The Montford Point Marines Museum is housed on the hollow grounds of Montford Point Camp in the East Wing of building M101, Marine Corps Base, Camp Gilbert H. Johnson, Jacksonville, NC. The director of the Museums is Mr. Finney Greggs.
The museum is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00am to 2:00pm, 4:00pm to 7:00 pm. Saturday 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Call (910) 450-0191 to schedule viewing for groups. Staff on call for out of town visitors
The Montford Point Marine Museum was established to preserve the legacy of the Montford Point Marines. To collect, record, preserve and display, in a museum setting for public education and viewing, the largest collection of photographs, documents, papers, and artifacts, forever capturing the unique history of African American Marines from 1942 to 1949, this is our primary mission.
In additional to the museum primary mission, the role of the museum is to display memories of the past and show the public how significant those experiences have influenced events of today, for the next generation.
The acquisition committee of Montford Point Museum is currently seeking material for future displays. The first phase of the program is to seek specific material from WWII era Montford Point Marines and their families. Items include but are not limited to: photographs, diaries, personal and military objects, and other materials that reflect the lives, actions, and memories of original Montford Point Marines. Only items that spanned the specific years of c.1942-1949 are needed for phase one.
If you have material that is needed for phase one there are two ways of contributing those items. The first way is as a permanent gift, and the second way is as a short term or long term loan. In all cases material will be handled with care, protection, and above all else with respect. Items gathered during these drives will be used by the museum and will be made available to historians, researchers, and the general public for the advancement of historical preservation and awareness.
The Marines of Montford Point entered through its main gate as mere men of color, who had pride, courage and dedication. During the 1940s these men traveled a road that was not paved. They graduated to become Marines and brought the American people and the U.S. Marine Corps into a new era. Today many of the Marines who traveled through this groundbreaking period of American and Marine Corps history have contributed their life's successes to the pain, sacrifices, and rewards that were earned at Montford Point.
The first African-Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps
The black Marines were segregated at Montford Point Camp
The men served in all-black units, mostly in the
Pacific Theater, and distinguished themselves while battling racism from within and enemies from without.
the Montford Point Marine Association, a military service group, was founded following a convention of former Montford Point Marines.
The integration of the American military
was a long process that started in 1941 with an executive orderby President Roosevelt that was intended to create fair employment practices in the United States Armed Forces.
In 1942, Montford Point Camp was established
so that African-American Marine recruits could train. 20,000 men trained at the camp, but the Montford Point Marines were not allowed into neighboring all-white camps without being accompanied by a white Marine.
In 1949, President Truman signed
another executive order to force full integration of the United States: in the same year, the first African-American woman, Annie Graham, enlisted in the Marines.
The Montford Point Marines are often hailed
as important figures in American history, because they willingly fought to protect a nation that still did not offer them basic civil rights. Today, African-Americans make up approximately 20% of the United States Armed Forces.
In 1965, a reunion of Marines was held in Philadelphia
which included former Montford Point Marines along with Marines on active duty. Over 400 men showed from from all over the country, and they decided to establish the Montford Point Marine Association.
The Montford Point Marine Association maintains a
National Museum and archives pertaining to the Montford Point Marines, and also works to build ties of friendship in the communities in which it is active. A convention is held annually to celebrate the Montford Point Marines, make organizational decisions, and distribute scholarships.
James E. "Jimmy" Stewart, Sr., president of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, NAACP was responsible for Alfred Masters the first black sworn in the USMC
Stewart himself eventually enlisted shortly after. James Stewart (1912-1997), born on September 6, 1912, in Plano, Texas, served as a leader in the Oklahoma City Civil Rights Movement. His influence also helped shape state and national struggles for minorities. From 1916 until 1928, his family lived in Oklahoma City, where he attended Douglass High School. In 1930 he graduated from a school in Wichita, Kansas, and then entered the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (later Langston University). Stewart wrote the column "Jimmy Says," A newspaper, commenting on the activities of Oklahoma City's African American community. In 1937 the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company hired Stewart as janitor, and by 1940 he managed the eastside office. He volunteered for the U.S. Marines during World War II. After the war he continued to work for ONG, attaining a vice president position in 1976. He retired from the company in 1977. Stewart died on April 13, 1997.
Howard Perry first marine in camp On August 26th,1942
of Charlotte, NC, was the first black recruit to arrive at Montford Point Camp. H&S Battery of 51st Composite Defense Bn.
Ivan R. Elmore 1944 Band leader
of Washington, D.C., appointed Camp Band Drum Major and Bandmaster of the Montford Point Band.
