GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Two local World War II veterans were honored Wednesday, in Gulfport. The men are also Montford Point marines. Montford Point is the first place African-American marines were ever trained. It was home to more than 19,000 men during basic training.
"It was at a time in America where the services were not integrated and it took several years, even decades later for U.S. Congress to actually recognize them with a congressional gold medal," said Congressman Steven Palazzo.
Palazzo presented the two Montford Point marines with a Medal of Honor at the World War II Memorial in downtown Gulfport. The honorees, George T. Watson and Samuel Walter Sylvester Jr., served in the United States Marine Corps during a dark time in our nation's history.
"I wrote back home and told my brothers and all, 'don't be in the Marine Corps', because it was pretty rough," said Sylvester.
Both men say it was an extremely difficult time in their lives that left them with memories they wish could be forgotten.
"My African-American military are at the highest ranks, and so I think that the effort has been put forth to rectify the wrongs that were done, and I'm not dwelling on the wrongs," said Watson.
Congressman Palazzo says as a marine veteran, he considers it an honor to recognize the service and lives of these men.
"These men sacrificed, built the same blood, fought the same enemy, endured the same sacrifices," said Palazzo.
If you know any Montford Point marines who have not yet been recognized, Palazzo encourages you to contact his office at 228-864-7670.