SAN DIEGO - A first-of-its-kind Navy logistics ship will honor the black recruits whose stellar service in fighting Japan in World War II led to the desegregation of the U.S Marine Corps.
The USNS Montford Point, a mobile landing platform ship described by the Navy as a "pier at sea," is named for Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C., where roughly 20,000 African-American Marine Corps recruits trained from 1942 to 1949. The Marines recently received the Medal of Honor as a group.
More than 30 of those Marines were present Saturday when the $500 million vessel was christened at the General Dynamics-NASSO shipyard with a bottle of Champagne being cracked its 765-foot hull. One of them was Ed Pfizer of New Orleans, who enlisted in 1942 and served for three years.
"I was one of the first ones to sign up," Pfizer told U-T San Diego. "We fought two wars -- we fought Jim Crow and we fought the Japanese."
The Montford Point will be operated by civilian sailors and serve as a staging area for equipment, supplies, sailors and Marines.
General Dynamics-NASSCO is under contract to build two more mobile landing platform ships. They will be named after decorated Marine Corps veteran-turned-astronaut-turned-U.S. Senator John Glenn and Lewis B. Puller, also a decorated Marine Corps veteran, according to Naval Today.