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Montford Point Marines jump over an obstacle course during recruit training at Montford Point Camp, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

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Pioneers in non-segregated Corps carry on valued traditions.aspx

7 Aug 2009 | Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

The United States needed more troops because of their involvement in World War II. The Marine Corps responded by integrating African American troops into its force as a temporary solution with plans to later discharge them. However, the African American Marines proved vital for mission accomplishment. The Marine Corps saw one color—green.

Monfort Point Camp, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., was the site of their recruit training from 1942 to 1949, until the Corps began fully-integrated training in 1949. Montford became effectively deactivated a year when President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order in 1948.

One organization keeps the tradition of the Montford Point Marines alive.

The Montfort Point Marine Association was started in 1965 in Philadelphia where more than 400 veteran and active-duty Montford Point Marines met to share their experiences. Since then, the MPMA has grown to over 36 chapters across the United States, including one in San Diego.

“The Montford Point Marine Association has been a catalyst of keeping the legacy of the Montfort Point Marines alive,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Johnson, the vice president for the Los Angeles chapter of the MPMA. “Our organization is meant to be a positive and progressive organization.”

The Corps has come a long way since becoming integrated. Now, as long as everybody is completing the mission, there is no problem with anything regarding race, commented Robert D. Reid, president of the Los Angeles chapter, who was a recruit at Montford Point in 1948.

“I am really enthused when I go to Camp Pendleton and teach the Marines about us and see all the diversity now,” said Reid.

The organization helps local communities and charities by offering scholarships both locally and nationally. The chapters combined offer approximately $72,000 worth of scholarship money each year, commented Johnson.

Any veteran of any military service can join the organization. Interested persons must have served for at least 90 days, and have an honorable discharge. Membership prices vary depending on age.

The overall mission of the MPMA is to promote and preserve the strong bonds of friendship born from shared adversities. Now members of the MPMA devote themselves to the furtherance of positive influence for the youth, according the organization’s Web site.

Because of the MPMA, the Montford Marines’ history lives on, and their importance in the Corps’ history will not be forgotten.

The MPMA San Diego chapter will host the Chosin Few Banquet August 22 at Naval Station San Diego to fund the Montford Point Marine Association Scholarship. Members of different chapters hold these banquets to fund the scholarship year round.