JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- From 1942 to 1949, more than 23,000 African American marine recruits were trained at Camp Montford Point. Vincent Calhoun and Leroy Jones, both from Jacksonville, were among them.
"It was pretty rough," said Mr. Jones. "But you know, we endured hardships and everything else. With the training we had, we knew how to come through it."
It was a segregated training camp located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. African American Marines were allowed to fight alongside white Marines, but they were not allowed to train with them.
Fortunately, those days are gone. And to honor those veterans for what they had to endure, Mr. Jones and Mr. Calhoun were presented with Congressional Gold Medals Thursday at City Hall.
Representatives Ander Crenshaw and Corrine Brown were instrumental in getting the legislation passed to get the two men their medals.
"I just simply want to say thank you," said Rep. Crenshaw. "It's great to be in the company of heroes."
"God has blessed America by giving us these Montford Point Marines," added Representative Brown.
And with their families by their sides, Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Jones humbly accepted their medals.
Mr. Jones said, "Oh, I feel great right now. Glad to be accepted as a Montford Point Marine."
Officials say they want to recognize each Montford point Marine. They know the numbers are dwindling, but they also know there are more out there. If you know one, you're asked to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at (904) 630-3680, or contact the VA online