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  • 8 Mar 2023 7:29 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    “As the family of George Garlington Sr., we are proud to receive this honor on his behalf,” said Cecil Garlington to the audience gathered in the packed High Point Museum lecture gallery on Saturday. “I can just tell you that my father would be extremely proud if he was here. He would be overjoyed. Thank you very much for this honor.” 

    In 2011, President Barack Obama signed Public Law 112-59, an act to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines. That act means that every African-American man who trained at the segregated base in a swamp at Montford Point near Jacksonville, NC, between 1942 and 1949, and went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps, is eligible for this recognition.

    Unfortunately, of the approximately 20,000 men who trained at Montford Point, most of whom are now deceased, only about 3,000 have been identified. On Saturday, five more were added to the honors list.


    Craig Little (uniform) presents congressional gold medal to Cecil Garlington, Myrtle Garlington and Nora Garlington

    Cecil Garlington and his sisters Myrtle Garlington and Nora Garlington McAdoo were presented with a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal by Craig Little, Chapter President of the Montford Point Marine Association of Charlotte. 

    “The Congressional Gold Medal is only bestowed on an event that happened in American History,” said Little. “There have only been four African-American military events in that history. The Army has two: the Buffalo Soldiers and the Women’s World War 2 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The Air Force has the Tuskegee Airmen. And the United States Marine Corps has the Montford Point Marines.”

    At that, the Marine battle cry “Oohrah!” echoed through the 1,350 square foot lecture gallery, which Ward 5 Council Member and USMC Sergeant Victor Jones told the crowd he’d never seen so full before.

    Private First-Class George Henry Garlington Sr. enlisted on March 9, 1944, and was honorably discharged on Dec. 1, 1945. He resided in the Downing Street area of High Point and attended Mount Vernon Baptist Church. After the war, he returned to High Point and worked at Southern Railway for more than 40 years. He served as a Deacon and a Sunday School Superintendent at Mount Vernon Baptist Church and was President of First-Class George, the PTA at Leonard Street Elementary, and worked with the Democratic Party, the NAACP, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He died in High Point in 2005. His five children include retired Air Force Private First-Class George H. Garlington Jr., one of the William Penn High School students who staged the 1960 High Point Woolworth’s sit-in on Feb. 11, 1960.

    COVER-Montford Point Marines at Iwo Jima courtesy National Archives.JPG

    Montford Point Marines at Iwo Jima

    Upon receiving their official bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal, the Garlington family donated it to the High Point Museum. Also present, and recognized individually by name, were the families of four other deceased Montford Point Marines from High Point, who had all received their medals in 2017. The men recognized by those medals are:

    Corporal James R. Burke, Sr., who was drafted on March 9, 1944, and honorably discharged on May 13, 1948. Corporal Artra Gilmore Sr., who enlisted on April 5, 1944, and was honorably discharged on May 17, 1946. Corporal Darius Thaxter McCoy, who enlisted on Dec. 13, 1943, and was honorably discharged in May 1946. Private William M. Spencer Jr., who enlisted on Nov. 4, 1943, and was honorably discharged on July 25, 1945. 

    Jones read aloud the following proclamation, which was signed by Mayor Jay W. Wagner, but which Jones said “we all worked on.”

    WHEREAS, the opportunity for African Americans to enlist and serve in the United States Marine Corps arose in June 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 prohibiting racial discrimination in the United States Defense Industry; and 

    WHEREAS, despite discrimination and segregation approximately 20,000 African American men completed recruit training and became known as the Montford Point Marines; and

    WHEREAS, The Montford Point Marines displayed valor and exemplary performance during battles such as Peleliu Battle, Iwo Jima Battle, the Chosin Reservoir Battle; and

    WHEREAS, Public Law 112-59 was by the United States Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in 2011 to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Honor the Montford Point Marines; and

    WHEREAS, the Montford Point Marines of High Point, NC assisted in the advancement of civil rights by paving the way for thousands of others to follow despite facing adversity and hardships; their strengths and perseverance to serve our Nation embodied the true spirit of Patriotism.

    THEREFORE, as a grateful city, I, Jay W. Wagner, Mayor of the City of High Point, urge the citizens of High Point, NC, to join me in recognition of the contributions of the Montford Point Marines of High Point, NC to our nation and communities in which they reside.

    “We are especially thankful for the families, and that you are here to be a part of and witness to this grand event,” said Rev. Angela Roberson, Pastor of Congregational United Church of Christ, who explained how the names of the veterans were discovered and recognized.

    “I have a paternal aunt who was married to a Marine on the board of the Montford Point Association in the Jacksonville Onslow County area, and we were having a conversation, and after I got off the phone with her, it just kind of clicked. Were there any High Point men who served as Montford Point Marines?”

