AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
1st Black Officer In U.S. Marine Corps
Frederick C. Branch; Was 1st Black Officer In U.S. Marine Corps
By Matt Schudel
Frederick C. Branch, the first African American officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, died April 10 of an infection at a hospital in Philadelphia, where he lived. He was 82.
Two years after entering the Marines as an enlisted man, and after serving in the South Pacific during World War II, Mr. Branch completed Officer Candidate School as the only black student in a class of 250. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant Nov. 10, 1945, the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Marines.
It took an executive order in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to force the Marine Corps to admit African Americans to its ranks. Six other black candidates had entered the Marines' officer training program and had been eliminated, for one reason or another, before Mr. Branch received his commission.