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Frederick Branch, first black Marine officer, dies at 82
Associated Press ^
Posted on 04/13/2005 9:54:13 AM PDT by Borges
PHILADELPHIA - Frederick Clinton Branch, the first black commissioned officer in the Marine Corps, died Sunday at a Philadelphia hospital.
Branch, whose wartime service on a merchant ship in the Pacific helped earn him a spot in Officer Candidate School, was 82.
He was made a lieutenant of the U.S. Marine Corps on Nov. 10, 1945, the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Marines.
Branch had previously been rejected for a spot in Officer Training School, and was instead drafted in 1942 while he was a student at Temple University.
He had been striving for a Marine commission after doing well on an OTC admissions test. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned racial discrimination in government agencies, he and several other blacks entered the school. Branch was the only black in the graduating class of 250.
He later served at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Quantico, Va., which named a training building after him.
"I was the CO of an all-white platoon. I went by the book and trained and led them; they responded like Marines do to their superiors," Branch once told the magazine Marines.
He retired from active duty in May 1952 and founded the science department at Dobbins High School in North Philadelphia, where he taught for 35 years.
Branch was born in Hamlet, N.C., and earned a physics degree from Temple in 1947. He and his wife, who died in 2000, had no children.
Branch died at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, a hospital spokesman said.
He is expected to be buried at Quantico with full military honors.
KEYWORDS: americans; blackhistory; history; marinecorps; marines; obituary; semperfidelis; usmc; veteran; veterans
posted on 04/13/2005 9:54:14 AM PDT
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned racial discrimination in government agencies, he and several other blacks entered the school
FDR graduated from OCS?
posted on 04/13/2005 9:56:31 AM PDT
(Ahhh, the internet.)
posted on 04/13/2005 10:00:03 AM PDT
posted on 04/13/2005 10:01:48 AM PDT
(Ahhh, the internet.)
Hey it's AP, you don't really expect them to have one of these available do you?
posted on 04/13/2005 10:05:09 AM PDT
( "Remember your regiment and follow your officers." Captain Charles May, 2d Dragoons, 9 May 1846)
So Clinton was not the first black president?
posted on 04/13/2005 10:07:00 AM PDT
(I can't help it... It's my idiom!)
Thanks to Strunk and White, I would never have recognized the...thingy, that it is. Misplaced dangler or unclear what-not.
posted on 04/13/2005 10:12:08 AM PDT
(Ahhh, the internet.)
Sounds like a great American! RIP.
posted on 04/13/2005 10:12:25 AM PDT
(Occam was probably right.)
Comment #9 Removed by Moderator
I agree. Anyone who got thorough USMC boot camp and served their country honorably has my utmost respect. Not an easy task.
Godspeed to him and condolences to his family.
posted on 04/13/2005 10:17:23 AM PDT
posted on 04/13/2005 10:26:41 AM PDT
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned racial discrimination in government agencies....
Like hell he did.
posted on 04/13/2005 10:29:09 AM PDT
(Where are we going? And what's with this handbasket?)
Here's a little better bio:
The year was 1943 when a young man from Hamlet, N.C., answered the call to serve his country. Four years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball, and 20 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1963, Frederick C. Branch, along with men like "Hashmark" Johnson and Edgar Huff, earned the title "Marine."
It is his propensity to overcome challenges that drew Branch back to Officer Candidates School after more than 50 years. He returned to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., July 9, as the guest of honor for the dedication of the remodeled Academics Building. The building was named in his honor because of his life's work in the field of education.
Branch began looking into the Army's officer program while he was attending Temple University in Philadelphia in 1943. He took a test to become an Army officer but was drafted into the Marine Corps before he received the results. He served at Montford Point, Camp Lejeune, N.C., until January 1944. After graduating boot camp, Branch learned that he had successfully passed the Army officer's test but it was too late.
Still, Branch's yearning to become an officer grew more and more with each passing day, and his time would soon come.
"When I was at Montford Point (an all black training site) white officers and noncommissioned officers were in charge and I felt it wasn't right," he said.
Upon his departure from Montford Point, Branch, then a corporal, volunteered for duty with the 51st Defense Battalion and deployed to Ellis Island in the Pacific Ocean during World War II.
He was then selected to attend the Navy's V-12 program (a college-level preparatory program for future military officers) at Purdue University, where he made the dean's list. Branch was then sent to Quantico to attend the Commander's Class, Officer Candidates School.
