The 1600-acre tract that comprises Camp
Johnson was originally known as Montford Point, named after Colonel James
Montford, a civil war veteran whose family actually traces back to the American
Revolution. In January 1941, the Marine Corps acquired the land to establish
the Marine Barracks New River.
On 26 April 1942, Montford Point was opened
under the command of Colonel Samuel A. Woods and a select group of enlisted
staff noncommissioned officers (SNCO's). This group of SNCO's were known as the
"Special Enlisted Staff." Their mission was to set up the camp and
then function as drill instructors for the new recruits. The first black Marine
recruits were selected for their leadership and demonstrated maturity for they
would be the backbone of the black SNCO/Drill Instructor core. Nearly 20,000
African-American recruits were trained at Montford Point until 1949, when the
U. S. military was fully integrated.
One of the most famous of the black recruits
was Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson. Private Johnson would eventually
become a drill instructor at Montford Point and later become the Sergeant
Major. On 10 April 1974, Montford Point was renamed Camp Johnson in honor of
Sergeant Major Johnson.
The entrance to Camp Johnson is the site of
the Beirut Memorial, the North Carolina Veterans Cemetery, and the Vietnam
Memorial. The Beirut Memorial was constructed in remembrance of the 273
Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors who lost their lives in Beirut and Grenada in
Today Camp Johnson is the home of Marine
Corps Combat Service Support Schools (MCCSSS) which consists of four MOS
producing schools, four tenant commands and one other Marine Corps O6 level
Command who reports to the Commanding General of Training Command, Field
Medical Training Battalion-East (FMTB-E). Many of the original buildings can
still been seen today aboard Camp Johnson, for example the present day Chapel
was also the Chapel then.