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Gen. Michael Langley becomes Marine Corps first Black four-star

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley was promoted to the rank of general on Aug. 6, 2022, in a ceremony at Marine Corps Barracks Washington, D.C.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger promoted Langley, who became the first Black Marine to be promoted to general.

Marine Corps photograph by Sgt. Karis Mattingly
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley’s mother and father wait for their son’s promotion ceremony to begin at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2022. Gen. Langley, who began his career in the Marine Corps as an artillery officer in 1985, is the first Black Marine to be promoted to the rank of General.

“Forty-three years we go from our first African American general to now our first – I think leading to many more – four-star African American generals,” said Berger, paying homage to Lt. Gen. Frank E. Peterson.

Marine Corps photograph by Sgt. Karis Mattingly
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley is promoted by his family during a ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2022. Gen. Langley, who began his career in the Marine Corps as an artillery officer in 1985, is the first Black Marine to be promoted to the rank of general.

Langley was joined by friends and family at the ceremony, including his father Willie C. Langley, who is a proud Air Force veteran. Gen. Langley repeatedly talked about his father as his greatest mentor.

“My daddy told me to aim high, so I aimed as high as I could and found the few and the proud,” said Langley, a comment which was met with laughter amongst the crowd, most of whom were Marines.

Marine Corps photograph by Sgt. Karis Mattingly
After pinning a hat with the general rank insignia, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley presents it to his father, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Willie C. Langley, during a promotion ceremony at the Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2022. Gen. Langley, who began his career in the Marine Corps as an artillery officer in 1985, is the first Black Marine to be promoted to the rank of general.

Langley was born in Shreveport, La., and grew up on a variety of military bases as a child before settling in Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1985. Langley has served in the Marine Corps for 37 years and saw his promotion as a sign to others that Marine Corps service rewards those who work hard to achieve their goals.

“The milestone and what it means to the Corps is quite essential. Not because of the mark in history, but what it will affect going forward, especially for those younger across society that want to aspire and look at the Marine Corps as an opportunity,” said Langley.

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