Two of the first Black men to serve in the Marine Corps, including one who later became a brigadier general in the Army, were laid to rest in early February.

Albert Bryant Sr., 97, died June 25, 2023, and was buried Feb. 5 at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a Marine Corps news release.

John Henry Chaney, 104, died Jan. 22 and was buried Feb. 8 next to his wife at John Wesley United Methodist Church Cemetery in Clarksburg, Maryland, according to the release.

Both men were drafted into the Marine Corps in 1943 and trained at Montford Point, North Carolina — the segregated post where Black recruits received training while enduring harsh conditions.

Between 1942 and 1949, following orders from President Franklin Roosevelt to open all the military branches to all men regardless of race, approximately 20,000 Black men trained at that post.

“It was rough in those days,” Chaney told The Washington Post in 2012 of his training. “But we seen it through.”

Almost 13,000 Montford Point Marines served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, according to the news release. Both Bryant and Chaney fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima and saw the iconic raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi.

Bryant became a pharmacist after the war and served in the Army Reserve, eventually becoming a brigadier general, the highest rank attained by a Montford Point Marine, according to the release. He later became the chief of drugs and pharmaceuticals for the Veterans Administration, The Washington Post reported in a 2020 profile of the veteran.

Marine Brig. Gen. Melvin Carter, the deputy chief of computer network operations at the National Security Agency, said Montford Point Marines’ service made his own service possible, according to the Marine news release.

“Without [Bryant’s] service, I could never have become a General,” said Carter, who attended Bryant’s funeral.

After the war, Chaney became a bricklayer and then worked at Maryland’s State Highway Administration while running a business, Chaney and Sons Refuse Trash Company.

In June 2012, Bryant, Chaney and more than 300 other Montford Point Marines received bronze replica Congressional Gold Medals for their service.

Bryant is survived by his wife of 75 years, five children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild, according to the news release. Chaney is survived by his sister, 12 children, 35 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.

“He was so proud of his service,” said Mary Chaney, John Henry Chaney’s daughter, according to the Marine news release. “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.”

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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