Michigan State University

May 16, 2016 : Black Marine Honored for WWII Service

Jon Harrison
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A 90-year-old veteran was honored Tuesday more than 70 years after becoming one of the first African-Americans to join the U.S. Marines.

A smiling John Willie Jordan of Farmington — on a walker and proudly sporting his original green military campaign hat — was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township.

The medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, Peters noted as he handed the boxed medal to Jordan in a ceremony in the basement of the Groves-Walker American-Legion Post 346 on Grand River.

“I thought I had been forgotten,” Jordan said after the ceremony, adding he had unfortunately lost track of many of his fellow Marines in recent years.

“I don’t think any of them are around anymore ... I don’t know if they are alive or dead.”

Between 1942 and 1949 about 20,000 African-Americans, such as Jordan, trained at Camp Montford Point, a segregated facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina, outside Camp Lejeune where only the white recruits were allowed to train and live. African-American recruits were not permitted to even visit Camp Lejeune without a white Marine escort.

In July 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed an order abolishing racial discrimination in the armed forces which eventually led to the end of segregation in the services.

For the full article, see Mike Martindale, "Black Marine honored 7 decades after he served country", Detroit News, May 16, 2016

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