Veterans History Project Service Summary:

  • War or Conflict: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
  • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
  • Unit of Service: Marine Security Guard Detachment Command, US Embassy Kathmandu; 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Company G, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division; 6th Marine Division; 1st Combat Service Group; Marine Security Detachment, Fort Mifflin Naval Ammunition Storage Depot; 5th Marine Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; Marine Security Guard Detachment Command, US Embassy New Delhi
  • Location of Service: Montford Point Camp, North Carolina; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands); Pacific Theater; Japan; China; Camp Pendleton, California; Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania; Inchon, Korea; Seoul, Korea; Chosin Reservoir, Korea; Pennsylvania; Colorado; Camp Pendleton, California; San Diego, California; Southeast Asia; Washington, DC; New Delhi, India; Kathmandu, Nepal; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Caribbean Sea; Central America; South America; Firebase Gio Linh, Vietnam; Da Nang, Vietnam
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant; First Sergeant

View full service history

“Race didn’t have a [darn] thing to do with it.” (Video interview, 1:07:32)

The son of a baker who had served with the famed “Harlem Hellfighters” regiment during World War I, William McDowell volunteered to join the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen. Like many African Americans who had grown up in the north, basic training in the south meant indoctrination into life under Jim Crow as well as the military. After training at Montford Point, North Carolina--the segregated Marine training facility adjacent to Camp Lejeune--he served three weeks on Okinawa before the end of the war was declared. In 1948, McDowell was handpicked to be part of a small group of Marines to integrate Camp Pendleton, California--though he was transferred back to an all-black unit shortly after. He saw intense combat during both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and emphasizes in his oral history interview that within integrated units that he served in and commanded, dedication to the unit overcame differences in race.

More Resources

[ Citation for service and award of the Bronze Star ]
[ Biographical information ]

About this Item

Title

  • William McDowell Collection

Names

  • McDowell, William
  • Farrar, Mike
  • Wendel, Phillip
  • American Red Cross, Greater Long Beach Chapter

State of Birth

  • NJ

Home State

  • CA

Headings

  • -  McDowell, William
  • -  World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Marine Corps.
  • -  Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Marine Corps.
  • -  Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Marine Corps.

Repository

  • Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Gender

  • Male

Race

  • Black or African American

Status

  • Veteran

Service History

  • World War, 1939-1945

    • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
    • Unit of Service: 6th Marine Division; 1st Combat Service Group; Marine Security Detachment, Fort Mifflin Naval Ammunition Storage Depot
    • Location of Service: Montford Point Camp, North Carolina; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands); Pacific Theater; Japan; China; Camp Pendleton, California; Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania
    • Dates of Service: 1945-1968
    • Prisoner of War: No
    • Entrance into Service: Enlisted
    • Military Status: Veteran
  • Korean War, 1950-1953

    • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
    • Unit of Service: 5th Marine Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; Marine Security Guard Detachment Command, US Embassy New Delhi
    • Location of Service: Inchon, Korea; Seoul, Korea; Chosin Reservoir, Korea; Pennsylvania; Colorado; Camp Pendleton, California; San Diego, California; Southeast Asia; Washington, DC; New Delhi, India
    • Highest Rank: Sergeant
    • Prisoner of War: No
    • Entrance into Service: Enlisted
    • Military Status: Veteran
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

    • Branch of Service: Marine Corps
    • Unit of Service: Marine Security Guard Detachment Command, US Embassy Kathmandu; 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Company G, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division
    • Location of Service: Kathmandu, Nepal; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Caribbean Sea; Central America; South America; Firebase Gio Linh, Vietnam; Da Nang, Vietnam
    • Highest Rank: First Sergeant
    • Prisoner of War: No
    • Entrance into Service: Enlisted
    • Military Status: Veteran

Materials

  • Video: DVD [1 item] -- Oral history interview (collected 03/04/2015)
  • Video: DVD [1 item] -- Reference copy (collected 03/04/2015)
  • Manuscript: Clippings [2 items] -- Typewritten document (collected 2005 - 2012)
  • Manuscript: Military papers (orders, personnel/201 files, etc) [1 item] -- Typewritten document (collected 1967)
  • Manuscript: Printed matter [1 item] -- Typewritten document (collected 02/27/2015)
  • Photograph: Original photographic print [1 item] -- Portrait (collected 2002)
  • Manuscript: Biographical information [1 item] -- Typewritten document (collected unknown)

Collection Number

  • AFC/2001/001/100527

Cite as

  • William McDowell Collection (AFC/2001/001/100527), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Online Format

  • image
  • video

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

Using VHP Material in Publication or Exhibition

The Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress collects, preserves and makes accessible the firsthand recollections of U.S. military veterans who served from World War I through more recent conflicts and peacekeeping missions, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand what they saw, did and felt during their service. The Veterans History Project Collection includes oral histories along with documentary materials such as original letters, diaries, photographs, and memoirs.

Veterans and interviewers contribute these materials to the Library for scholarly and educational purposes, retaining any copyright they may hold. Therefore, permission must be obtained before using the interview or other materials in exhibition or publication. Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these materials should contact the Veterans History Project for assistance.

As a publicly supported institution, the Library generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item from the Library’s collections and for securing any necessary permissions rests with persons desiring to use the item.

Please contact us with questions.

Obtaining Copies of VHP Materials

In order for VHP materials to be duplicated, we must receive written permission from the interviewee for you to obtain a copy of the recording unless the proposed use is limited to personal use, research, or other uses permissible by copyright law. If the interviewee is deceased, their next-of-kin may grant written permission.

Please contact VHP for assistance if you need to contact a veteran for permission to use their materials in exhibition or publication, or if you have received permission from the veteran and need access to high-resolution copies of VHP collection materials.

Citing VHP Materials

Please use the following formats when citing Veterans History Project materials (substituting the appropriate name and collection ID number).

Materials as a whole:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Manuscript material:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Memoirs (MS02), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Transcript (MS04), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Correspondence (MS01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Recording:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Audio recording (SR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Video recording (MV01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Photograph:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Photographs (PH01), photographer unknown, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Photographs (PH03-PH14), Ralph Williams photographer, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Computer file:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Computer file (CF01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Artifact:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Artifact (AR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Mcdowell, William, Mike Farrar, Phillip Wendel, and Greater Long Beach Chapter American Red Cross. William McDowell Collection. 1945. Personal Narrative. https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.100527/.

APA citation style:

McDowell, W., Farrar, M., Wendel, P. & American Red Cross, G. L. B. C. (1945) William McDowell Collection. [Personal Narrative] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.100527/.

MLA citation style:

Mcdowell, William, et al. William McDowell Collection. 1945. Personal Narrative. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.100527/>.