Henry H. Black

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Henry H. Black
Black HH.jpg
7th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (1975-1977)
Born(1929-02-09)February 9, 1929
Imperial, Pennsylvania
DiedAugust 24, 2012(2012-08-24) (aged 83)
Fredericksburg, VA
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchSeal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service1948-1977
RankSergeant Major
Commands heldSergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Battles/warsKorean War
Vietnam War
AwardsSilver Star
Bronze Star (3)
Purple Heart

Sergeant Major Henry H. Black (9 February 1929 – 24 August 2012), USMC retired, was the seventh Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (1975–1977).


Henry Black was born in Imperial, Pennsylvania, on February 9, 1929. A high school graduate of Findley High School in 1947, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on April 12, 1948 and underwent recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina after completing boot camp and served with Company C, 1st Battalion 8th Marines, and later, with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion 6th Marines.

Ordered to Korea in 1950, Black joined Company H, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division as the commanding officer's driver. As a private first class, he was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for heroic actions at the Chosin Reservoir. His brother, Albert H. Black, also served in this campaign with him.

He returned to the States in May 1951, and was assigned a member of the security force at Marine Barracks, Dahlgren, Virginia. He completed Recruiters School at Parris Island in July 1953, and was assigned as the Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge, Recruiting Substation, Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Black served as a Platoon Commander of a heavy machine gun platoon with 1st Battalion 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division in the Western Pacific area from August 1956 to November 1957 when he was ordered to Parris Island to attend Drill Instructor School. Upon completion of the course, he served consecutively as a junior drill instructor, a senior drill instructor, and finally, as a chief drill instructor in the Recruit Training Regiment.

In August 1960 he was transferred to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he served as Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of the Recruiting Substation for the next four years. He served as a Company First Sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division from August 1964 to November 1965, and landed with the Marines sent to the Dominican Republic during that period.

Ordered to South Vietnam in January 1966, Sergeant Major Black served as First Sergeant of Company A, 1st Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division until February 1967. He was then assigned as First Sergeant of Casual Company, and later, as Sergeant Major, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Development and Education Command, Quantico.

Sergeant Major Black began his second Vietnam tour in June 1969, serving as Sergeant Major of the 2nd Battalion 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was awarded his second and third Bronze Star Medals during his tour.

Returning to the States in April 1970, he was assigned as Sergeant Major of the Recruiting Station in Richmond, Virginia. He remained in that billet until August 1972, when he was transferred to Bremerton, Washington, as Sergeant Major of the Marine Barracks there.

Sergeant Major Black was ordered to Iwakuni, Japan, in November 1973, as Sergeant Major of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing until November 1974, when he returned to the Marine Corps Development and Education Command as Sergeant Major of that command until his selection as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. Black assumed the post of 7th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on June 1, 1975.

Black with Sgt Major Carlton W Kent in 2009

He died at his home in Fredericksburg, Virginia on August 24, 2012.[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

His military decorations include:[2][3]

Gold star
Gold 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
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Silver Star Legion of Merit Bronze Star w/ valor device & 2 award stars
2nd Row Purple Heart Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 3 service stars
3rd Row Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 7 service stars Navy Occupation Service Medal National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Korean Service Medal w/ 4 service stars
4th Row Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal w/ 4 service stars Korean Presidential Unit Citation Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation
5th Row Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal Korean War Service Medal

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Black dies at 83". marines.mil. 28 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  2. ^ Chapin, John (1993). Uncommen Men - The Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps (1 ed.). Shippensburg, Pennsylvania 17257-0152 USA: Burd Street Press. p. 338. ISBN 0-942597-45-1.
  3. ^ "Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal". Air Force's Personnel Center. U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
Military offices
Preceded by
Clinton A. Puckett
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
John R. Massaro