In a class of 250 students, Branch stood by himself as the only black officer candidate, and he succeeded in earning a commission.
"I was treated just like one of the class like everyone else we trained together and stayed together," said Branch who became the commanding officer of a black volunteer training unit in Philadelphia after completing officer training.
As a first lieutenant, Branch was assigned to Quantico and later moved to Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was a platoon commander, battery executive officer and battery commander in the First Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion.
"I was the CO of an all-white platoon. I went by the book and trained and led them; they responded like Marines do to their superiors," said Branch, who served there until his release from active duty in May 1952.
Remaining in the reserves, he was promoted to the rank of captain in February 1954, and resigned his commission in 1955.
After leaving the Marine Corps, Branch was overtaken by the desire to teach. He received a degree in physics from Temple University and completed graduate courses in physics, math, chemistry, and science education.
Branch became deeply involved in education. He taught science in Philadelphia for 35 years and set his sights on improving scholastic studies, eventually creating a chapter of the National Honor Society.
More than 50 years have passed since Branch first pinned on his lieutenant's bars. His desire to achieve and break the color barrier in the Marine Corps, as Jackie Robinson did in baseball, made a difference and helped set the standard for today's Marine Corps.
Semper Fi Capt....Hand Salute !
posted on 04/13/2005 10:30:09 AM PDT
(Always remember - don't ever forget - "2 wrongs don't make a right, it's 3 lefts that make a right.")
posted on 04/13/2005 10:43:04 AM PDT
Good man, great American. The fact that he says he was treated well by other Marines speaks well of the Marine Corps.
posted on 04/13/2005 10:55:01 AM PDT
(A strong democracy through citizen oversight.)
It also shows that he had no desire to play some kind of race game. I'm afraid that lesser men would have made much of racial problems, real or perceived.
posted on 04/13/2005 11:10:01 AM PDT
| United States Marine Corps
Public Affairs Office
Montford Point Marine
National Business Office
P.O. Box 7222
Jacksonville, NC 28540
Master Sergeant Carmen Y. Cordoba, 703-407-0050.
Release # 0412-05-1405
Marine Corps African American trailblazer dies at 83April 11, 2005
The first African American commissioned officer in the US Marine Corps, Frederick C. Branch, died Sunday in Philadelphia at the age of 83.
Drafted into the Marine Corps in 1943 Branch went to boot camp at Montford Point Camp, N.C., today known as Camp Johnson. Montford Camp was a segregated Marine Corps training facility near Jacksonville, created in 1942 to train African American Marines.
Branch served with the 51st Defense Battalion in the South Pacific. On November 10, 1945, the 170th birthday of the Marine Corps, Branch was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant becoming the first African American to graduate from Marine Corps officer training.
Though a reserve officer Branch served on active duty and was a battery commander with an anti-aircraft unit at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Frederick Branch rose to the rank of Capt. before leaving the service in 1952.
In November 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of his commissioning, Senate Resolution 195 honored Branch for his contributions in the face of racial segregation.
More recently, the city of Philadelphia honored Branch at the annual NAACP convention with a proclamation from the Mayor of Philadelphia to honor his service and recognize him as a pioneer.
A Congressional Resolution submitted for consideration in February commemorates the service to the Nation during World War II of the African American members of the US Marine Corps like Branch, who came to be known as the Montford Point Marines.
The Montford Point Marine Association, Inc. is a nonprofit Veteran's organization, established to perpetuate the legacy of the first African Americans who entered the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1949, at Montford Point Camp, North Carolina. The Association has 28 Chapters nationwide.
Funeral details for Frederick Branch will be released as soon as they become available.
posted on 04/13/2005 12:17:09 PM PDT
Comment #21 Removed by Moderator
I'm reminded of then-BG-select Frank Peterson's comment on "The Today Show" in the mid-70's when asked if in his 27 year career in the 'Corps he had ever experienced discrimination: "No. The Marine Corps treats everyone like Blacks."
posted on 04/13/2005 2:50:48 PM PDT
What a great story about a great American.
posted on 04/13/2005 2:52:37 PM PDT
". . . isn't Ellis Island where the Statue of Liberty is in NY harbor?"
There is an Ellis Island in NY harbor.
There is also an Ellis Island chain in the Pacific. It is a set of coral atolls that is not quite at the edge of the world. (But if you stand on your tiptoes, you can see it.)
Ellis Islands are near the Gilberts. Tarawa is in the Gilberts.
posted on 04/13/2005 2:57:21 PM PDT
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