mornings of February 5 and 8, 2024, two Montford Point Marines, Brig. Gen. Albert Bryant Sr. and Pfc. John Henry Chaney, were laid to rest. Bryant was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in plot 7-A alongside American legends such as Joe Louis and James Doolittle, while Chaney was buried next to his wife at John Wesley United Methodist Church Cemetery in Clarksburg, Maryland.
Bryant and Chaney were both drafted into the military in 1943, beginning their service at Montford Point in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Both men joined the ranks of the legendary Montford Point Marines, the first Black Americans to earn the title of United States Marine.
Between 1942 and 1949, 19,168 Black Marines trained at Montford Point, with almost 13,000 of those Marines going on to fight in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Companies of Montford Point Marines fought at Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Peleliu, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. The Montford Point Marines, in their very first battle, were so effective the then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Alexander Vandegrift stated: “The Negro Marines are no longer on trial. They are Marines, period”. Both Bryant and Chaney fought at the harrowing Battle of Iwo Jima and witnessed the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi.
“Without (Bryant’s) service, I could never have become a General.” Brig. Gen. Melvin Carter, the deputy chief of Computer Network Operations at the National Security Agency
After the war, Bryant attended Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, becoming a pharmacist. He continued his military service as an officer in the Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Brigadier General, the highest rank achieved by a Montford Point Marine.
After Chaney's return from the Pacific, he worked as a bricklayer until 1953, when he went to work at the State Highway Administration. Additionally, he started a business: Chaney and Sons Refuse Trash Company, which he ran until he sold the company in 1974. After selling his business and retiring from the State Highway Administration, Chaney spent his time playing basketball, being with his family, and devoting himself to his local church as an usher and choir member.
On June 28, 2012, Chaney, Bryant, and 366 former Montford Point Marines received the Congressional Gold Medal from members of congress and leaders of the Marine Corps.
Montford Point Marine, Iwo Jima Veteran laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph DeMarcus
Brigadier Gen. Melvin G. Carter, deputy chief, Computer Network Operations, National Security Agency, presents the U.S. flag to Mable Bryant following the funeral service for her husband, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Albert Bryant at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, Feb. 5, 2024. Bryant began his military career at Montford Point, North Carolina, and earned the title Marine in 1943. While in the Marine Corps, Bryant served in World War II, including the battle of Iwo Jima. Following his enlistment in the Marine Corps, Bryant continued his military service in the U.S. Army Reserve, rising to the rank of brigadier general, the highest rank achieved by a Montford Point Marine. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph E. DeMarcus)
Chaney and Bryant were laid to rest surrounded by hundreds of their family and friends, as well as active-duty and retired Marines. Brig. Gen. Melvin Carter, the deputy chief of Computer Network Operations at the National Security Agency, attended Bryant’s funeral and credited men like Bryant and Chaney for paving the way for all Black Americans to serve.
“Without (Bryant’s) service, I could never have become a General,” said Carter.
Bryant is survived by his wife of 75 years, his five children, and his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
104-year-old Montford Point Marine, WWII veteran laid to rest
Photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Dornfeld
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Deidra Freeman, an administrative chief with Inspector Instructor Frederick, presents the U.S. flag to Mary Chaney, the daughter of Pfc. John Henry Chaney, during his interment service at John Wesley United Methodist Church Cemetery in Clarksburg, Maryland, Feb. 8, 2024. Chaney was drafted in the Marine Corps in 1943, becoming one of the legendary Montford Point Marines, the first Black Americans to earn the title. Chaney served in World War II and fought at the harrowing Battle of Iwo Jima. In 2012, Chaney and other Montford Point Marines, were presented the Congressional Gold Medal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Dornfeld)
Chaney is survived by his sister, his 12 children, 35 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great-grandchildren.
“He was so proud of his service,” said Mary Chaney, daughter of John Henry Chaney. “He was so glad to have been in that situation because it helped him grow, and it helped him learn how to treat people despite how he was treated.”
The Montford Point Marines are honored and remembered for their part in desegregating the Marine Corps, for their courageous service during the Pacific Campaign, and their contributions to the furtherance of equality in all of American society.