Before 1942 no African-Americans had been officially accepted into the U.S. Marine Corps. This changed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s presidential directive that gave African-Americans a chance to volunteer for the Marine Corps. However, these recruits were not allowed to go to the traditional Marine boot camps of Parris Island, S.C. and San Diego, Calif., but were segregated at a separate facility, Montford Point, which was part of the larger Camp Lejeune, N.C. Many of the Montford Point Marines, as they became known, went on to render distinguished service in the Pacific Theater during World War II by performing a wide variety of assignments. Their valiant service broke down barriers in the Marine Corps, and helped lead to President Harry S Truman‘s decision to desegregate the U.S. military with the issuing of Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. Today, the Montford Point Marine Association keeps alive the legacy of these Marines and ensures they won’t be forgotten by history.
Montford Point Marines | Photos
New recruits lineup to begin the journey to become Montford Point Marines, Montford Point, New River, N.C., ca. April 1943. U.S. Marine Corps photo Sgt. Gilbert H. “Hashmark” Johnson, acting field sergeant major, recruit depot battalion, Montford Point Camp, surveys a platoon of recruits, ca. April 1943. U.S. Marine Corps photo A recruit platoon of Montford Point Marines stand at attention, Montford Point, New River, N.C., ca. April 1943. U.S. Marine Corps photo Montford Point Marines receive training on a 90 mm gun. Montford Point, New River, N.C., ca. April 1943. U.S. Marine Corps photo Cpl. Mortimer Augusta Cox inspects the rifle of a recruit, Montford Point, New River, N.C., ca. April 1943. U.S. Marine Corps photo A trio of recruits in training to take their places as fighting Leathernecks in the U.S. Marine Corps, run the rugged obstacle course at Montford Point, New River, N.C. The Montford Point Marines showed such excellent results in their aptitudes and leadership capacities that an expanded Navy recruiting program was initiated. U.S. Marines Corps photo Under the direction of swimming instructor Marine Pfc. Paul Tolliver, Leathernecks train at Montford Point, New River, N.C., ca. Nov. 1944. Over 20,000 African-American recruits came through Montford Point during World War II. U.S. Marine Corps photo A group of African-American Marines in their dress uniforms, May 1943. Although a dress uniform was not a part of the regular equipment, most of the Montford Point Marines spent $54 out of their pay for what was generally considered the snappiest uniform in the armed services. Photo by Roger Smith Two recruits in a light tank during training in mechanized warfare at Montford Point, New River, N.C., ca. April 1943. Photo by Pat Terry Marines carry a Japanese prisoner from the stockade to be evacuated and treated for malnutrition on Iwo Jima, Feb. 23, 1945. Although comprising only 10 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, Montford Point Marines could be found on many battlefields of the Pacific Theater performing vital missions. National Archives photo Two DUKW drivers become riflemen after their vehicle is destroyed on Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 1945. Even though African-American Marines were mostly confined to rear echelon units, these lines tended to blur when under fire. U.S. Marine Corps photo Marines move through the trenches on the beach during the Battle of Peleliu, Sept. 15, 1944. On Peleliu, African-American Marines from service units volunteered for combat due to extremely high casualties in other Marine units. U.S. Marine Corps photo African-American Marines, attached to the 3rd Ammunition Company, take a rest from resupplying ammunition to the front line on Saipan. Despite being mostly confined to rear echelon units, Montford Point Marines proved their bravery on Saipan. Riding a captured bicycle is Pfc. Horace Boykin while (left to right) Cpl. Willis T. Anthony, Pfc. Emmitt Shackelford and Pfc. Eugene Purdy watch, ca. June 1944. U.S. Marine Corps photo African-American assault troops await orders on D-day to attack the enemy shortly after they had come ashore at Saipan in the Marianas, ca. June 1944. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Marine Tech. Sgt. William Fitch Surrounded by a veteran crew of Marines who have spent 15 months in the southwest and central Pacific, this gun, named "Lena Horne" by its crew, points skyward. The gun is manned by members of the 51st Defense Battalion, one of two such African-American units in the Marine Corps during World War II. U.S. Marine Corps photo