Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

Freddie Meeks: Port Chicago Oral History Project

Meeks, Freddie
Allen, Robert
Freddie Meeks: Port Chicago Oral History Project
Freddie Meeks was one of the fifty men charged with mutiny in 1944 after refusing to return to unsafe working conditions loading ammunition at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine after a massive explosion killed more than 300 sailors. He was originally a shipyard welder from Memphis and was drafted into the US Navy in 1943 during World War Two. Meeks was stationed in Port Chicago as a winch operator and was held at San Pedro federal prison for his mutiny conviction until his discharge in 1946. Meeks then moved to Los Angeles, where he started his family and returned to civilian work. In this interview, Meeks talks about the following topics: the dangerous working conditions and lack of training for loading ammunition; racism and segregation in the Navy during World War Two; the aftermath of the explosion on the base; poor treatment of the Port Chicago fifty in detention; the trial and appeals with Thurgood Marshall; and his civilian life and career after.
Subject area(s):
Community and Identity
Interview date(s):
Port Chicago
Copyright Freddie Meeks 1980