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Port Chicago 50

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Surname/tag: black_heritage
Profile manager: T Hall private message [send private message]
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US Black Heritage Project

See also: Space:Port Chicago Disaster, 17 Jul 1944

On July 17, 1944, a tragic explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine at Port Chicago, California, killed 320 sailors and civilians and injured 390 more. Roughly two-thirds of the victims were African-Americans.

The following month, hundreds of servicemen (many transported from Port Chicago) refused to load munitions at the nearby Mare Island Naval Shipyard due to safety concerns following the explosion. After three days of detention in the brig, 50 African-American servicemen continued to refuse to load munitions. In September the "Port Chicago 50" were charged with disobeying orders and making a mutiny, which carried penalties up to death.

All 50 were found guilty and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor followed by dishonorable discharge. The other 208 servicemen who initially refused to load munitions lost three months of pay.

However, 47 of the Port Chicago 50 were released in 1946 after the end of the war, and most were granted "discharges under honorable conduct." One member of the group, Freddie Meeks, received a Presidential pardon (1999).

Members of the Port Chicago 50

(Link pages when created, include in-line research notes)

Julius J. Allen

Mack Anderson

Douglas G. Anthony

William E. Banks (b. 1924)

Arnett Baugh (b. 1925)

Morris Berry (b. 1924, here but unsure if still living)

Martin A. Bordenave (b. 1925, history interview, from New Orleans, unsure if still living)

Ernest D. Brown

Robert L. Burnage

Mentor G. Burns

Zack Credle

Jack P. Crittenden

Hayden R. Curd

Charles L. David, Jr

Bennon Dees

George W. Diamond

Kenneth C. Dixon

Julius Dixon

John H. Dunn

Melvin W. Ellis

William Fleece

James Floyd

Ernest J. Gaines

John L. Gipson

Charles C. Gray

Ollie L. Green

Harry E. Grimes

Herbert Davis

Charles N. Hazzard

Frank L. Henry

Richard W. Hill

Theodore King

Perry L. Knox

William H. Lock

Edward L. Longmire

Miller Matthews

Augustus P. Mayor

Howard McGee

Lloyd McKinney

Alphonso McPherson

Freddie Meeks

Cecil Miller

Fleetwood H. Postell

Edward Saunders

Cyril O. Sheppard

Joseph R. Small

William C. Suber

Edward L. Waldrop

Charles S. Widemon

Albert Williams, Jr.

Research Sources

Wikipedia page

76th anniversary story with list of names

Dr. Robert Allen Port Chicago Papers

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Hey there, this is my first organized effort as a member of the U.S. Black Heritage Project. The Port Chicago disaster and the Port Chicago 50 happened in the Bay Area but is not well-known. My goal is to have sourced and connected profiles for all members of the Port Chicago 50 and to eventually build out profiles for the victims of the Port Chicago disaster.

USBH Project leaders: please let me know if I'm doing something sideways!

posted by T Hall
Hi T! This looks great. I added some categories to help people find your page. Let me check with Natalie about a category for these 50. Emma