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"I enlisted as E-1, which is the lowest rank in the military. I rose through the ranks over a period of 35 accountable years to the rank of commander. I made every rank from E-1 to 0-5. I didn't skip any." (Audio interview, 1:04)

   Ernest T. Maxey
Collection image
Retirement phortrait of Ernest Maxey [1983]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Coast Guard
Service Location: Atlantic Ocean
Rank: Commander
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In search of adventure, Ernest Maxey volunteered for the Coast Guard in1942. After finishing in the top 10 percent of his class in signalman school, he worked at a lighthouse, on a troop transport ship, and at the Seamen's Institute. Discharged in 1945, he returned to the Coast Guard Reserves in 1950, and moved up through the ranks until he was promoted to commander before his retirement in 1983. Maxey faced continuous discrimination throughout his career; based on his experiences, the Coast Guard reviewed and changed several of its civil rights policies. After his retirement from the Coast Guard Reserve, Maxey broke another barrier by becoming the first African-American detective for the Chicago Hyde Park Police department.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (21 min.)
»Photo Album  (1 photo)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Assignments before he went to sea; facing racial discrimination and racist policies; pursuing higher ratings; serving on a troop transport ship. (03:49) Thoughts upon his retirement; articulating the hardships he faced during his career. (01:10) Retirement from his job as a supervising auditor (02:07)

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  October 26, 2011
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