Montford Point Marine Memorial, Jacksonville
O. Liam Wright, True Interaction Consultants of New York, Architect
Stan Watts, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sculptor
Atlas Bronze Casting, Salt Lake City Utah, Builder
The memorial space to honor the first African Americans allowed to serve in the United States Marines Corps features three concentric rings and a “Wall of Stars” representing the 20,000 who trained at the segregated Montford Point recruit camp during the 1940’s. The three rings represent the Montford Point Marines, the U.S. Marine Corps and the Changing Society of the 1940s. The rings, according to the architect O. Liam Wright, represent the roles of "all parties involved" in bringing about integration of the United States military. Inside the east circle representing the Montford Point Marines is a bronze statue of a marine picking up and holding an M1 rifle as he puts down a can of ammunition. This is symbolic of the transition of African American soldiers from support and supply roles into combat units. The statue by sculptor Robert Talbot weighs 900 pounds and is 9 feet tall on a sloped marble base for a total height of
15 feet. Incised into the base’s north face is a diagram of the Pacific Theater in World War Two and a list of campaigns in which the Montford Point Marines served. The south side of the base holds three inscriptions titled THEY ARRIVE, THEY SERVED and THEY LIVED.
Inside the west circle is a restored 90-mm M1A1 anti-aircraft gun of the type that combat units trained at Montford Point used during the war. A low lectern shaped marble marker sits in front of the weapon. Its inscription gives the history of this weapon, its restoration and specifications for its operation, ammo types and crew requirements. The south circle speaks to the endured hardships of war and segregation faced by African-Americans of the 1940’s. It features a tree planted in the center with benches for meditation and reflection.
One enters the memorial via a walkway named the “Path of Heroes” which leads to a curved white brick wall that outlines the south ring. “Montford Point Marine Memorial” appears on the outside of this wall. In addition to the three circles, two other triangular shaped elements replicate the meaning of the three rings. One of these stands in front of the wall; is a marble marker several feet high with a top sloping downward from the wall. Incised into the top is an inscription describing the wall and its meaning. The second element is called the “Pillar of Recognition” with inscriptions on all three sides which sits in the intersection of the three rings. The 70-feet by 11-feet high “Wall of Stars” delineates the rear of the memorial space. On the outside of this wall also appears “Montford Point Marine Memorial” along with a set of three flag poles.
Images: Bronze statue of a marine | Side view with base | Statue base, south side inscriptions | 90-mm M1A1 anti-aircraft gun | Gun plaque | Recognition of USMC | Pillar of Recognition, west side | Pillar of Recognition, south side | Diagram of the Pacific Theater in WWII | Wall marker inscription | Far-off view
Statue base, north side: WWII BLACK UNIT MARINE DEPLOYMENTS / PACIFIC THEATER
JAN 1944 – ENIWETOK ATOLL, MARSHALL ISLANDS: STAGING / AREA FOR BATTLE OF IWO JIMA / *51ST DEFENSE BN
FEB 1944 – GILBERT & ELLICE ISLANDS DEFENSE OF / FUNAFUTI ATOLL / *51ST DEFENSE BN
JUNE 1944 – MARINANA ISLANDS: OPERATION FORAGER / AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULTS ON SAIPAIN, TINIAN, GUAM / *3RD MARINE AMMOCO / *18TH 19TH AND 20TH MARINE DEPOT COMPANIES
