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Old 02-11-2020, 07:15 AM
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Thumbs up Montfort Point Marine, part of the Corps’ first integrated unit, dies at 92

Montfort Point Marine, part of the Corps’ first integrated unit, dies at 92
By: J.D. Simkins - MarineTimes - 02-11-20

Photo link:
A group of the Montford Point Marines in dress blues, ca. May 1943. (National Archives)

Raymond Williams enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1946 as an 18-year-old and was trained as one of the storied Montfort Point Marines in Jacksonville, North Carolina, according to

The all-black unit based at Montfort Point Camp began training in 1942 — separately from their white counterparts at Parris Island, South Carolina — following the June 1941 signing of Executive Order 8802 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which was designed to provide opportunities in the defense industry to everyone “without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin.”

2nd Photo Link:
An Alabama man who helped integrate the Marines has died.

The order came much to the chagrin of then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Thomas Holcomb, who, following the signing, infamously said, “If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes, I would rather the whites.”

There would be “a definite loss of efficiency in the Marine Corps if we have to take Negroes,” he added.

The Montford Point Marines would go on to distinguish themselves in combat throughout the Pacific theater — most notably on Okinawa, where approximately 2,000 saw intense action. Their battlefield success prompted the Marine commandant who succeeded Holcomb, Lt. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, to correct his predecessor with the adamant declaration, “The Negro Marines are no longer on trial. They are Marines, period.”

Williams, meanwhile, followed up basic training by joining the first integrated Marine units at Onslow Beach in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to train in anti-aircraft combat. He would go on to spend much of his enlistment as a military police officer at the Naval Ammunition Depot Marine Base in Earle, New Jersey, according to

The New Orleans native left the Corps as a corporal and returned to his hometown, where he used his Montgomery GI Bill to attain multiple degrees at Xavier University of Louisiana.

After a brief stint as a teacher, Williams was hired by NASA to oversee operations at the New Orleans-based space command center at Michoud Assembly Facility, reported. The Marine then put all seven of his children through college before settling in Alabama.

In 2012, Williams became one of nearly 20,000 Montford Point Marines to be honored by former President Barack Obama with the Congressional Gold Medal when he was presented the award at the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve building in Huntsville, Alabama.

“I was so surprised to see many people come here and celebrate this moment with me,” Williams told WHNT news at the 2012 ceremony.

“I am proud to be a Marine.”

Despite the presidential distinction, fewer than 2,000 Montford Point Marines have actually received their medals, Joe Geeter, spokesman for the National Montford Point Marine Association, told Marine Corps Times in 2019.

In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, putting an end to segregation in the Marine Corps. The Montford Point Marines were dissolved one year later.

About this writer: J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times who was a Marine scout observer from 2004-2008.


Personal note: Our respects go out to the Marine Corp. and his Family & Friends for their loss. May he now rest in peace and meet all his friends and family.


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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