Mayor Craig Cates and Commissioner Clayton Lopez Tuesday designated November 17th as Montford Point Marines Day in honor of the at least eight Key West men who served in that segregated Unit.
In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive giving African Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. These African Americans were segregated — experiencing basic training at Montford Point — a facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina where approximately twenty thousand African American Marines received basic training at between 1942 and 1949.
“The proud and courageous feats of the Montford Point Marines had been buried and overlooked for approximately 65 years until,” reads the proclamation, “President Obama signed the order for the Congressional Gold Medal to be presented by Congress to the Montford Point Marines.”
On June 27th, 2012, approximately 368 living original Montford Point Marines were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by the Atlanta Branch Montford Point Marine Association at the White House.
At least eight men from the small island of Key West served in World War II as Montford Point Marines: Nathan “Joker” Tynes, James Hall, Charles “Bookie” Allen, Sr., Charles Manuel, Shedrack “Candyman” Hannibal, Jr., William “Boss” Johnson Sr., Clarence “Fly” Alce, Sr. and George Carey.
In conjunction with the 240 anniversary of the Marines and the recent dedication of the Veteran’s Memorial, said Lopez, “I thought it fitting that we celebrate the service of eight men from our community. They were not given the some honors or privileges of others that served. But they served, they were first, and they were ours.”