    Roberson said she got in touch with Russ Ditzel, Coordinator of Military Veterans & Families Outreach at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, who in turn put her in touch with Gunnery Sergeant Tammy Williamson, USMC (Retired), who is Chapter President of the National Montford Point Marine Association Inc. NC Triad-Triangle Chapter 18 and Vice-Commander of the North Carolina Veteran’s Council. “Then I called my friend and local historian Phyllis Bridges, and we put together a committee and began to work to make this happen,” which they did with help of Jones. 

    “We are so honored that you are here,” said Roberson. “Because what they did was historical, impactful, and significant. Other Marines stand on their shoulders. It is Black History and is American History.”

    When it was Williamson’s turn to speak, she became emotional.

    “About three minutes before the program started, a gentleman came up to me and showed me a platoon picture of his grandfather. He just found out about the program this morning and he had to come because his grandfather was a Montford Point Marine. He’s from High Point, and of course we have to do the proper process, but the reason I bring this to your attention is because he just brought it home. Through this process, we round one, and we’re going to do the paperwork for another. They’ve only found roughly over 3,000, but that’s huge. Seventeen thousand more to go. We’re on a countdown.”

    COVER-Training at Montford Point courtesy National Archives.jpg

    Training at Montford Point

    Williamson pointed out that the men trained at Montford Point were not the first Black Marines in American history. She cited John Martin, also known as Keto, an enslaved African-American who in April 1776 joined the Continental Marines without the knowledge of the white man who claimed to own him, and served aboard the USS Reprisal until that Continental Navy vessel was sunk in 1777, with only the cook surviving. 

    “Of roughly 2,000 continental Marines, about 13 were African-American. But that’s the keyword, Continental.” 

    In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation allowed Black men into the Union Army and the Navy, but the Marine Corps excluded them until President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 in 1941, which Williamson called “a very, very important act that allowed African-Americans to enlist. But understand this, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Marine Corps was the last military branch to allow Blacks to enter, the last one.”

    “I’ve heard some Montford Point Marines say, ‘I went up there to sign up for the Army, and they said no, I was in line for the Marine Corps. I’ve also heard them say ‘after I joined, I thought people would look at me differently in my uniform, I thought they would accept me now.’ I’ve also heard them say ‘I had to fight for the right to fight.’ Think about it. Who in the world has to fight for the right to fight?”

    Retired USMC Gunnery Sergeant Madyun Shahid then walked among the audience members reciting a dramatic monolog taken from the testimony of Marines who had first joined the Corps at Montford Point and trained there between 1942 and 1949, when Montford Point Camp was decommissioned after President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 ended military segregation.

    He then described how one wrote a letter to his wife explaining what he was willing to sacrifice, and she wrote back “I love you, make us proud.” 

    “After that,” wrote the unnamed Marine whose words Shahid was reciting, “the 20th field depot company landed on D-Day. It took us a minute to establish a foothold. They previously told us before we even left the ship, ‘you are the first Negros to see combat in the Marine Corps. What you do and how you perform will be the basis on how you and your race will be judged.’ We performed excellently. And then it was on to Peleliu. It was the 7th Ammunition and 11th Field Depot that joined that bloody battle, and whether they were unloading the ship, carrying ammunition to the front line, or evacuating the wounded, their performance warranted the highest praise.”

    After that, recited Shahid, “all four of the Montford Point Companies served on Iwo Jima, where I was told the fighting was wild and crazy at night time, but by morning, two Black Marines, Private James Whitlock and James Davis, earned the Bronze Star.” Finally, over 2,000 Montford Point Marines saw combat at Okinawa, where he quoted one as saying, “if I could do this all over again, I would still do it as a Montford Point Marine.”

    If you know of a veteran who could be a Montford Point Marine, whether alive or deceased, and they have not yet been officially recognized and honored as such, email or call (336)684-5524. For more information, visit


    Ian McDowell is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed o

  • 8 Mar 2023 7:27 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    Five Marines from High Point will be recognized by the city council and a local museum for their service, and for their roles in breaking the race barrier in the military.

    Racial discrimination in the military was banned in 1941. But the Black Marine recruits who began training the following year at Montford Point in North Carolina faced segregation and brutal conditions.

    Tammy Williamson served in the Marines and now oversees the Triad and Triangle division. She says her work honoring these men is more urgent than ever.

    “A lot of them have left this world not knowing the impact the impact they had," she said. "We’re looking at they’re in their 90s now. So, that’s why it’s so important that we reach as many people as we can because the onesies and twozies that are still living, they’re slipping away each day.”

