Edgar Huff

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Edgar R. Huff
Huff ER USMC.jpg
Sergeant Major Edgar R. Huff, USMC
Born(1919-12-02)December 2, 1919
Gadsden, Alabama
DiedMay 2, 1994(1994-05-02) (aged 74)
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1942-1972
RankSergeant Major
Unit2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
AwardsBronze Star (2)
Purple Heart (3)

Edgar R. Huff (December 2, 1919 – May 2, 1994) was the first African-American in the United States Marine Corps to be promoted to the rank of sergeant major. He served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Marine Corps service[edit]

Huff, a native of Gadsden, Alabama, enlisted in the Marine Corps on September 24, 1942 as one of the first African-Americans to do so. Huff received his recruit training with the 51st Composite Defense Battalion, Montford Point Camp, New River, North Carolina. Following graduation, he joined the 155mm gun battery of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion and served as a gun commander.

In early 1943, he was assigned duty under instruction at drill instructors school, and upon completion of his course, was assigned duty as a drill instructor in March 1943. At that time, Montford Point Camp was the receiving point for all blacks entering the Marine Corps, and by November 1944, Huff had been assigned duty as field sergeant major of all recruit training at the Montford Point Camp.

In November 1944, he was promoted to first sergeant and assigned duty with the 5th Depot Company, departing for the Western Pacific area, serving as first sergeant with this unit on Saipan, Okinawa, and in North China. The 5th Depot Company furnished logistic support for Marine divisions in that area. Gilbert Johnson, the only other black sergeant major besides Huff to serve during World War II, was Huff's brother-in-law.[1] They were married to twin sisters.[2]

Following World War II, he served as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Recruit Training at Montford Point Camp until May 1949. He was then assigned duty as guard and infantry chief, Marine Barracks, Naval Ammunition Depot, Earle, New Jersey, until May 1951, at which time he assumed duty with the famed 1st Marine Division in Korea. There, he saw combat as a company gunnery sergeant with the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, and participated in operations in the "Punch Bowl" area, eastern front, and in the spring-summer offensive on the West Central front.

Upon his return to the United States in August 1952, he was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, serving as First Sergeant, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion 8th Marines. In March 1955, he was assigned duty as Guard Chief, Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station, Fort Lyautey, French Morocco.

Huff was promoted to first sergeant in the new rank structure on December 30, 1955, and to the rank of sergeant major the next day. From that date, he served at the following Marine Corps installations: Post Sergeant Major, Marine Barracks, Port Lyautey, French Morocco; with the 2nd Force Service Regiment; Landing Force Training Unit, Little Creek, Virginia; the 3rd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Okinawa; the 3rd Force Service Regiment; the 1st Infantry Training Regiment, Camp Geiger, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Base Sergeant Major, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California; the 1st Military Police Battalion, Force Logistic Command, and with the III Marine Amphibious Force, Republic of Vietnam (May 1967 - June 1968); and with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (July 1968 - October 1970).

Huff served a second tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam, as sergeant major with the III Marine Amphibious Force from October 1970 until October 1971. He then served as sergeant major of the Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, North Carolina, until his retirement on September 30, 1972.

Huff died on May 2, 1994 at Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.

He is featured in the book Bloods by Wallace Terry.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Huff's awards and decorations include:

Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Bronze Star w/ 1 award star & valor device Purple Heart w/ 2 award stars
2nd Row Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 2 award stars Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star
3rd Row Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 9 service stars China Service Medal American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 6 service stars
4th Row World War II Victory Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Korean Service Medal w/ 3 service stars
5th Row Vietnam Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Korean Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fitzpatrick, Sean (February 1999). "Breakthrough: Hashmark Johnson's iron leadership helped Marine Corps eliminate segregation". Pass in Review (PDF)|format= requires |url= (help). Reprinted in The Barstow Log[permanent dead link], 1 February 2001 p.4
  2. ^ Nalty, Bernard C. (1995). "Starting from Scratch: Two Who Succeeded". The Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II. Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. Retrieved December 14, 2008.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  • "History". Montford Point Marine Association. Archived from the original on 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2006-10-23.