FORT FISHER, NC (WECT) - The 54th Coast Artillery regiment was stationed at the Fort Fisher firing center for a month in 1941 where they fired 155mm tractor-drawn guns for the first time.
The unit was activated at Camp Wallace, Texas in February 1941. They were shipped to Camp Davis in Holly Ridge in May of that year and was only one of three African American units to train there at the time.
The entire regiment was assigned to Fort Fisher when they were ready for live firing exercises. The men trained on numerous weapons, from the Anti-Aircraft machine guns and artillery pieces to the personal weapons like the M-1Grand, placed at Fort Fisher.
"Although the 54th is a harbor defense regiment, concerned primarily with defending coastal points from attacks by hostile ships, it carries equipment to slave off ground and air attacks," an article from the Afro-American stated in 1941.
According to John Moseley with the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, the 1st Battalion was ordered to San Francisco in late Feb. 1942 and the 3rd Battalion followed not long afterward.
The 2nd Battalion were ordered to Fort Macon in late July and stayed there until early September. They were then ordered to ship out to the Southwest Pacific.
Moseley said the 54th was reorganized April 19, 1944 and by August 1944, the 1st and 3rd Battalions were inactivated. The 2nd Battalion was re-designated 49th CA (155 mm Gun) battalion at this time.