MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO --
On the 65th anniversary of executive order which established equality and ended segregation in the armed services, Weapons Training Battalion and The Basic School’s Marines stepped up to the challenge of competing in the, 7-mile, 2013 Inaugural Montford Point Marine Memorial Biathlon held Camp Barrett and WTBn’s Range 4 aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on July 26.
“This biathlon is dedicated to the African American Marines who were trained at Montford Point from 1942 until 1949 when the Marine Corps began its initiative for complete racial integration,” said Col. Todd Desgrosseilliers, commanding officer, TBS. “This race is dedicated to the African American Marines who were trained at Montford Point from 1942 until 1949 when the Marine Corps began its initiative for complete racial integration.”
After the opening remarks from Desgrosseilliers, a safety brief from Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mario Heikell, TBS’s ordnance officer, and the firing of a 105mm Howitzer, the biathlon began.
More than 50 Marines, in teams of four, endured the biathlon’s three challenging sections. After running nearly three miles with their rifles starting from TBS’s Camp Barrett, the Marines shot 20 rounds each at WTBn’s Range 4 targets. With every missed shot, minutes were added to a team’s overall time. After shooting, the Marines ran back through the trails toward the finish line.
As the Marines were going through the course, Montford Point Marine Association personell and two original Montford Point Marines arrived. Within minutes of arriving, the Montford Point Marines were being presented information about how the Corps has changed as well as giving the Marines of today their insight on the past.
“Events like this make you proud to be Marine,” said Stanley Tapscott, 87, a 1944 Montford Point Marine. “I’m delighted to be here, but when I first started in the Corps that was a different story. Blacks weren’t really welcome and I’m so proud to have made it through those rough times and helped pave the way for the future.”
After the last team crossed the finish line, there was an award ceremony to recognize the fastest team, the fastest Marine and the Marine with the best shots.
“Even though it was a difficult course, it was a great run,” said Cpl. Kevin Simek, the first Marine to cross the finish line. “We paced ourselves in the beginning of the run. At the range we took our time and on our way back we gave it everything we had left in the tank and even with a couple of scrapes or bruises along the way, we never gave up.”