Newsletters & Information > Dedicate plaque in Arlington Cemetery
Dedicate plaque in Arlington Cemetery

Nov 15, 1996

Montford Point Marines dedicate plaque in Arlington
Sgt. Kurt Sutton

Division PAO,HQMC

MONTFORD POINT MARINES The First Black Marines1942-1949

"The footprints of the Montford Point Marines were left on
the beaches of Roi-Namur, Saipan, Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima,
and Okinawa. The tides and winds have, long ago, washed
them out into the seas of history, but, "The Chosen Few" in
field shoes and canvas leggings, also left their marks in
the firm concrete of Marine Corps history. And as new
generations of Marines learn to march in those footprints,
their cadence assumes the proud stride of those Men from
Montford Point." //Gen. Leonard F. Chapman.

Dedicated November 15, 1996 by the Montford Point Marine

Members of the Montford Point Marine Association dedicated
a bronze plaque and "living memorial" tree in Arlington
National Cemetery Nov. 15 to commemorate the
accomplishments and sacrifices of the first generation of
African-American Marines.

Montford Point, now Camp Johnson, N.C., located aboard Camp
Lejeune, was a place in 1942 where black recruits received
their basic training, segregated from their white
counterparts who trained at Parris Island, S.C. or San
Diego, Calif.

When Executive Order 8802 was issued by President Franklin
D. Roosevelt, on June 25, 1941, it established the fair
employment practice that was the beginning of the end of
racial segregation for the U.S. Armed Forces. This order
would require years to take full affect, but would at least
allow blacks the opportunity to serve their country.

And serve they did.

From 1942-1949, nearly 20,000 Marines graduated from
Montford Point. Many of those Marines went on to distant
battles on Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and Peleliu during WW II.
Some of those Marines went on to continue their
distinguished service in Korea and Vietnam.

Brigadier General Clifford L. Stanley, Director, Division
of Public Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps, was the
keynote speaker for the ceremony which drew nearly 300
former and active duty Marines, family members, and
civilian dignitaries. "We stand here on hallowed ground,
where truly there is no more discrimination," said Stanley.

The week prior to the dedication, Montford Point Marines
and members of the local chapter of the Young Marines
helped celebrate the 221st Marine Corps birthday in a
commemorative church service at the Fort Myer chapel.

"We try to be active in the community and these events are
away that we can do that. The Young Marines here are the
only Young Marines who bear the Montford Point name, so we
try to support them in whatever way we can," said Bennie E.
Walton,Montford Point Marine Association member and
national chapter historian. "We have about 60 members in
our Montford Point chapter and we help out with 60 or so
Young Marines in the metropolitan area," he said.

Since the 1960's, Montford Point Marines have organized
chapters throughout the country to maintain camaraderie and
perform community actions such as supporting the Young
Marines program, feeding the hungry, and taking care of the
widows of former Marines

The Montford Point plaque and tree dedication ceremony took
six months to organize. The money for the plaque and tree
was contributed by Montford Point Marine Association
chapters from around the country.

"I'm very happy that I'm still around to see this plaque
dedicated. It was a long time in coming and took a lot of
effort getting it through. I'm very proud that our time has
finally come," said Walton.

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Last updated 11.29.96

Friday, November 1996



Historical advisor Byron Stewart PhD


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