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Marine Corps African American trailblazer dies

Apr 11, 2005

Marine Corps African American trailblazer dies at 83
April 11, 2005

The first African American commissioned officer in the US
Marine Corps, Frederick C. Branch, died Sunday in
Philadelphia at the age of 83.

Drafted into the Marine Corps in 1943 Branch went to boot
camp at Montford Point Camp, N.C., today known as Camp
Johnson. Montford Camp was a segregated Marine Corps
training facility near Jacksonville, created in 1942 to
train African American Marines.

Branch served with the 51st Defense Battalion in the South
Pacific. On November 10, 1945, the 170th birthday of the
Marine Corps, Branch was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant
becoming the first African American to graduate from Marine
Corps officer training.

Though a reserve officer Branch served on active duty and
was a battery commander with an anti-aircraft unit at Camp
Pendleton, Calif.

Frederick Branch rose to the rank of Capt. before leaving
the service in 1952.

In November 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of his
commissioning, Senate Resolution 195 honored Branch for his
contributions in the face of racial segregation.

More recently, the city of Philadelphia honored Branch at
the annual NAACP convention with a proclamation from the
Mayor of Philadelphia to honor his service and recognize
him as a pioneer.

A Congressional Resolution submitted for consideration in
February commemorates the service to the Nation during
World War II of the African American members of the US
Marine Corps like Branch, who came to be known as the
Montford Point Marines.

The Montford Point Marine Association, Inc. is a nonprofit
Veteran's organization, established to perpetuate the
legacy of the first African Americans who entered the
United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1949, at Montford
Point Camp, North Carolina. The Association has 28 Chapters

Funeral details for Frederick Branch will be released as
soon as they become available.



Historical advisor Byron Stewart PhD


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