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Frederick Branch became the first commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps on November 10, 1945. The Kappa man was born May 31, 1922 in Hamlet, N.C.

Branch attended high school in New York and attended college at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. before transferring to Temple University, where he eventually earned a degree in physics. Branch was drafted in 1943, and chosen to become a Marine. He was one of several African-American soldiers training in North Carolina collectively known as the Montford Point Marines.

After initially being denied entry into Officer Candidate School, Branch was admitted to the program on the back of a recommendation of a supervisor due to his performance during World War II. He was admitted into the Navy V-12 program at Purdue University, and was the only Black student in his class of 250 students. Branch excelled in the class, making the dean’s list, and was commissioned as second lieutenant on November 10, 1945. November 10 is also when the Marines were founded in 1775.

Branch entered the U.S. Marine Reserves ranks after World War II ended. He left the Corps in 1955 after achieving the rank of captain, and went on to become a science teacher at Dobbins High School in Philadelphia, establishing the school’s science department and working there until his retirement in 1988.

Captain Branch passed in 2005 at the age of 82.