Memorial to 1st black Marines dedicated at Camp Lejeune

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A memorial is being dedicated at Camp Lejeune to honor the Montford Point Marines, the nation’s first black Marines.

Forty-five Montford Point Marines are scheduled to attend the dedication Friday at Lejeune Memorial Gardens. The first phase of the memorial cost about $1 million and includes a statue of a Montford Point Marine.

Among those who plan to attend is 88-year-old John Spencer, who rose to the rank of staff sergeant during his 20 years of active duty that included service in World War II and the Korean War.

About 20,000 men trained at the segregated Montford Point camp from 1942 to 1949 after President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order that led to the desegregation of the Marine Corps, the last branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to admit blacks. In 1948, President Truman signed an executive order that officially ended segregation in the military.

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