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Rep. Napolitano Calls for Recognition of First African-American Marines

September 21, 2011
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano joined her fellow lawmakers in signing onto a congressional bill which would honor the Montford Point Marines, the first group of African-American Marines who were able to serve their country.

“The bravery and determination of these Marines is an inspiration to Americans of every background,” Napolitano said. “They overcame a system of prejudice to lead the way for all of the African-American Marines who came after them. I salute these heroes, and join my fellow lawmakers in asking that their memory be officially honored and recognized.”

If signed into law, bill HR 2447 would award a Congressional Gold Medal to those African American Marines who were trained at Montford Point and went on to fight on the frontlines of World War II.

On June 25, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 8802, opening the doors for the very first African American Marines to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. The first recruits were trained at Camp Montford Point, in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

More than 19,000 African-American Marines served during World War II, including some who fought in the pivotal battles for Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

Awarding a Congressional Gold Medal would recognize and honor those African-American Marines who have paved the way for all of those who serve in today’s military.