News: Montford Point Marines join 2nd Supply Battalion
Story by Cpl. Paul Peterson
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - The Marines of 2nd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group embraced their forefathers, the Montford Point Marines, during the battalion’s 237th Marine Corps Birthday celebration in New Bern, N.C., Oct. 29.
They joined together in remembrance, united by a shared mission and legacy of service.
The Montford Point Marines helped break the barriers of segregation in the Marine Corps and were the first African Americans to bear the title of Marines. Until recently, their contributions went largely unrecognized.
“Tonight is special to me because we celebrate the history and heritage of our own unit,” said Lt. Col. Jesse A. Kemp, the battalion’s commanding officer. “Our heritage is actually tied very closely with the Montford Point Marines.”
Supply Battalion was first formed in 1950, but it built itself around the model of the depot and ammunition companies of World War II. The Montford Point Marines formed the backbone of many of those companies.
The two generations of Marines packed the reception center, which is less than an hour’s drive from Camp Lejeune. Approximately 20,000 African-American recruits reported to the Montford Point training facilities, right outside of the base, following the outbreak of World War II.
“Besides the fact that they provided vital sustainment that actually made the difference in why we won the war in the Pacific, they saw savage fighting along the way,” said Kemp.
Marines who graduated from Montford Point battled alongside other Leathernecks as they fought their way from island to island, added Kemp. They struggled alongside the troops on Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Guam, where service support Marines defended vital supplies from direct-enemy assaults.
“Their service was described as unglamorous,” said Kemp. “I know those of us in the room can certainly relate to that.”
The visiting members of the Montford Point Marines sat at various tables throughout the dining hall. The crowd waited in silence as Kemp called each of them to stand and be recognized amidst their fellow servicemembers.
“The Montford Point Marines certainly represent much more than our shared heritage,” said Kemp, as he gestured to the audience. “They were truly pioneers who paved the way for an end to racial segregation in our Corps. You only have to look around the room tonight to confirm their legacy. Supply Battalion is one of the most diverse units in the Marine Corps.”
The battalion provided each of the Montford Point Marines with a simple, metal canteen cup. The inscription read, “The deepest respect and sincere appreciation for the founding fathers of 2nd Supply Battalion.”