We support improving and enhancing the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, the site of the deadliest domestic explosion during World War II, and the exoneration of the sailors wrongly convicted of mutiny for refusing to resume work after the explosion without an improvement in their working conditions. Thousands of tons of ammunition exploded on the night of July 17, 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in the east San Francisco Bay area. The blasts instantly killed 320 sailors, wounded hundreds more, and damaged and destroyed merchant ships, the pier, a train, and the buildings of Port Chicago. Less than a month after the tragedy, three divisions were ordered to resume work at a new site a few miles away. Most of the men refused to continue their dangerous tasks until supervision, training, and working conditions were improved. In response, the Navy charged fifty men with conspiring to mutiny; all were convicted. The majority of the men killed while handling ordinance at Port Chicago, and all of those convicted of mutiny, were African-American. This injustice had clear racial implications, and was a turning point in our nation\'s history. Following the conviction, Thurgood Marshall, then a lawyer with the NAACP, took up the case. The Port Chicago disaster and its aftermath strongly influenced America\'s move towards racial equality, including the Navy\'s move toward desegregation in 1945, and President Truman\'s 1948 Executive Order desegregating the Armed Forces and guaranteeing \"equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.\"
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Peter F Cameron, United States2 years ago Comments: -
Linda (Franks) Northey, United States2 years ago Comments: I was born and raised in Port Chicago as was my mother (Nancy Skuba). She and my grandparents (Jim and Eva Skuba) were on a train heading to Nebraska the night of the explosion. My mother remembered seeing the eerie orange glow in the western horizon when the train pulled into Reno the night of July 17th. The next morning when they arrived in Salt Lake City and saw the newspaper headlines, my grandpa got on a train and headed back to Port Chicago to see if there was anything left of their house and his business, Port Chicago Iron & Metals. In 1968 my family relocated to Concord, CA, but Port Chicago will always hold a very special place in my heart. It is a very important historical site and the sacrifices the sailors made there for our country should never, ever be forgotten.
William Knight, United States2 years ago Comments: My father was at Port Chicago at the time of the incident and remembers it clearly. He has often told me the men who were court marshaled there received a raw deal from the Navy and the US government.
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