Sergeant Major Edgar R. Huff, one of the first African-Americans to enlist in the Marine Corps in 1942, and the first African-American to be promoted to the rank of sergeant major, died 2 May 1994 at Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.
A native of Gadsden, Alabama, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, 24 September 1942, and received recruit training with the 51st Composite Defense Battalion, Montford Point Camp, New River, North Carolina. Following graduation, he joined the 155mm gun battery of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion and served with that unit as a gun commander.
In early 1943, he was assigned duty under instruction at drill instructors school, and upon completion of his course, was assigned duty as a drill instructor in March 1943. At that time, Montford Point Camp was the receiving point for all blacks entering the Marine Corps, and by November 1944, SgtMaj Huff had been assigned duty as field sergeant major of all recruit training at the Montford Point Camp.
In November 1944, he was promoted to first sergeant and assigned duty with the 5th Depot Company, departing for the Western Pacific area, serving as 1stSgt with this unit on Saipan, Okinawa, and in North China. The 5th Depot Company furnished logistic support for Marine divisions in that area.
Following World War II, he served as Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of Recruit Training at Montford Point Camp until May 1949. He was then assigned duty as guard and infantry chief, Marine Barracks, Naval Ammunition Depot, Earle, New Jersey, until May 1951, at which time he assumed duty with the famed 1st Marine Division in Korea. There, he saw combat as a company gunnery sergeant with the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, and participated in operations in the "Punch Bowl" area, eastern front, and in the spring-summer offensive on the West Central front.
Upon his return to the United States in August 1952, he was assigned to the 2d Marine Division, serving as First Sergeant, Weapons Company, 2d Battalion, 8th Marines. In March 1955, he was assigned duty as Guard Chief, Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station, Fort Lyautey, French Morocco.
Huff was promoted to first sergeant in the new rank structure, 30 December 1955, and to the rank of sergeant major a day later on 31 December. Since that date he served as Sergeant Major consecutively, at the following Marine Corps installations: Post Sergeant Major, Marine Barracks, Port Lyautey, French Morocco; with the 2d Force Service Regiment; Landing Force Training Unit, Little Creek, Virginia; the 3d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Okinawa; the 3d Force Service Regiment; the 1st Infantry Training Regiment, Camp Geiger, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Base Sergeant Major, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California; the 1st Military Police Battalion, Force Logistic Command and with the III Marine Amphibious Force, Republic of Vietnam (May 1967 - June 1968); and with the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (July 1968 - Oct 1970).
SgtMaj Huff served a second tour of duty in the Republic Vietnam, as Sergeant Major with the III Marine Amphibious Force from October 1970 until October 1971. He then served as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Air Station, New River, Jacksonville, North Carolina, until his retirement on 30 September 1972.
SgtMaj Huff's personal decorations include the Purple Heart (three awards), two awards of the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V," three awards of the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.