Marine Cpl. Ambrose Anderson has been waiting on this moment for what feels like an eternity.
More than 70 years after he enlisted as part of the Montford Point Marines, the first Black Marines in U.S. history, he’s finally being honored with his dress blues.
Never once has the veteran donned the iconic uniform that so many before and after him have worn.
“I never had one,” Anderson said. “You had to buy your own.”
For the teenager that was sent from Gloversville to North Carolina, the price to buy a set of dress blues was out of reach. He may have been a part of history, and served a valuable role in Iwo Jima, but to Anderson, his service never felt complete without the blues.
“To a Marine, blues, there’s nothing like them; they’re the greatest,” Anderson said. “Until you see a Marine in blues, a Marine is a Marine.”
Anderson’s story reached Camp Lejeune, where leaders quickly reached out, vowing to send their fellow Marine a set of blues. Anderson always dreamed of having a set tailored, just like the best Marines, he says.
As the final alterations are made to his uniform, he sees a reflection of his younger self in the mirror. He says that reflection is smiling right now.
“He’d be proud of him. He’s be proud of him, that he hung in there, and he made it,” Anderson said.
Commemorating the Marine Corps’ 246th birthday this week, Anderson celebrates a personal achievement. It took him nearly eight decades, but standing proud in his dress blues, Anderson can say the moment was worth the wait.
“This uniform … I always wanted the blues. This made my day,” Anderson said. “This completes me being a real Marine. Now I’m a complete Marine.”
This story has been edited to correct the Marines' anniversary.