SEPT 1944 – BATTLE OF PELELIU OPERATION STALEMATE II, / PALAU / *11TH AND 16TH DEPOT CO (UNDER THE 1ST MARDIV) / 7TH AMMO CO (UNDER THE 1ST MARDIV)
FEB 1945 – BATTLE OF IWO JIMA: OPERATION DETACHMENT / *33RD, 34TH AND 36TH MARINE DEPOT COMPANIES / *8TH AMMO CO
APR 1945 – BATTLE OF OKINAWA: OPERATION ICEBERG/ *1ST, 3RD AND 12TH AMMO COMPANIES (UNDER 1ST AND 6TH MARDIV) / *5TH, 9TH, 10TH, 18TH, 37TH AND 38TH DEPOT COMPANIES / (UNDER 1ST AND 6TH MARDIV)
SEP 1944 – OCCUPATION OF JAPAN / 6TH, 8TH AND 10TH AMMO COMPANIES (UNDER 2ND MARDIV / 5TH MARDIV AND THE 8TH SERVICE REGIMENT / *24TH, 33RD, 34TH, 42ND, 43RD DEPOT COMPANIES / (UNDER 2ND MARDIV, 5TH MARDIV AND THE 8TH SERVICE / REGIMENT)
SE9 1945 – OCCUPATION OF NORTH CHINA / *1ST AND 12TH AMMO CO (UNDER 7TH SERVICE REGIMENT / AS PART OF IIIAC CORP) / *5TH, 20TH, 37TH, AND 38TH DEPOT COMPANIES (UNDER / 7TH SERVICE REGIMENT AS PART OF IIIAC CORP)
Statue base, south side, left inscription: THEY ARRIVED / EXECUTIVE ORDER 8802, WHICH / PROHIBITED RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN / THE NATIONAL DEFENSE INDUSTRY, / WAS SIGNED BY PRESIDENT FRANKLIN / D. ROOSEVELT ON JUNE 25, 1941. / ALTHOUGH NOT A LAW, IT WAS THE / FIRST FEDERAL ACTION IN THE UNITED / STATES TO PROMOTE EQUAL / OPPORTUNITY AND TO PROHIBIT / EMPLOYEMENT DISCRIMINATION.
FROM 1942 – 1949, APROXIMATELY / 20,000 AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN / ENLISTED IN THE UNITED STATES / MARINE CORPS. THEY CAME FOR / DIFFERENT REASONS, FROM ALL WALKS / OF LIFE. SOME WANTED THE / CHALLENGE OF BEING A MARINE, SOME / WANTED TO EARN A LIVING, BUT ALL / CAME TO PROTECT AND SERVE THEIR / COUNTRY HONORABLY.
THEY REPORTED TO A SEGREGATED / TRAINING BASE ON A ROUGH, HEAVILY / WOODED, FIVE AND A HALF ACRE SITE / NEAR JACKSONVILL, NORTH CAROLINA / CALLED MONTFORD POINT CAMP Statue base, south side, center inscription: THEY SERVED / WORLD WAR II SAW THE FIRST / AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARINES IN THE / SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY SINCE THE / AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
THESE BRAVE MEN SERVED WITH / HONOR DURING A CRITICAL PERIOD OF / OUR NATION’S HISTORY. THEY FOUGHT / IN SOME OF THE BLOODIEST STRUGGLES / AGAINST JAPAN AND IN THE SOUTH / PACIFIC CAMPAIGNS, TO INCLUDE / SAIPAN, IWO JIMA AND OKINAWA. / SOME DIED IN THESE EPIC ISLAND / BATTLES. OTHERS FURTHERED THEIR / SERVICE IN KOREA AND VIETNAM.
THEIR LEGACY IS ONE OF UNDENIABLE / CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE RICH HISTORY / OF THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS. Statue base, south side, right inscription: THEY LIVED / FOR MONTFORD POINT MARINES, THE / TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS THEY / ENDURED IN WORLD WAR II MARKED / ONLY THE FIRST MILESTONES ON THEIR / LONG JOURNEY.
UPON RETURNING HOME TO THE / UNITED STATES, MONTFORD POINT / MARINES FACED THE CONTINUANCE OF / SEGREGATION, INTOLERANCE AND / MARGINALIZATION. STILL THESE MEN / MAINTAINED THEIR COURSE ON THE / ROAD TO RACIAL EQUALITY.
MANY OF THESE MARINES RETURNED / TO THEIR HOMETOWNS WITH / RUCKSACKS FULL OF BITTERSWEET / MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES.
ON 23 JUNE 1949, SECRETARY OF THE / NAVY FRANCIS P. MATTHEWS ISSUED / ALNAV 49447, A LANDMARK / DECLARATION ON RACIAL POLICY, / WHICH DECREED EQUALITY OF / TREATMENT AND OPPORTUNITY FOR / ALL PERSONS IN THE NAVY AND MARINE / CORPS, WITHOUT REGARD TO RACE, / COLOR, RELIGION OR NATIONAL ORIGIN.
