OCEANSIDE — In honor of Black History Month, Camp Pendleton invited two active duty African-American Marines to share their experiences in serving our country.
Cpl. Marcus Mack, administration specialist, 21, has served in the Marine Corps for a year-and-a-half.
He was not expecting to be a Marine, but after a five-hour talk with a recruiter, he decided he needed to join.
Mack is from Maryland. He grew up with one brother and was raised by his mother, without knowing his father, who also served in the military.
He said he found family in fellow Marines, who are brothers and sisters he would lay down his life for, if needed.
“Anybody that’s wearing this uniform I would lay down on the ground for them, it’s a tight bond here,” Mack said.
Mack also has great respect for his commanding officers, which lead by example.
“The days I’m down, I imagine what my colonel would look like, it motivates me, (there) will be the day I give it (motivation) to him,” Mack said.
Mack sees himself fulfilling his role as a leader in the Marine Corps, and plans to work his way up the ranks to become a sergeant major.
He is thankful for African-American Marines who served before him, and the barriers they broke down.
“There was a point in time I couldn’t be in the Marine Corps,” Mack said. “If the Marines, back in the day, didn’t do what they did for us, I don’t know where I’d be.”
Mack will leave on his first deployment this year, and confesses he has never been on a boat, and hopes not to get seasick.
Sgt. Paris Capers, a mass communication specialist, 25, has served for seven years.
He said his job as a communication specialist is to “tell the Marine Corps story” through photos, videos and writing.
Capers was raised by his mother and father in Philadelphia, and remains close to his parents.
Like Mack he was introduced to the Marine Corps by a recruiter.
He described himself as an impatient, brash young man when he joined at age 18. He said the Marine Corps taught him patience, flexibility, professionalism, courtesy and life balance — lessons he shares with friends who did not join.
“My friends that went to college are just discovering who they are as people,” Capers said. “The last four years, have made me more settled, more set in who I am as a person.”
Capers thanked the 20,000 African-American Marines who trained at Montford Point Camp in North Carolina to serve in WWII, and the positive impact they made to help end segregation.
He added misconceptions continue to exist.
“As an African-American, sometimes people perceive me differently than I do myself.
As a Marine that already happens,” Capers said. “People don’t know what my job is, people don’t know what I do, and people don’t know what I stand for.”
Capers’ goal is to become a drill sergeant and teach young Marines the core values of honor, courage and commitment that have been taught to him.