Montford Point returns to its roots

1 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. No social advance rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. Every step requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Montford Point Marine Association recently returned to Jacksonville, NC for only the second time since World War II to remember their struggle and celebrate triumphs over segregation during the association’s annual conference July 26 - 29.

Their 41st national convention began with the President’s Reception at the Montford Point Marine’s Chapter here.

A proclamation declaring it Montford Point Week here highlighted the reception. Jan Slagle, Jacksonville mayor, presented the proclamation to retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Joe Getter, national president of the association.

“The support of the mayor and community for our organization has made it possible for us to continue our mission of remembering the Marines of Montford Point,” said Getter.

The association has dwindled from more than 5,000 members in 1999 to 820 this current year. This loss of members stresses the importance of keeping the memory of these Marines alive, he added.

During the week, the association planned a group picnic, a theater dinner and dance, the National Auxiliary Fashion Show and the National Queen Carnation, which is a crowning of a ‘National Queen’ to represent all of the chapters during the year.

Concluding the four-day convention on Saturday, members of the association were given a preview of their new documentary “The Montford Point Marines.”

The documentary is an hour-long video based on 60 interviews with Montford Point veterans recorded between 2001 and 2005.

In attendance for the preview was the narrator of the documentary actor Lou Gossett Jr.

“I am currently, through my foundation and through my life, devoted to going to the roots of what our children don’t know…putting history back together,” said Gossett.

Gossett also jokingly wished he could give half his Oscar to the Marine Corps for the help they provided him during the filming of “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

In addition to our documentary the association is currently working with the Library of Congress to document the personal stories of these Marines while they’re still alive, said Getter.

For more information about the Montford Point Marines, visit their website at, or see their history at the Montford Point Museum located in building M101 on Marine Corps Base Camp Johnson.