- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Frederick Clinton Branch, the first black man commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps, died April 10 at Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia. He was 82.

Mr. Branch’s wartime service on a merchant ship in the Pacific helped earn him a spot in Officer Candidate School. He was made a lieutenant of the Marine Corps on Nov. 10, 1945, the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Marines.

Mr. Branch previously had been rejected for a spot in Officer Training School, and was instead drafted in 1942, while he was a student at Temple University.

He had been striving for a Marine commission after doing well on an officer candidatetraining admissions test. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned racial discrimination in government agencies, Mr. Branch and several other blacks entered the school.

Mr. Branch was the only black in the graduating class of 250.

He later served at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Quantico, Va., which named a training building after him.

“I was the [commanding officer] of an all-white platoon. I went by the book, and trained and led them. They responded like Marines do to their superiors,” Mr. Branch once told the magazine Marines.

He retired from active duty in May 1952 and founded the science department at Dobbins High School in North Philadelphia, where he taught for 35 years.

Mr. Branch was born in Hamlet, N.C., and earned a physics degree from Temple in 1947. He and his wife, who died in 2000, had no children.

He is expected to be buried at Quantico with full military honors.

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