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    Awarding the past



    Story by Lance Cpl. Kevin Ferguson 

    Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, attended a National Naval Officers Association meeting, Aug. 2, where he proposed that Congress honor the Montford Point Marines with a Congressional Gold medal.

    The medal is the highest civilian award given by the U.S. Congress to any individual who performs a distinguished act which helps the security, prosperity and national interest of the United States.

    From 1942-1949 Montford Point, now Camp Johnson in Camp Lejeune, N.C., was a segregated recruit training facility separate from the traditional West and East Coast Recruit Depots.

    “[The first black Marines] had one thing in common about their entry and training into the Marine Corps, they all went through Montford Point, it was the beginning and it was hard,” said Amos.

    The Senate approved the Montford Point Marines Day last year to honor the Montford Point Marines, Aug. 26, the first day black recruits began to train.

    This year at the 8th and I Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., a ceremony will be held to honor the Montford Point Marines as they get the opportunity to participate in the parade.

    The Montford Point Marines Day was a project proposed by the Montford Point Marine Association, and included a monument in honor for their sacrifices.

    “The original Montford Point Marines are slowly dissipating, so it is important for new blood to take leadership roles in the organization and keep the legacy alive,” said Elijah Abram, the local supply chief and a former vice president of the MPMA.

    The organization does not discriminate against gender or race and is open to all veterans. The majority of MPMA members are enlisted Marines and officers including the original Montford Point Marines, the Corps’ commandant and the Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett.

    According to The Associated Press, Amos said his goal was to cement the role of the Montford Point Marines in the Corps’ 235-year history. His efforts are part of a broader goal in diversifying the military’s smallest branch and sharing the legacy of black Marines.

    “In recruit training, we never learned anything about black Marines such as Gilbert ‘Hashmark’ Johnson,” said Abram. “There are so many unheard stories of the things the Montford Point Marines had to go through such as fighting segregation while serving through World War II.”

    Decades later, the Marine Corps has grown, now teaching recruits about black Marines such as Annie E. Gillard and James Anderson Jr.

    For more information on the Beaufort chapter, contact Elijah Abram at 228-7676 or visit www.montfordpointmarines.com



    Date Taken: 08.02.2011
    Date Posted: 08.11.2011 13:46
    Story ID: 75185
    Location: BEAUFORT, SC, US 

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