Presidential Unit Citation
June 15th, 3rd Ammo, 18th, 19th and 20th Marine Depo Companies landed and engaged in fierce attacks with the enemy on Saipan and Tinian Islands in the Marianas. All elements wen awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
Bronze Star July 21st, the 2nd and 4th Marine Ammo Companies landed on Guam, Marianas Islands. Cited for heroism and bravery, awarded the Navy Unit Commendation and Bronze star.
"Uncommon valor was a common virtue."
1945-February 19th, the 8th Marine Ammo and 36th Marine Depot Companies landed on D-Day with elements of the First Amphibious Corps on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands. The 34th landed on the 24th. Private James M. Whitlock and James Davis of the 36th received the Bronze Star for "heroic achievements in connection with operations against the enemy." All units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. Said Admiral Chester Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations: "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."
largest number of Black Marines in combat
April 1st, 1945 Invasion of Okinawa, Ryuky Islands where the 1st, 3rd units 12th Ammo Co's; 5th, 18th, 37th, 38th Depot Companies, followed later with the 9th, 10th, 19th and 20th Depots.
PFC Frederick C. Branch
of Philadelphia was commissioned as a Reserve Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, thus becoming the 1st Black to attain this distinction.
Occupational campaign 1946-Last Recruit Platoons
at Montford Point Camp, 573, 574, 575th. Montford Point trained 19,168 with 12,738 serving overseas during World War II.
Executive Order #9981, 1948
issued by President Harry S. Truman ending color bias in the American armed forces.
Secretary of Navy Francis P. Matthews 1949
June 23rd, ALNAV 49-447, issued "Equal opportunity for all personnel in the Navy/Marine Corps without regard of race, color religion or national origin."
Montford Point Camp was deactivated
and Sgt Charles Shaw, USMC became First Black Marine Drill Instructor at Parris Island Recruit Depot Sept. 9th, 1949.
During the American Revolution
The first recorded black Marine in the Continental service was John Martin or "Keto," a slave of William Marshall of Wilmington, Delaware, who was recruited without Marshall's knowledge or permission by Marine Captain Miles Pennington in April 1776.
there were at least three blacks in the ranks of the Continental Marines and ten others who served as Marines on ships of the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania navies.
The sum of $750,000
was alloted to construct and enlarge temporary barracks and supporting facilities for the new camp at Montford Point.
Recruiting was to begin on 1 June 1942.
Although the public announcement was not made until 20 May, the basic instructions for Marine Corps Recruiting Divisions were sent out in a letter from the Commandant on 15 May. This letter set a quota of 200 recruits each from the Eastern and Central Divisions while the Southern was to furnish 500 of the initial 900 recruits. These men were to be citizens between 17 and 29 years of age, and they were to meet the existing standards for enlistment in the Corps. They were to be enlisted in Class III(c), Marine Corps Reserve, and assigned to inactive duty in a General Service Unit of their Reserve District. Both the service record book and the enlistment contract were to be stamped "Colored."
When recruiting opened on 1, 1942 June, the first men to enlist were
Alfred Masters and George O. Thompson (1 June), George W. James and John E. L. Tillman (2 June), Leonard L. Burns (3 June), and Edward A. Culp (5 June), all in the 8th Reserve District, headquartered at Pensacola, Florida. On 8 June, James W. Brown in the 3d District (New York) and George L. Glover and David W. Sheppard in the 6th and 7th Districts (Charleston) enlisted.
The Camp Opens On 18 August 1942
Headquarters and Service Battery of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion was activated at Montford Point with Colonel Woods as battalion commander. His executive officer and officer in charge of recruit training was Lieutenant Colonel Theodore A. Holdahl, a World War I enlisted man commissioned as a regular officer in 1924, who had served in the Philippines, China, Nicaragua, and British Guiana.
The camp look like this
and made an indelible impression on the incoming recruits. Coming off Highway 24 near the small and sleepy town of Jacksonville, a narrow road about a mile long led through a corridor of tall pine trees into a large clearing where there was: . . .a headquarters building (#100), a chapel, two warehouses, a theatre building with two wings, which later housed a library, barber shop, [and] classification room on one side and a recreation slop chute [beer hall] on the other, a dispensary building, a mess hall, designated by the recruits as "The Greasy Spoon," quarters and facilities for the SES personnel, a small steam generating plant, a small motor transport compound, a small officers' club, and 120 green prefabricated huts, each designed for billeting 16 men.
Charles F. Anderson, first black sergeant major
a graduate of Morehouse College, who arrived in September and eventually became the first black sergeant major of Montford Point Camp and Charles W. Simmons, a graduate of Alcorn A and M with a masters degree from the University of Illinois, who wound up as sergeant major of the 51st Defense Battalion.
Senior bayonet and unarmed combat instructor
The man who was to become the senior bayonet and unarmed combat instructor of black recruits, Arvin L. "Tony" Ghazlo, a former bodyguard and jujitsu instructor from Philadelphia.