MCA&F Helps Honor Montford Point Marines with Congressional Gold Medal Replicas
Marine Corps Base Quantico – Quantico, Virginia – The Marine Corps Association Foundation is proud to have led a coordinated effort to provide funding for 550 Congressional Gold Medal representation medals for every living Montford Point Marine veteran or their direct lineal descendants.
In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive giving African Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. These African Americans, from all states, were not assigned to the traditional boot camps of Parris Island, South Carolina and San Diego, California. Instead, they were segregated - experiencing basic training at the Montford Point Boot Camp - a facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Approximately twenty thousand (20,000) African American Marines received basic training at the Montford Point Boot Camp between 1942 and 1949.
Exceptional recruits were singled out to assist in the training of their own platoons. Mortimer A. Cox, Arnold R. Bostick, Edgar R. Davis, Jr., Gilbert H. “Hashmark” Johnson and Edgar R. Huff were selected for their leadership and maturity and became the Marine Corps first black drill instructors. These first drill instructors would join the staff to reinforce the training mission at Montford Point which was to develop African American Marines for support roles in the Corps, following graduation.
In July 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order #9981 ending segregation in the military. In September 1949, Montford Point Marine Camp was deactivated – ending seven years of segregation.
In recognition of their service, the Marines who trained at Montford Point will be honored with the highest civilian award granted by the U.S. Congress – the Congressional Gold Medal. Since the Revolutionary War, Congress has commissioned Gold Medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event. Congressional Gold Medals are awarded by acts of the Congress, with approval by both houses. All Congressional Gold Medals are created and issued by the United States Mint.
The original, gold medal will be presented to the Montford Point Marines at an invitation only ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on 27 June 2012 and later displayed for posterity at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.
On Thursday, 28 June, a representation medal, faithfully rendered in bronze, will be presented by General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, at a ceremony at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. Marines unable to attend the ceremony will receive their medals from a Marine Corps representative at their home or hospital.
On 14 June, Dr, James T. Averhart, Jr was present at the MCA&F offices in Quantico to accept the check for the replica medals from MCA&F. “They (MCA&F) stand on everything that they mean - they help. They help the organizations, another sister organization who really could not help themselves. So I’m proud of the opportunity to have them as a sponsor, to partner with them, to see how they do business and more so, to mimic what it is that they are doing in the Marine Corps Association for the Montford Point Marines Association." The presentation of the replica medals was made possible by the Marine Corps Association Foundation and Marine Corps Association & Foundation member, Mr. Manuel Carazo, in coordination with a donation from Marine Federal Credit Union and a matching grant from the Tawani Foundation. See the letter from Dr. Averhart to MCA&F Presidnet and CEO, MajGen Ed Usher
“The core of what we (MCA&F) do is advancing leadership and recognizing excellence and certainly the Montford Point Marines individually and collectively represent Marine Corps excellence," said MajGen Usher.
Since its founding in 1913, MCA’s mission has been to: Advance leadership by fostering the study of military art and science among Marines, recognizing their professional excellence and preserving the history and traditions of the United States Marine Corps. www.mca-marines.org
For additional information on the history of the Montford Point Marines and on the medal presentations, visit the Montford Point Marine Association website: http://www.montfordpointmarines.com/CGM%20Information%20page.html