Black Montford Point Marines during World War II

2 Of The First Black Marines Die Within Days Of Each Other

Two barrier-breaking Marine Corps veterans who were among the first Black men to enlist in the service died within a week of each other. reports Comsas Eaglin Sr., 108, and Nathaniel “Nate” Boone, 95, joined the all-Black Montford Point Marines during World War II. The two men were honored decades after serving for breaking racial lines in the service.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Eaglin and the Montford Point Marines “helped lead the progress toward racial equality that our country has made over the last 80 years,” according to the North Carolina Department of Military Affairs (NCDMA).

Montford Point was an all-Black military training facility outside Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The camp trained more than 15,000 recruits after President  Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order banning discrimination in the armed services.

Montford Point was decommissioned in 1949. By then, the Marines had Black drill sergeants, officers, and female service members. In 2011, President Barack Obama signed a provision into law awarding Montford Point Marines the Congressional Gold Medal.

Eaglin, who died Aug. 15, was born on Jan. 1, 1915. He joined the Marines when he was 27 and served two years in the Solomon Islands campaign during the Pacific War of World WWII. According to the NCDMA, Eaglin left the Marines but returned to active duty, earning his paratrooper wings when he joined the Army during the Korean War.

“Mr. Eaglin leaves a legacy of commitment, integrity, and lifelong service,” said Lt. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin,  USMC Ret., Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “His life changed the world for the better, and we are forever grateful for all the sacrifices he and his family have made for freedom and equality. He endured unimaginable obstacles in the segregated Marine Corps. I will always remember and admire his strength, resilience, and we honor his service to our country with appreciation for the inspiration he instilled in all of us.”

Boone, who passed away Aug. 20, was born on Sept. 29, 1927, in Englewood, New Jersey, and enlisted in the Marines to pay for college. According to his obituary, after his service, he attended Bates College, majoring in Government before working his way through Boston University Law School and serving as a Counsellor of Law for the State of New Jersey.