Harris M. Ginyard, one of the famed Montford Point Marines, dies at 93

Montford Point Marine Harris M. Ginyard, from Blackwood, New Jersey, sits for a portrait in Washington, D.C. June 27, 2012. The Montford Point Marines, the first African-Americans allowed to enlist in the Marine Corps, were honored in June 2012 with the Congressional Gold Medal. (U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo/Released)


By MELANIE BURNEY | Philly.com | Published: July 6, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (Tribune News Service) — Harris M. Ginyard, 93, a WWII veteran and member of the Montford Point Marines, died of pancreatic cancer at his home Wednesday, June 28.

Ginyard was among the first black Marines, about 400, who were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012. The group jumped at the chance to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1941 requiring the military to recruit African Americans.

“Not a lot impressed him, but that did,” recalled his son William.

He also received a special recognition award from former CIA Director David Petraeus in 2012.

After graduating from high school in 1942 in Winston-Salem, N.C., Ginyard enlisted in the Marines at age 18, his son said. He underwent basic training at the segregated Montford Point Camp in North Carolina, where black recruits trained under poor conditions. About 20,000 African Americans received basic training at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949, when the camp was closed.

He was sent to the Panama Canal and later Hawaii, where he was assigned to a unit that handled supplies, according to the Philadelphia Chapter of the Montford Point Marine Association. He accepted a position to run the commissary.

“Another proud Marine, as all these Montford Point Marines are,” said Joe Geeter, a former president of the Montford Point Marine Association. “He was a Marine through and through.”

Ginyard was discharged in 1945 and settled in West Philadelphia. He went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a porter and there met his future wife, who worked at a drugstore at 30th Street Station, their son said. He spent about 30 years at the railroad. For many years, Mr. Ginyard also worked a second job at Bell Telephone Co. in Philadelphia as a facilities manager.

“He loved God, he loved his family, and he loved the Marines,” said his son, William.

Mr. Ginyard was a member of the Philadelphia Montford Point Marine Association, St. Matthew’s Baptist Church in Williamstown, the Prince Hall Masons, and the Young and the Restless Club in Williamstown, a retirees’ social club.

Besides his son William, Mr. Ginyard is survived by sons Bobby, Harris, and Kevin; a daughter, Donna McLaughlin; 10 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren. His wife of 52 years, Evon, died in 2015.

Condolences may be left at www.mcgfuneral.com/obituaries/Harris-Ginyard/, and memorial donations may be made to the Montford Point Marine Memorial Project, 824 Gum Branch Rd, Suite M, Jacksonville, NC 28540 or visit www.montfordpointmarines.com.

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