Montford Point Marine Memorial
The Montford Point Marine Memorial is dedicated to all Montford Point Marines and their legacy. A dedication ceremony was held on July 29, 2016 to officially open the Memorial to the public. It is located at Lejeune Memorial Gardens at Montford Landing Road in Jacksonville.
Elements of the memorial include three concentric circle patterns representing the ripples of influence that changes our nation. These ripples were caused by the Montford Point Marines, the US marine Corps and the American Public.
An artillery cannon is representative of WWII weaponry that all US Marines used and trained with. The sculpture represents all Montford Point Marines and represents when Montford Pointers shifted from being support personnel to defenders during the war.
A pillar is at the center of the memorial site and honors Montford Pointers, the US Marine Corps and society during this time, for their unending drive to overcome equality.
A wall of stars includes approximately 20,000 gold stars representing the number of Montford Point Marines that served during WWII. The absence of names on the wall is symbolic of the fact that no complete roster of Montford Point Marines has ever been located.
In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive giving African Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. These African Americans, from all states, were not sent to the traditional boot camps of Parris Island, South Carolina and San Diego, California. Instead, African American Marines were segregated, experiencing basic training at Montford Point, a facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Approximately 20,000 African American recruits received training at Montford Point Camp (less than 10% of the Marine Corps end strength) during World War II. The initial intent was to discharge these African American Marines after the War. In July of 1948 President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order #9981 negating segregation. In September of 1949, Montford Marine Camp was deactivated, ending seven years of segregation.
On April 19, 1974, Montford Point Camp was renamed Camp Johnson, in honor of the late Sergeant Major Gilbert H. "Hashmark" Johnson. Johnson was one of the first African Americans to join the Corps, a distinguished Montford Point drill instructor and a Veteran of WWII and Korea. The Camp remains the only Marine Corps installation named in honor of an African American.
For a complete history, please visit the Montford Point Marine Association website
The Montford Point Marine Association
Twenty years following World War II, during August 1965, a reunion was organized by a group of enterprising Marine veterans and active duty Marines from Philadelphia. The purpose was to renew old friendships and share experiences of former comrades who received recruit training at Montford Point Camp, Camp Lejeune, NC.
This group, chaired by then Master Gunnery Sergeant Brooks E. Gray, USMC, held a meeting in Philadelphia, PA, and formulated and developed plans for a National Reunion. The response was overwhelming and 400 Marines from all over the country convened at the Adelphia Hotel in Philadelphia. Consequently the Montford Point Marine Association, Inc. was established as a non-profit Veterans organization and was subsequently chartered in Pennsylvania in 1966.
Brooks E. Gray was elected as the Association's first National President.