The First Black United States Marines

The Men of Montford Point, 1942–1946


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About the Book

On June 1, 1942, the United States Marine Corps broke a 144-year tradition and enlisted the first black Marines. Three months later, more than 400 black volunteers began their training as members of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion at Montford Point, a Marine camp of over five square miles located within Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Informed by personal interviews, this volume takes an in-depth look at the men who braved the color barrier and became the first black Marines.
Beginning with a look at the pre–World War II Marine Corps, it examines the creed and contemporary image of the USMC. The main focus is the experiences of the new black Marines. Additional topics include internal Marine perspectives on the admittance of blacks, initially enforced quotas, and the difficulties of segregation. Appendices provide information regarding monthly inductions into the Marine Corps from 1941 to 1945; rank and pay structure; depot and ammunition companies from 1943 to 1946; and Pacific Ocean area units of fire for ground weapons.

About the Author(s)

Retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Ronald K. Culp writes historical novels and is a freelance technical writer. He lives in Kerrville, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Ronald K. Culp
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 43 photos, maps, tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013 [2007]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7714-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0749-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Section I. Pre–World War II

1. “No Negro, Mulatto, or Indian to be enlisted…”      7

2. The U.S. Marine Corps—A Very Brief History      10

3. A Closer Look      19

4. A Chance to Join “The Club”      23

Section II. 1941–1942: The War Begins

5. The Exigencies of War      29

6. Blacks Accept the Challenge      33

7. American Strategy      38

8. The First Black Marine Unit      44

9. Training the First Black Recruits      54

10. Changes Come Quickly      66

Section III. 1943

11. Proving Amphibious Doctrine      73

12. Segregation Is Still the Rule      78

13. Training with the Guns      90

14. War Is Serious Business      97

15. Change Comes Slowly      102

16. A Time of Turmoil      112

Section IV. 1944

17. Activating the 52d Defense Battalion      125

18. South Pacific      129

19. Leaving the States      132

20. The Marianas      139

21. Operation Forager Countinues      159

22. Moving Out      167

23. Pushing Black Marines Through      177

24. Garrison Life      188

Section V. 1945–1946

25. No End in Sight      193

26. Hounded by the Press      205

27. Okinawa—Operation Iceberg      208

28. “…A very lovely day…”      216

29. Future for Black Marines      226

30. A Few of the Men, Continued      231

Appendices      235

Chapter Notes      241

Bibliography      253

Index      261

Book Reviews & Awards

“solid, well-researched…in depth…of immense value”—Leatherneck Magazine; “brings a significant American story to a larger public”—The North Carolina Historical Review; “describes the fighting experiences of this first group of men to cross the USMC’s color barrier”—Reference & Research Book News.