In 1942, shortly after the United States entered the second World War, African Americans began to enlist in the United States Marine Corps after President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order banning discrimination within the US Defense Industry. Despite being able to join, the military was still segregated and Black marines were trained at a separate facility known as Montford Point near Jacksonville, North Carolina.
During this time, unlike white soldiers, the Black marines had to “fight for the right to fight” - many were not given the chance to serve in combat, despite being forced to go through significantly harder physical and mental testing. 20,000 Black recruits went through training at this camp between 1942-1949, discontinuing when segregation within the armed forces was outlawed by President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Order 9981. They were finally recognized for their service in 2012 by President Barack Obama, with the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to all living and nonliving Montford Point Marines.
13 Montford Point Marines were locals from Key West. In 2021, the City honored these men who served in the face of adversity with a memorial in the Key West Veterans Memorial Garden at Bayview Park, a ceremony that was attended by many, including children and great grandchildren of the 13. The engraved monument lists the names of all; Clarence Alce Sr., George Carey, Charles A. Allen, Sr., Ralph Williams, Nathan B. Tynes, Robert B. Sawyer, Sr., Nathaniel W. Mickens, Charles G. Manuel, William C. Johnson, Sr., Shedrack M.A. Hannibal, Timothy E. Johnson, James Hall, and Vernol H. Carey. It is located near a separate monument dedicated to the Black Union soldiers who were recruited from Key West to fight in the Civil War.
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