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