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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

90mm News for the 90 Year Old: The Return of "Lena"

"Dad, the weapons that you used in the Marshall Islands were found at an auction. The Montford Point Marine Association will be displaying it in their museum." I couldn't remember the name of the equipment and thought it was pretty exciting that it was recovered.

"Oh, you mean the 90 mm?" My Dad answered, as if we were discussing what he had for breakfast that morning.

"We used the anti-aircraft machine artillery. We were on the two big islands Eniwetok and Kwaajalein-- the rest of the islands were occupied by the Japanese. The US had a blockade and there were airstrips on both islands. There were Navy fighter planes. There was dog battery and fox battery. I was a member of dog battery. Because of the blockade the Japanese submarines could not get food or supplies to their men. I thought I told you that already," Dad chided me.

Source: montford point marine association
The machine that my dad used. Montford Point Marines
exceeded goals during WWII.
"No, I just wanted to make sure that I got it right," I answered, furiously jotting it down in my notebook. I wanted to ask more specific questions, but decided not to push it. I sensed a Western or a pressing news show competing with my father's attention. The additional questions would have to come later to the nonagenarian.*

Anti-Aircraft, as its name implies, are weapons designed to attack enemy airplanes. Dad was a member of the first African American combat unit. His 90mm was relocated a month before his 90th birthday, and almost a year after receiving his Medal of Honor.


So, until my next interview, I have the following information from

The Montford Point Marines performed well in their duties at home and abroad despite the structures placed on them by society in their era. In practice these men surpassed all anti aircraft gunnery records previously set by Marines, and named their weapon "Lena", after their favorite singer, Lena Horne.

The 90 millimeter MIAI anti-aircraft weapon system was delivered to Camp Johnson** back in April 2013. It is currently being displayed in the "Greasy Spoon", which is the site of the Montford Point mess hall and home of the museum. Additionally:

 -It was used by the 51st and 52nd Defense Battalions from 1942-1946.
-Weighs nearly 19,000 pounds
-16 feet in length
- Was the United States main anti-aircraft weapon system from early World War II through the 1950's.


Now I must prepare to write about the Montford Point Marines' 90mm namesake, the inconic Miss Lena Horne...

*nonagenarian: someone ninety to ninety nine years old
** Camp Johnson: An area of Montford Point that was named after Sgt Major Gilbert "Hashmark"Johnson in 1974. Johnson was a drill instructor and served in WWII and Korea. He also served in other military branches.

Mess Hall: military dining room
Greasy spoon: term used to classify a cheap restaurant.

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