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Congressional Gold Medal ceremony held Saturday

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) – Family members of a veteran who served as a Montford Point Marine gathered for a ceremony to honor him Saturday morning.

But many of them got a big surprise when they found out what he was honored with.

“We are so honored to be here today to honor the service of my uncle Milton H. Martin Jr,” Donald Lovette said.

“If it wasn’t for Gunnery Sergeant Martin there wouldn’t be no us,” Tyrone Jackson, President, Beaufort Chapter of National Montford Point Marine Association said.

Gunnery Sergeant Martin, a Montford Point Marine served during WWII. The Montford Point Marines were established in 1942 in Jacksonville, NC. They were the first African Americans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corp.

“They were able to break down barriers so old Marines like me could come into the Marine Corp,” Jackson said.

“They were not treated kindly, they were not really wanted in the Marines and they thought they would fail. But they made their minds up that we were gonna pass and make it and they did,” Lovette said.

Family members of Gunnery Sergeant Martin Jr. say he never bragged about his military career. They say it wasn’t until they dug through his papers that they learned he was part of this inaugural group of men.

“We couldn’t believe he didn’t say anything about it, but Saturday the world knows that Mr. Martin Jr. was one of those Montford Point Marines.”

Family, state and local leaders watched as Gunnery Sergeant Martin Jr.’s daughter was presented with his award, one of the highest civilian awards of the United States.

“Because of what they did we stand here today and because of what they did America shares its freedom and I’m honored to be a part of that,” Lovette said.

A square on Veterans Memorial Walk at Bryant Commons Park was also dedicated to the family.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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