August 26, 1942
The first African American Marine recruits arrived for basic training on August 26, 1942. Although, unlike white recruits who trained at Parris Island or San Diego, Black recruits were sent to a segregated training facility named Montford Point. Montford Point was located adjacent to Camp Lejeune. But, when compared to Camp Lejeune, the conditions at Montford Point were far from ideal. Additionally, Montford Point Marines continued to endure racism, not even being allowed to enter Camp Lejeune without being accompanied by a white Marine. Despite the obstacles, African American men continued to voluntarily join the Marine Corps. Montford Point Marines were trained for anti-aircraft defense battalions, as well as supply and logistical roles. The first black unit to deploy overseas, the 1st Depot Company, left Montford Point on April 16, 1943. By the end of WWII, approximately 13,000 Montford Point Marines were deployed overseas, many seeing action at Saipan, Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. After the war, Montford Point continued to operate, with more than 20,000 Black Marines receiving training at the camp. Ultimately, in response to Executive Order No. 9981 signed by President Truman, all branches of the military were desegregated and Montford Point was decommissioned on September 9, 1949. In 1974, Montford Point was re-named Camp Johnson and today serves as the home of the Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools.
By: Melton A. McLaurin