Montford Pointers Make Their Way Back to Onslow County
The largest group of the legendary patriots known as the Montford Point Marines made their way back to Onslow County last week to be honored at the dedication of the Montford Point Marines Memorial in Lejeune Memorial Gardens on Friday, July 29th 2016.
Fans on our Facebook page left many comments like this one from Jim Dean, who wrote, “When Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, blacks were, for the first time, permitted to join the Marine Corps. One of the first African Americans to enlist in the United States Marine Corps was Gilbert “Hashmark” Johnson, who became a drill instructor. Between 1942 and 1949, the camp at Montford Point was a recruit depot for black recruits, training 20,000 African Americans during that period.”
His comments provided even more of a history lesson. He went on to include that, “In 1948, by Executive Order 9981, President Harry S. Truman ordered the military to integrate. In 1974, Montford Point was renamed Camp Gilbert H. Johnson in honor of the late Sergeant Major Gilbert H. “Hashmark” Johnson. A Montford Point drill instructor, he served during World War II and the Korean War. Camp Johnson became the home of the Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools.
Leonard Omstead shared his personal story by writing, “Between the Tuskegee pilots and Montford Point Marines were the start of racial equality. I was privileged to have met many as a young Marine there ( in my day it was Camp Johnson)…stayed in the old drafty open squad bays. I was actually the last chef of the quarter before the mess halls went all civilian.”
Many of the Montford Point Marines are now in their 90’s, so never will there be such an occasion as we had last week in Jacksonville to meet them and honor them personally. It was a very moving day of celebration.
Funding for Phase II has been received and the Project is expected to be completed by the end of this year. To make a personal donation, visit the Montford Point Marines Association website.
The City of Jacksonville and Onslow County have a brand new beautiful gem to admire! The very special and new Montford Point Marine Memorial is located in Lejeune Memorial Gardens, in Jacksonville. It’s surely worth the visit to experience a sense of awe, in honor of these dedicated marines who led the way for so many.