Carey G. Sims, 87, fought racial prejudice in the Marines

Posted: March 27, 2014

WHEN CAREY SIMS was drafted into the Marine Corps in 1943, the last thing he wanted to hear were the words - probably of a well-meaning drill sergeant - "I'm going to make you a good Marine!"

For one thing, he had to leave his high school sweetheart, Martha Brown. For another, he knew, or shortly discovered, that the Marines didn't want him.

There was no way a black man could train with the Marines at Parris Island or Camp Lejeune, which turned out the "few good men" whom the Marines bragged about producing.

The American armed forces were strictly segregated. But the Marines were stymied because President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed an executive order that banned race-based exclusion from employment in the military and defense industries.

And so, the Marines hit upon an idea: They would train their black recruits at a special, isolated base in Jacksonville, N.C., called Montford Point.

Never mind that the barracks were crumbling and the base was infested with snakes and bugs. It was there that the likes of Carey Sims were sent to become "good Marines."

And, despite unrelenting racial prejudice and disparity of accommodations, they did.

Carey G. Sims, who, with other Montford Point Marines, was recognized for service to this country at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in 2012, and given a belated medal, a U.S. Postal Service worker and devoted churchman, died March 14. He was 87 and lived in Southwest Philadelphia.

At the Washington ceremony, Carey was among the 400 surviving Montford Point Marines (out of about 2,000) given the Congressional Gold Medal.

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said: "These men served in battle, provided critical supplies to those on the front lines and evacuated the wounded to safety. They did their jobs with professionalism and ably proved their courage in epic battles of the Pacific, like Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

"Their legacy of courage and perseverance is an inspiration to all Marines."

One of the tough drill sergeants who trained the Montford Point Marines was the late Cecil B. Moore, who later became a Philadelphia lawyer, civil-rights firebrand and City Councilman.

By the way, Carey's high school flame, Martha Brown, waited for him. They were married July 18, 1951.

In 2008, Carey published a book, Close to God, about his life and his faith. It was cherished by family and friends.

"It was a work dear to his heart where he put many hours into its creation," his family said.

Carey was born in Dovesville, S.C., to Inell Sims Delotch. He was raised by his grandmother, Constance Lord, who encouraged him to become active at church.

He graduated from Mayo High School in Darlington, S.C., and had just started studies at Paine College in Augusta, Ga., when he was drafted.

After the war, he joined the Postal Service, from which he retired in 1985. After his retirement, he was available to spend time looking out for his beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Carey joined Mt Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church in 1952 and was ordained a deacon in 1992. He served as chairman of the Deacon Board, sang on the Tabernacle Choir and was a member of the Men's Ministry.

"His faith and dedication to God and his church continued until the very end," his family said.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Kimberly Brickle; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Services: Were Saturday.

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