Wall marker inscription: THIS WALL OF STARS SYMBOLIZES THE APPROXIMATELY 20,000 AFRICAN AMERICAN / FIGHTING MEN WHO ONCE STOOD AT MONTFORD POINT CAMP LIKE THIS / CADRE OF STARS, TO BECOME UNITED STATES MARINES. EACH STAR, / SMARTLY ASSEMBLED IN CLOSE FORMATION REPRESENTS THOSE MEN / WHOSE NAMES HAVE AND HAVE NOT BEEN LOST TO HISTORY. THE / FIVE-POINTED STAR CAN BE FOUND IN MANY PLACES, FROM THE / NIGHT SKY IN A CHILD’S DRAWING TO REPRESENTING / ANCIENT WORLD RELIGIONS. LIKEWISE, WHAT THE FIVE- / POINTED STAR SYMBOLIZES CHANGES DRASTICALLY / WITH EACH CULTURE’S INTERPRETATION. ITS / SIGNIFICANCE HAS FOLLOWED THE COURSE / OF HUMAN HISTORY FOR THOUSANDS OF / YEARS. SUCCESS, ACHIEVEMENT AND / TRIUMPH ARE INDICATED BY GOLD / COLOR IN COLOR PSYCHOLOGY. / GOLD IS ASSOCIATED WITH / ABUNDANCE, WELL-BEING / AND PROPERITY. IT / IMPLIES PRESTIGE, / SOPHISTICATION, / ELEGANCE AND / INFLUENCE.
Pillar of Recognition, south side: IN RECOGNITION OF / THE SOCIETY OF THE TIMES /AS OUR FATHERS, SONS AND / BROTHERS FOUGHT POLITICAL AND / SOCIAL INJUSTICES OVERSEAS, / AMERICANS WOULD SLOWLY TURN / THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE FOR / RACIAL EQUALITY IN OUR OWN / NATION, LAYING THE CULTURAL / FOUNDATION FOR THE DAWN OF / THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN / THE 1950’S AND 1960’S. / THE FABRIC OF OUR GREAT NATION / IS A PRISMATIC TAPESTRY OF / PEOPLE, IDEAS AND BELIEFS, / UNIFIED BY THOSE UNFORGETTABLE / WORDS OF OUR FOREFATHERS IN / OUR DECLARATION OF / INDEPENDENCE: / “WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE / SELF-EVIDENT THAT ALL MEN ARE / CREATED EQUAL, THAT THEY ARE /ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH / CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS / THAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE / LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF / HAPPINESS.”
Pillar of Recognition, east side: IN RECOGNITION OF / THE USMC / “MONTFORD POINT MARINES / FOUGHT IN THEIR THIRD AND FINAL / WAR IN VIETNAM. RACIAL TENSIONS / CONTINUED TO EXIST, BUT THE / MARINE CORPS HAD CHANGED / DRAMATICALLY IN VIETNAM. / THEY SERVED IN A MARINE CORPS / THEY COULD ONLY HAVE IMAGINED / AS RAW RECRUITS AT MONTFORD / POINT. THEY FOUGHT IN FULLY / INTEGRATED UNITS, AT TIMES / COMMANDED BY BLACK OFFICERS. / IT WAS A MARINE CORPS THAT / COURAGE, DETERMINATION AND / SACRFICE HAD CREATED.” / MILTON A. MCLAURIN, PHD.
Pillar of Recognition, west side: IN RECOGNITION OF / THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES / “EVERY MARINE, FROM PRIVATE TO / GENERAL, WILL KNOW THE HISTORY / OF THOSE MEN WHO CROSSED THE / THRESHOLD TO FIGHT NOT ONLY / THE ENEMY THEY WERE SOON TO / KNOW OVERSEAS, BUT TO THE / ENEMY OF RACISM AND / SEGREGATION IN THEIR OWN / COUNTRY…THE MARINE CORPS IS / BETTER TODAY BECAUSE OF A / LEGACY OF SERVICE OF OUR / AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARINES.” / GENERAL JAMES F. AMOS, 35TH / COMMANDANT, USMC Anti-aircraft gun marker: A1 90-MM ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN / THIS M1A1 90MM ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUN WAS LOCATED IN WHITESCREEK, TN. IT WAS REFURBISHED IN UNION BRIDGE, MD. ITS / PRESENCE AT THE MEMORIAL COMMEMORATES THE LEGACY OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHO TRAINED AT MONTFORD POINT / CAMP.
