It was fitting that the christening took place in San Diego, because San Diego is the location that the 51st Battalion, America's first all Black combat division, was deployed. USNS Montford Point is the Navy's first mobile landing platform (MLP1), and some thirty Montford Point Marines were invited for this special event. As a surviving member of the 51st, my father has vivid memories of California.
|Artistic rendering of USNS Montford Point (MP1)|
The "Pier at Sea" costs $500 million and was manufactured by General Dynamics. It is the first of three landing platforms. Present at the ceremony was Montford Point Marine Ed Pfizer of New Orleans, who stated in the Coronado Patch, " I was one of the first ones to sign up. We fought two wars; we fought Jim Crow and we fought the Japanese."
The USNS Montford Point will serve as a 785 foot mobile pier, reducing American Forces' dependency on foreign ports. It also:
--Provides 25,00 square feet space to house vehicles and equipment.
-- Holds 380,000 gallons of fuel
|USNS Montford Point|
Jacksonville, North Carolina is the site of Montord Point, Camp Lejeune. Montford Point was the Boot Camp for African American Marine Recruits. It is also the same location that my father was demoted from Private First Class for being out of uniform. Dad was wearing a field jacket instead of his official coat in the town of of Jacksonville, North Carolina. Dad reports being "busted down" to Private. It took him an entire year to earn Private First Class again. His honorable discharge papers reads that he earned the rank of "Corporal". He added, "I could of been a Sergeant!"
Enlisted Marine Rankings
Dad also discussed his stint riding in an a Jeep with the Navy Shore Patrol. The SPs did not take kindly to Negro Marines. So the Navy, which the Marines falls under, decided to have Montford Point Marines patrol the area with the SPs. Dad stated that an unruly drunk white soldier became violent and called him the "N" word. The soldier was subdued by Dad striking him with the butt of his firearm. Luckily, no one was injured and my Dad was not punished. Which reminds me of the belief that sometimes the enemy is not far away, but resides in close proximity...
"The US Marines dates back to 1775 when the first battalions of men were formed under the command of Samuel Nicholas (1744-1790). They assault enemy positions through amphibious means."
"Their extensive service in the Pacific Theater during World War II Solidified their modern image as one of the best and toughest group of soldiers anywhere in the world."
Congratulations to all Montford Point Marines who were very brave, and now have a state of art vessel named on their behalf. Like their Congressional Medal of Honor, it is a distinction well deserved.