Photo Information

Lt. Gen. Willie Williams, director of Marine Corps staff, presents a Montford Point Marine with a bronze replica Congressional Gold Medal during a special ceremony at the historic parade grounds of Marine Barracks Washington June 28. In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive giving African Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. Between 1942 and 1949 approximately 20,000 African American Marines received basic training at the segregated Montford Point instead of the traditional boot camps of Parris Island, S.C. and San Diego, Calif. These men fought for their country with honor and valor that are hallmarks of the Corps, but they were not treated as equals to their white counterparts at the time. Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, set out to begin to right this wrong when he invited the Montford Point Marines to the Barracks Aug. 26, 2011 to be the guests of honor at a Friday Evening Parade, bringing their story to the national forefront and starting a chain of events that lead to this historic day.

Photo by Cpl. Jeremy Ware

Montford Point Marines honored at Marine Barracks Washington

28 Jun 2012 | Cpl. Jeremy Ware

 Approximately 400 Montford Point Marines received their bronze replica Congressional Gold Medals at a special ceremony held at Marine Barracks Washington June 28.

 The Montford Point Marines were presented the official gold medal, as an organization, during a ceremony held on the United States Capitol grounds a day earlier.

 The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded by Congress and is the highest civilian award in the nation. The award comes more than seven decades after the Montford Point Marines broke the militarie's last color barrier.

 “After taking a trip with SgtMaj. Kent, who was the 16th sergeant major of the Marine Corps, to a Montford Point Marine reunion at Camp Pendleton’s base theatre,” said Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps. “I walked out that day, not knowing the history of Montford Point Marines. I looked at SgtMaj. Kent and said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this.’ We are not done today; there are a host of things happening in the Marine Corps to anchor what (Montford Point Marines) have done for our Corps.”

 In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive giving African-Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. But the African-Americans who were recruited at that time would not train alongside their white counterparts. Instead a separate camp was established at Montford Point in North Carolina. The nearly 20,000 African-American Marines who trained there from its opening in 1942 to its closure in 1949 were not welcomed by the Corps. The African-American Marines of that era were met with open prejudice, segregation and mistreatment.

 Today’s ceremony was another step by the Corps to help recognize the numerous contributions made by the Montford Point Marines and ensure their legacy is not forgotten.

 “There are not words in my vocabulary or anyone else, to tell you the joys I feel with this medal,” said Stanley Porter, 1942 Montford Point graduate. “This day is marvelous, just marvelous.”