THE M1A1 BECAME THE STANDARD ANTI-AIRCRAFTARTILLERY FOR THE DEFENCE BATTALIONS OF THE MARINE CORPS / INCLUDING MONTFORD POINTCAMP’S 51ST AND 52ND DEFENCE BATTALIONS. THE 90MM GUN WAS A MULTIPURPOSE / WEAPONS SYSTEM THAT WAS USED EXTENSIVELY THROUGHOUT THE PACIFIC THEATER DURING WORLD WAR II. IT WAS USED / PRIMARILY TO ENGAGE AIR TARGETS BUT WAS ALSO EMPLOYED ON GROUND TARGETS WHEN NECESSARY.
MONTFORD POINTERS DETERMINATION TO MASTER THE 90-MM WEAPON SYSTEM WAS EVIDENTAS THEY ACCOMPLISHED / AND EXCEEDED EVERY TRAINING CHALLENGE. MARINES ASSIGNED TO THE 51ST AND 52ND DEFENSE BATTALIONS LEARNED / TO MANEUVER AND FIRE THE 90-MM WITH EXCEPTIONAL ACCURACY ALLOWING THEM TO EXCEED MANY STANDING RANGE / RECORDS.
THE MONTFORD POINTERS ELOQUENTLY DUBBED THIS WEAPON “LENA HORNE,” AFTER THE POPULAR ENTERTAINER / AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST BECAUSE WHEN FIRED, THE GUN MADE BEAUTIFUL RHYTHMIC SOUNDS AS ITCOMPLETED ITS FIRING / CYCLE.
[General information data, gun data, performance data, ammunition data and crew requirements not transcribed.]
Lejeune Memorial Gardens, City of Jacksonville
July 29, 2016
34.748020 , -77.414660 View in Geobrowse
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Bronze, marble, brick, concrete, steel
National Montfort Point Memorial Association, Inc., private donations and money from the city of Jacksonville, Onslow County and the state of North Carolina
Phase I & II: $1,800,000.
The dedication was held during the 51st National Convention of the National Montford Point Memorial Association with forty-five veteran Montford Point Marines among the estimated 600 to 1,000 in attendance. Retired Brig. General Johnny Thomas was the keynote speaker. "This is your monument behind me,” he said, “The Montford Point Marines will never be forgotten, and your contributions and legacy will live on." Also speaking was Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, commander of Marine Corps Installations-East who said "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." Others in attendance included retired General James Amos, 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps and retired Col. Adele E. Hodges, the first female commander of Camp Lejeune. “They fought to be Marines. Knowing what they went through, gave me the ability to strive to be the best Marine that I could be. When I was in command, I fought to command as a Marine not as a female and not as a black Marine but as a Marine commander. Their legacy started that,” said Hodges. “It’s an honor to be here.”
Retired 1st Sgt. Barnett Person was comforted by the presence 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 stayed in uniform over 28 years and earned the Silver Star as a tanker in Vietnam.
From 1942-49, nearly 20,000 black Marine recruits trained at Montford Point due to Jim Crow laws. Black Marines could only go onto the adjoining Camp Lejeune if they were accompanied by a white Marine.
Montford Point was renamed Camp Johnson in 1974 in honor of Sgt. Maj. Gilbert “Hashmark” Johnson, a Montford Point drill instructor. Camp Johnson is the only Marine installation named after an African-American. Johnson served during World War II and the Korean War.
Executive Order 9981, signed July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman, ended segregation in the military.
The M1A1 anti-aircraft gun was used by the 51st and 52nd Defense Battalions, two of the Marine units that trained at Montford Point during World War II. This gun is one of fewer than 10 M1A1s known to exist.
Phase II of the memorial will see the addition of engraved bricks featuring the names of Montford Point soldiers, memorial supporters and the addition of lighting and memorial benches.
The memorial is located in Lejeune Memorial Gardens. This triangle shaped park is formed with Montford Landing Road on one side, Lejeune Blvd. (Hwy. 24) on another and U.S. Highway 17 on the third side. The 9/11 World Trade Center Beam Memorial, the Beirut Memorial, and the Onslow County Vietnam Memorial are located nearby in the Gardens.
The memorial complex is located in the garden and park setting.
Lejeune Memorial Gardens have been the site of annual Patriot Day services since 2006.