Retired Marine a great example of the motto ‘Semper Fidelis’


Retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Long shows off shoes he has been given by local kids.

Elka Wyatt, Reporter

Retired Master Gunnery Sergeant M.C. Long exemplifies the motto of the United States Marine Corps, “Semper Fidelis.”

Adopted by the Marine Corps in 1883, the Latin phrase means “always faithful.”

Long, 86, of Bakersfield, is very proud of his 31-year career in the Marine Corps. Born April 21, 1928 in Bessemer, Alabama, Long enlisted in the Marine Corps as a 16-year old in 1944, two years after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established a directive to allow African-Americans to enlist in the military.

“I received basic training at Montford Point Camp at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. It was where they sent the Negroes during the years of segregation,” said Long.

Indeed, Montford Point Camp was a facility at Camp LeJeune where, according to the Montford Point Marine Association’s website, approximately 20,000 African-American recruits received basic training during World War II, from 1942 until 1949 when President Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the Armed Forces.

According to the website, in July 1949, there were 1,525 (1.6% of the corps) enlisted African-American men in the Marine Corps. Long was among these men.

Long’s Military Occupational Specialty was as a fighter pilot. He fought in three wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In 1944 he fought in the month-long battle to liberate Guam from Japanese forces.

“We were taught to kill or be killed for the safety of the country,” said Long. “I was fortunate to never have been wounded.”

Perris Island, San Diego, Okinawa, Bakersfield, and Korea are among places Long was stationed.

Long retired from the Marine Corps in 1975 as a Master Gunnery Sergeant, which is the highest enlisted rank available to Marines. Master Gunnery Sergeants serve as technical experts in their Military Occupational Specialty, and offer leadership in their field to other Marines.

Long’s son was also a Marine while his grandson was in the Army.

Long was married once in 1948 and was married to his second wife, Charlotte from 1958 until her death in 1995. They have four daughters who live in Northern California and a son in North Carolina.

Living in Bakersfield since he retired, Long has been instrumental in the implementation of several programs for youth, including the Marine’s Toys for Tots.

He considers this his most important work.

Long receives hot lunches from Kern County Aging and Adult Services’ Senior Nutrition Program. He sets the trays outside in his yard to show his appreciation for the meals. Sometimes they give him rides to the doctor, since he can no longer drive.

Anyone driving down Belle Terrace can catch Long standing in his yard saluting cars as they drive by. And if you stop and ask, he will also take you on a tour of his makeshift museum, which consists of his extensive and impressive military career.