African-Americans First Permitted To Enlist In US Marines on 1 June 1942

 

 

 

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“Breaking a tradition of 167 years, the U.S. Marine Corps started enlisting Negroes on June 1, 1942. The first class of 1,200 Negro volunteers began their training 3 months later as members of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion at Montford Point, a section of the 200-square-mile Marine Base, Camp Lejeune, at New River, NC. The first Negro to enlist was Howard P. Perry shown here.” N.d. Roger Smith. 208-NP-10KK-1.  

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“The first Negro to be commissioned in the Marine Corps has his second lieutenant’s bars pinned on by his wife. He is Frederick C. Branch of Charlotte, NC.” November 1945. 127-N-500043.  

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“Handling Negro Marine public relations at the Montford Point Camp here are Sgt. Lucious A. Wilson (left)…, and his photographer, Cpl. Edwin K. Anderson… Sgt. Wilson is a former correspondent for the New York Amsterdam News….” N.d. 208-NP-10FFFF-1.

Amsterdam News is a New York City based newspaper directed to the African-American population of that city and beyond. The first edition was issued on 4 December 1909. http://amsterdamnews.com/

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“Marine Cpl. Robert L. Hardin…checks the main distributing frame in Montford Point’s headquarters for line difficulties.” N.d. Sgt. L. A. Wilson. 127-N-8768. (african_americans_wwii_096.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“… Although a dress uniform is not a part of the regular equipment, most of the Negro Marines spend $54 out of their pay for what is generally considered the snappiest uniform in the armed services… Photo shows a group of the Negro volunteers in their dress uniforms.” Ca. May 1943. Roger Smith. 208-NP-10NN-2. (african_americans_wwii_097.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

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“First Negro Marines decorated by the famed Second Marine Division somewhere in the Pacific (left to right) Staff Sgt Timerlate Kirven…and Cpl. Samuel J. Love, Sr… They received Purple Hearts for wounds received in the Battle of Saipan…” N.d. 208-NP-10SSSS-1. (african_americans_wwii_098.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

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“Pfc. Luther Woodward…, a member of the Fourth Ammunition Company, admires the Bronze Star awarded to him for `his bravery, initiative and battle-cunning.’ …” The award was later upgraded to the Silver Star. April 17, 1945. Cpl. Irving Deutch. 127-N-119492. (african_americans_wwii_099.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“Peleliu Island…Marines move through the trenches on the beach during the battle.” September 15, 1944. Fitzgerald. 127-N-9527. (african_americans_wwii_101.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“Aboard a Coast Guard-manned transport somewhere in the Pacific, these Negro Marines prepare to face the fire of Jap[anese] gunners.” Ca. February 1944. 26-G-321. (african_americans_wwii_105.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“Surrounded by a veteran crew of Marines who have spent 15 months in the Southwest and Central Pacific, this gun, named the ‘Lena Horne’ by its crew, points majestically skyward. The gun is manned by members of [the 51st] Defense Battalion, one of two such Negro units in the Corps.” 1945. Nicholson. 127-N-12174. (african_americans_wwii_106.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“Two Negro duck [DUKW] drivers turn riflemen after their vehicle is destroyed.” February 19, 1945. Christian. 127-N-111123. (african_americans_wwii_108.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

 

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“Negro assault troops await orders D-day to attack enemy shortly after they had come ashore at Saipan in the Marianas.” June 1944. T/Sgt. William Fitch. U.S. Coast Guard, 127-N-83928. (african_americans_wwii_111.jpg)

Caption is original to the photograph at the time it was issued to the press by the US Navy in World War Two. The US Marines were part of the US Navy and did not become a separate service until after World War Two.

(Photos courtesy of US National Archives and Record Administration.  USNationalArchives african-americans/ww2-pictures/#usmc

Less We Forget

During World War Two

24,511 US Marines Killed in Action
68,207 US Marines Wounded in Action

Figuresfromnationalww2museum

I have been unable to find the number of African-American Marines killed in action in World War Two.

 

708 African Americans of all services combined were killed in combat during World War II

Michael Clodfelter. Warfare and Armed Conflicts- A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500–2000. 2nd Ed. 2002 ISBN 0-7864-1204-6.

 

 

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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