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Blacks in the Marine Corps (World War II to Vietnam)


Prior to President Harry Truman’s 1948 declaration of intent to end segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces, blacks who served most often did so in segregated units or under a quota system designed to limit their number. In time of war, the need for men usually required the recruitment or drafting of blacks; in peacetime the number of black servicemen dwindled. In large part, the situation of blacks in uniform was a reflection of their status in society, particularly that part of American society which practiced racial segregation and discrimination. During the American Revolution blacks served in small numbers in both the Continental and state navies and armies. According to surviving muster and pay rolls, there were at least three blacks in the ranks of the Continental Marines and ten others who served as Marines on ships of the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania navies.’ It is probable that more blacks served as Marines in the Revolution who were not identified as such in the rolls. The first recorded black Marine in the Continental service was John Martin or “Keto,” a slave of William Marshall of Wilmington, Delaware, who was recruited without Marshall’s knowledge or permission by Marine Captain Miles Pennington in April 1776. Martin served on board the Continental brig Reprisal until October 1777 when the ship foundered off the Newfoundland Banks. All of her crew except the cook were lost. . . . And so the history begins.

119 pages

Categories: African American, All Books, Korean War, Miscellaneous, Revolutionary War, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam, World War II


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