A Congressional Gold Medal was collectively awarded to the Montford Point Marines in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country during World War II as the first Black Marines.
In June of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 8802 establishing the Fair Employment Practices Commission and opening the doors for the first Black men to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.
The first Black recruits were trained at Montford Point in Jacksonville, North Carolina. From 1942 to 1949, 21,609 Black recruits completed basic training at the segregated Montford Point facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. 12,738 Black Marines served overseas during World War II, primarily assigned to combat support units – ammunition or depot supply companies. Although there were two combat units, the 51st and 52nd defense battalion units, it was the depot and ammunition companies that actually saw battle and fought Japanese troops admirably in Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The obverse design of the medal features three Montford Point Marines with a training scene included in the lower portion. The inscriptions include “Montford Point Marines” and the years “1942” and “1949”. This was designed and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso.
On the reverse is a scene of Montford Point Marines in formation during training with the signature water tower in the background. The main inscription reads “For Outstanding Perseverance and Courage that Inspired Social Change in the Marine Corps” with “2011 Act of Congress” in the lower portion. The reverse was designed and sculpted by Don Everhart.
You can learn more about commemorative currency in our Coins, Medals and Medallions collection and our For The Love Of Money: Blacks On US Currency Exhibition.
Source: US Mint