The first black U.S. Marines to enlist after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opened the door to their service in 1941 were honored collectively at the U.S. Capitol with a congressional gold medal June 27.
The medal honors the Montford Point Marines, so named because that is the location at which they trained near Jacksonville, N.C.
More than 19,000 blacks served in the Marines during World War II, and about 13,000 of them served overseas, including the 8th Ammunition Company and 36th Depot Company, which landed on Iwo Jima Feb. 19, 1945, and 2,000 who helped capture Okinawa.
According to the U.S. Mint, the medal’s obverse designed by United States Mint sculptor-engraver Michael Gaudioso features three Montford Point Marines in varying uniforms with an action scene from training filling the lower portion. Inscriptions are MONTFORD POINT MARINES, 1942 and 1949, the year the U.S. Marine Corps was integrated.
On the reverse by Mint sculptor-engraver Don Everhart are Montford Point Marines in formation during training with a well-known water tower in the background.
The medal is dated 2011.
Bronze duplicates are priced at $44.95 for the three-inch diameter version, or $7.95 for the 1.5-inch version. They can be ordered from the Mint’s website at www.usmint.gov, or by telephone at (800) USA-MINT.
A $4.95 shipping and handling charge is assessed on all orders.