This title presents the story of the pioneering troops, in their own words. With an executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, the United States Marine Corps - the last all-white branch of the U.S. military - was forced to begin recruiting and enlisting African Americans. The first black recruits received basic training at the segregated Camp Montford Point, adjacent to Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville, North Carolina. This book, in conjunction with the documentary film of the same name, tells the story of these pioneering African American Marines. Drawing from interviews with 60 veterans, Melton McLaurin relates in the Marines' own words their reasons for enlisting; their arrival at Montford Point and the training they received there; their lives in a segregated military and in the Jim Crow South; their experiences of combat and service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam; and, their legacy. This book serves to recognize and to honor the men who desegregated the Marine Corps and loyally served their country in three major wars.
MELTON A. McLAURIN is professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is author of eight books, including the award-winning Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South.