"Nothing gets me down:" One of the first Black Marines reflects on his service

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Arthur Jackson was 19-years-old when joined the Marines and left Houston for Montford Point, North Carolina.

He was among the first African-American members of the Marine Corps, a group that has become known as "The Montford Point Marines."

"I felt I had a duty to perform, and that's what I did," said Jackson, who is now 98 years old.

African-American men weren't permitted to serve in the Marines until a 1941 executive order was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Black Marines started training in North Carolina less than a year later, but were segregated from their white counterparts.

"Nothing gets me down," said Jackson. "And I think it's because of what I went through in the Marine Corps."

Jackson spent three years in the Marines, including a stint in Japan during World War II.

"It was really to serve my country," Jackson explained. "I wasn't afraid of anything."

Jackson's ability to overcome discrimination, segregation, and more isn't lost on his family.

"My father has always been a very strong man," said Elder Charles Jackson, Arthur's son. "He was a stepping stone for others to follow after him."

Jackson married his wife, Horese, before leaving for the Marines, and the couple went on to have five children. Mrs. Jackson passed away in 2011, but their family legacy is one of strength, God, and hard work.

"My father has never said a cuss word in his life," said son Dwayne Jackson. "I've never seen him mad."

Arthur turns 99 in July, and says his secret to staying young is his current girlfriend, Hilda Wilson. The couple has known each other for years, but didn't start dating until 2018.

"She inspires me," said Jackson. "She really does."
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