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Honor of a lifetime
Montford Point Marine gets his Congressional Gold Medal
 
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 3:18 pm
by Chandra Broughton, For The Charlotte Post

Seventy years after he helped desegregate the Marine Corps, John Shadd has his Congressional Gold Medal.

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PHOTO/PAUL WILLIAMS III
John Shadd of Charlotte (left) was presented a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal Tuesday at University Place Nursing Home. Shadd, 88, is a Montford Point Marine, the first African Americans to desegregate the Corps in 1942.


Shadd, a Montford Point Marine, was presented a bronze replica of the nation’s highest civilian honor on Tuesday during a ceremony at University Place Nursing Home, where he has lived for three years. Nearly 400 Montford Point Marines traveled to Washington, D.C., in June for the formal presentation of the gold medal, but those who couldn’t make the trip – like Shadd, who has Alzheimer’s – merited individual presentations.


“I hope every one endures and do better the things we need to do,” said Shadd, 88.


The Marines’ gold medal will be on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia. The Montford Pointers join the ranks of honorees that include Continental Army General George Washington – the first recipient in 1776 – and Mother Teresa.


“I’m so proud, I can barely speak,” Shadd’s wife Legretta said. “John is so deserving of this and this award couldn’t have come at a better time for him.”


Shadd, a Charlotte native, one of 19,000 African Americans to train at Camp Montford Point, N.C., near the all-white Camp Lejeune. The Corps was the last branch of the military to desegregate via Executive Order 8802 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, opening the ranks to recruits of color in 1942.


The Montfort Pointers are not nearly as well known as all-black units like the Tuskegee Airmen or Buffalo Soldiers, yet their legacy is a cornerstone of the credo of every black Marine. The Montfort Point Marines persevered in an era when their services were not appreciated.
Shadd, who was born in 1924, joined the Marine Corps in 1943. He saw action in the Pacific theater, including the Allies’ taking of Okinawa, which is one of the last and most important battles of the war. 

A private first class, Shadd was honorably discharged in 1946 and went on to attend Johnson C. Smith University. He retired from the U.S. Postal service, after more than 40 years.

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