2018 NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH
Date Signed: 1/7/2019
MARADMINS Number: 009/19
R 071719Z JAN 19
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC MRA MP//
SUBJ/2018 NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH//
REF/A/PUBLIC LAW 99-244/11FEB1986/NATIONAL BLACK (AFRO-AMERICAN) HISTORY MONTH//
REF/B/ NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE/NMAAHC.SI.EDU//
REF/C/NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH/AFRICANAMERICANHISTORYMONTH.GOV//
REF/D/ASSOCIATION FOR THE STUDY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFE AND HISTORY (ASALH)/ASALH.ORG//
POC/T. M. VELAZQUEZ/CIV/MRA (MPE)/TEL: COM 703-784-9371/TEL: DSN 278/EMAIL: THERESA.VELAZQUEZ@USMC.MIL//
POC/N. R. APPLEGATE/2NDLT/ MRA (MPE)/TEL: COM 703-784-9371/TEL: DSN 278/EMAIL: NIKOLAS.APPLEGATE@USMC.MIL//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. On 11 February 1986, the 99th Congress approved and President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 99-244, thus designating February of each year as “National Black (Afro-American) History Month.” Now each February during African American History Month, we take the opportunity to reflect upon all African Americans and to recognize their past and continuing contributions to the success and development of our Nation. The observance theme for 2019 is: “Black Migrations.”
2. African Americans have been moving our Nation forward since its founding. Time and again, African Americans have offered their selfless service in numerous fields of endeavor and demonstrated tremendous loyalty, ingenuity, leadership, and heroism despite many hardships and obstacles. Within the Marine Corps, the Montford Point Marines breached the path upon which today’s Marines tread, and the African American Marines of today continue to broaden and deepen that path.
3. On 10 November 1945, Frederick C. Branch (1922-2005) was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve after serving in WWII as one of the more than 20,000 Montford Point Marines. Upon completion of Officer Candidates School (OCS), he earned the distinction as the first African American commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. Frederick Branch was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and promoted to the rank of Captain; however, upon finding his career opportunities limited, he resigned from the Marine Corps in 1955. During his Reserve service, Frederick Branch graduated from Temple University in 1947 with a degree in physics. He established the science department at Murrell Dobbins High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he taught for over three decades until retiring from education in 1988. In 1997, OCS on MCB Quantico dedicated Branch Hall in recognition of Frederick Branch’s ground-breaking role in integrating the Corps.
4. Today, the Marine Corps commemorates the historic contributions of all African American Marines by investing in the future through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship Program. In 2006, the Marine Corps Recruiting Command established this NROTC scholarship for selected midshipmen attending one of the 17 historically black colleges and universities that host NROTC on their campuses. Sixty-eight scholarships are offered each year.
5. Born 25 August 1937 to a family of sharecroppers, Major James Capers, Jr. became one of the most decorated Marines in U.S. history. Enlisting in 1956, his infantry training was cut short, and he deployed to Lebanon. He reenlisted in 1959 with aspirations of being a force reconnaissance Marine. After rigorous testing, he became the first African American to join the Special Operations Community of the Marine Corps as a Sergeant of the First Force Reconnaissance Company. When the United States entered the Vietnam War, Sergeant Capers volunteered for the Third Force Reconnaissance Company. He was selected to join the elite Force Recon Marine unit participating in 64 reconnaissance patrols and five major campaigns in Vietnam. He was appointed leader of Team Broadminded, a specialized group of Force Recon Marines. Team Broadminded was routinely selected to go on the most dangerous and clandestine missions in Vietnam. The team’s missions included a POW rescue ordered by President Lyndon B. Johnson; amphibious assaults in the DMZ; recovery of a B-57 alleged to have a nuclear bomb; and search and destroy patrols in Phu Loc. His leadership and commitment to his men and his duty earned him the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1966, making him the first African American to be commissioned as an officer in Marine Corps Special Operations. Major Capers was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars with Combat V, three Purple Hearts, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, three Good Conduct Ribbons, Battle Stars, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, CG Certificate of Merit, and multiple letters of Merit, Appreciation, and Commendation. Major Capers is the first African American to command a Marine Recon company and the first enlisted African American Marine to receive a battlefield commission. During the height of the Cold War, he continued clandestine operations in Africa and Eastern Europe. Major Capers stayed with the Marines until 1978 when he retired after 22 years of dedicated service. Still living today, Major Capers shares his story with all willing listeners.
6. During this observance month, commanders are encouraged to recognize and celebrate the invaluable service and selfless contributions African Americans, both military and civilian, give to our country and Corps. Commanders are further encouraged to conduct programs and promote participation in observance events within their commands and across their local communities.
7. Release authorized by BGen W. H. Swan, Division Director, Manpower Plans and Policy.//