New monument honoring first black U.S. Marines is unveiled at Camp Lejeune

, Marine Corps Times 12:23 p.m. EDT July 29, 2016

The surviving Montford Point Marines gather in front of a new monument unveiled for them at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday. Montford Point Marines were the first African American men to join a still-segregated Marine Corps during World War II.(Photo: Lance M. Bacon/Staff)

The surviving Montford Point Marines gather in front of a new monument unveiled for them at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday. Montford Point Marines were the first African American men to join a still-segregated Marine Corps during World War II.(Photo: Lance M. Bacon/Staff)

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C — More than 1,000 people gathered here Friday morning to honor the first African-Americans admitted to a still-segregated Marine Corps during World War II.

The first phase of the National Montford Point Marine Memorial was unveiled about 75 years after the first black Marines began training here to fight for their country. The crowd included dozens of original Montford Point Marines, many of whom donned Congressional Gold Medals — the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress, which were awarded in 2012.

The Marines were recognized as heroes, pioneers and men who fought for the right to defend their country.

“Today is your day,” said retired Brig. Gen. Johnny Thomas, who served as keynote speaker. “This is your monument behind me. The Montford Point Marines will never be forgotten, and your contributions and legacy will live on.”

Retired 1st Sgt. Barnett Person was comforted by the presence and memory of old friends as he looked upon the memorial.

“This feels very, very good. It is a day I never thought I would see,” said Person, a 1946 graduate of Montford Point who proudly points out he stayed in uniform for 28 years, eight months and 10 days. He earned the Silver Star as a tanker in Vietnam during that time.

First Sgt. Barrett Person, a Montford Point Marine, stands in front of a new monument at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday. The monument honors men like Person, who were the first black Marines to fight in a segregated Marine Corps during World War II. (Photo: Lance M. Bacon/Staff)

Amid the celebration, his gaze repeatedly drifted to young, uniformed privates and privates first class.

“I hope they continue to carry on, and follow in the footsteps, and complete the mission,” he said.

Though segregated and marginalized, given menial tasks and substandard equipment, the Montford Point Marines charged forward — a fight captured in the memorial’s various components and explained by retired Gunnery. Sgt. Forest Spencer, national president of the Montford Point Marine Association.

A new monument for Montford Point Marines was unveiled at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday. (Photo: Lance M. Bacon/Staff)

The 900-pound bronze statue and its base stand 15 feet tall. Behind the Marine sits a rare 90mm M1A1 anti-aircraft gun, the primary weapon used by the 51st and 52nd Defense Battalions to which the Marines were assigned. The bronze Marine is seen setting down his ammunition can and taking up his rifle, a symbolic nod to the transition from a support role to one of combat.

The memorial includes three rings that meet in the center and a “wall of stars” that represents the 20,000 Marines who trained at the segregated Montford Point recruit camp during the 1940s.

In the words of Spencer, they arrived, they served, they lived and they endured.

The $1.8 million memorial, now in its seventh year, is being constructed in two phases on what many in attendance consider hallowed ground. It stands at the entrance to what was once known as Montford Point, but in 1974, was renamed Camp Johnson in honor of Sgt. Maj. Gilbert “Hashmark” Johnson, a Montford Point drill instructor.

“Today, this inspiring memorial takes its rightful place among the other silent testimonials to the courage, dedication and sacrifice of our men and women who have worn the cloth of this nation,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, commander of Marine Corps Installations-East. “The story of the Montford Point Marines in the 1940s is a uniquely American one — forged by ominous threats from abroad, and shaped by societal struggles and entrenched racial bigotry at home.

“Standing in the cross-currents of those tumultuous times was a generation of 20,000 African Americans who shared a simple, singular desire: to humbly serve and defend this nation no matter what the consequence, no matter what the cost.”

Executive Order 8802, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, prohibited racial discrimination in the military, but the Marine Corps was not quick to embrace the change. In the eight years that followed, black Marine recruits were forced to train at Montford Point.

More than 12,000 served in the Pacific Island Hopping Campaign. Executive Order 9981, signed by President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1948, ended segregation in the military.

 

Next CVO Meeting at Montford Point August 16

The Coalition of Veterans Organizations (CVO) will hold it’s next meeting on Saturday, August 16th from 10 AM to 12:30 PM at the Montford Point Marine Association, 7011 S Vincennes in Chicago.

We’re going back to Montford Point! Make sure to attend!

We’ll be having a presentation on the Crisis Hot Line from the Jesse Brown Suicide Prevention staff. We’ve received another response from the VA in Washington, DC in response to our letter about the Crisis Hot Line! Come to the meeting and hear the latest! Plus, much more!

Coffee and donuts will be served (as usual)!!

Be early so we can get started on time!

Bruce Parry
CVO Chair

Stand Down For Women Veterans October 26 2013

National Women Veterans United

Montford Point Marine Association

SAVE THE DATE & DONATE!
Contact: (312) 458-9130 – To donate, volunteer,
participate as a resource vendor or register as a veteran.
Pre- Veteran’s Day Stand Down
For
Women Veterans

Saturday, October 26, 2013
9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Event Location:
MONTFORD POINT MARINE ASSOC.
7011 S. Vincennes Ave
Chicago, IL

Resources, Raffles, Clothes, Food etc.
FREE! FREE!

NEED:
New and clean gently used clothes, shoes, belts, purses, jewelry, monetary gifts, raffle gifts, non-perishable food

WANTED:
Sponsors for Breakfast and Lunch!

Donation Drop off Dates:
Every Friday & Saturday
Beginning: Friday, September 6, 2013
Ending: Saturday, October 11, 2013
Friday’s 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m

Drop off location:
Montford Point Marine Association
7011 S. Vincennes Ave Chicago, IL

Contact: (312) 458-9130 – To donate, volunteer,
participate as a resource vendor or register as a veteran.

Download Flyers Below

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Next CVO meeting moved to Saturday, Aug 31st

Due to a number of conflicts, the next CVO meeting will be held on Saturday, August 31st from 10 AM to 12:30 PM at the Montford Point Marine Association at 7011 S Vincennes in Chicago. This is instead of meeting on the third Saturday of August as we normally do.

We will send out regular reminder emails and make reminder telephone calls during the week prior to the meeting.

See you there!

Community and Resource Event September 28 2013


Montford Point Marine Association

Ladies Auxiliary Chicago Chapter 2

Invites You To Join Us

Community and Resource Event

For Veterans, Military Service Members,
Community, Seniors and Children

Federal, State, County and City Services,
VA Benefits Info, Food, Fun, Raffles & More….

St. Bernard Pediatrics Mobile Health Units – Parents Must Be Present,
Bring shot records and must sign consent form.

Saturday, September 28, 2013
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Montford Point Marine Association
7011 S. VINCENNES AVENUE
CHICAGO  IL 60621

For More Information Contact

Dale Cain, Chair
773-627-0703

Effie Wilson, Co-Chair
773-723-5440

Download Flyer ↓
MPMA Event September 28 2013

CVO Meeting July 21, 2012

July 2012 MeetingThe Coalition of Veterans Organizations (CVO) will hold its next meeting this Saturday, July 21st, from 10 AM to 12:30 PM at the  Montford Point Marine Association at 7011 S Vincennes in Chicago.

We’ll be meeting in the Board Room this time.

 

On the agenda will be our new headgear, meetings with Congressional Representatives, the upcoming Warrior Summit and more!!

Coffee and Donuts will be served!

Come early so we can get started on time!