In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened up Marine Corps recruitment and basic training to African Americans at Montford Point from 1942-1949. This segregated training base was established on the grounds of Camp Lejeune to prepare the Marines for various duties while in combat. Some became gunners while serving in the Ammunition and Depot Companies.
During World War II, these brave men took the challenge despite not being treated equally to fight for the right to stand against hardships and forge forward to fight at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Guam and other noted places. Some of them died during battles while others came home without the fanfare given to others that had served in the military. Unlike the Tuskegee Airmen, most people have never heard of the Montford Point Marines. These men opened the doors for integration of others that followed behind them. With the closing of Montford Point it became possible for the future Armed Forces to be integrated, unifying the men as equals under the leadership of President Truman.
The Montford Point Marines were finally recognized on November 23, 2011 for their contributions to the Marine Corp and the United States of America by President Barack Obama.
The retired marines’ went on to be pillars of society in many communities across the country. I have had the pleasure of speaking with one such man that lives in Steelton and was a Montford Point Marine…Mr. David Beatty. This long time resident has worked in the area for years, raised his family here and always kept a home here. He is a great neighbor and very dedicated to his church. We should salute him and all the others that stood as a Montford Point Marine.
If you know of any other Montford Point Marine from our community please let us know.
Submitted by Barbara Barksdale
For more information on the Montford Point Marines please visit the National Montford Point Marine Association website.