    On February 25th at the High Point Museum, five High Point marines will be celebrated: Private William Spencer Sr., Corporal James R. Burke Sr., Corporal R. Gilmore Sr., Private First Class George H. Garlington Sr., and Corporal Darious McCoy.

  • 22 Mar 2021 11:15 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    Virtually—February 27, 2021 The National Montford Point Marine Association, Inc.  NC Triad-Triangle Chapter 38 & Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Durham presents “All Service Has Purpose “ Essay Contest. It was well represented by different veteran nonprofit organizations along with several highlighted events such as the guest speaker Lieutenant General Walter Gaskin USMC (Ret) Secretary, NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, special appearance from The Honorable  Theodore Britton Jr. who is a Montford Point Marine and also served as a Ambassador to Barbados and Grenada . Mr. Adam Watkins of East Chapel Hill School did a wonderful rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech, 14 year old singing sensation Keedron Bryant of Florida, who became popular singing the song “I just wanna live”.

     Adio Oluwafunmilayo, 11th grade,  City of Medicine Academy of Durham, NC  was the first place winner and the winner of $300.00. All the contestants will receive $30 Walmart gift cards. This is her essay: All Service has Purpose

    1). What do you think he meant by that?

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived out his days helping others in various ways. When he wasn’t helping his congregation he would assist the nation. Regardless of his significant achievements, Dr. King still valued the services of everyday people. Dr. King was rarely seen without other people by his side and together, they changed the lives of African Americans and other marginalized groups in the United States. The thing is, Dr. King never decided who he would work with based on positions of power; he socialized with people from all walks of life. Dr. King used his life as an example for all mankind, and by examining his life, we can truly see what he meant when he said “All service has purpose”. All people, great and small, make important contributions to society when they help others. Because of this, we should all be eager to lend a hand wherever we can.

    2). How could that be related to your life?

    Rather than just tell you this, allow me to share a story with you:

    I met Morgan when I was 7. My mom was Morgan’s caregiver and she brought her to our home unannounced. Morgan was the first disabled person I saw face to face, so my first instinct was to run. Morgan’s reaction was nicer than mine. She smiled and laughed at me and after some convincing from my mom, I inched towards her. Morgan wasn’t as scary as I thought. She touched me gently while maintaining her smile, and I felt a connection right away. Morgan started hanging out with me and my family every day soon after.

    Morgan had down syndrome and other health issues from an accident. She needed help eating most days and she wanted to be comforted others. I started mimicking my mom as she assisted her. Caring for Morgan never felt like a chore. I loved Morgan, and even though she wasn’t able to talk, I know she loved me too.

    Morgan needed surgeries from time to time so that she could live as independent a life as possible. I had a routine for whenever Morgan would have a surgery. I would pray and wait for her to come back from the hospital and when she came back we would take things slow until she regained her strength. One day Morgan got hurt after a recent surgery. I prayed and waited for her to come back, but I never saw her again. My mom wasn’t the first person to tell me when Morgan died. Her family published her obituary in a local newspaper and I happened to get my hands on it. I lost a piece of myself that day.

    I’ve been missing Morgan for a long time, but I made peace with her death by maintaining what brought us together. The years I spent assisting Morgan were amazing and I gained so much from our relationship. Serving her made me feel whole, it gave me a purpose. Morgan’s life, along with Dr. King’s, taught me that it doesn’t matter how big or small your impact is, the things we do in life for others are always important. One day, I hope I’ll see Morgan again and meet Dr. King so I can tell them about the lives I impacted. As for now, I’ll continue to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps and change the world every chance I get.

  • 22 Mar 2021 7:33 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    By Bryan Mims, WRAL reporter

    FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Three-quarters of a century after serving in the Marines, a North Carolina veteran is about to receive a prestigious award.

    Samuel Boyd, 93, was a member of the Montford Point Marines, the first Blacks in the Marine Corps.

    "I was floored," his son, Derrick Boyd, said of learning about his father being part of the historic group.

    A decade ago, President Barack Obama decreed that all Montford Point Marines would be awarded a collective Congressional Gold Medal.

    Samuel Boyd is expected to receive a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal this weekend.

    Blacks weren't allowed to enlist in the Marines before World War II, but President Franklin Roosevelt signed an order ending racial discrimination in the military.

    Black Marine recruits were segregated and trained at Montford Point, near Camp Lejuene.

    "They paved the way," said Derrick Boyd, who joined the Marines himself and now serves as a Fayetteville police officer.

    "My father was in the Corps, and my heart was just driven to go into the Corps," he said. "It was just something about the Corps that spoke to me, 'Hey, this is where you belong.'"

    An 18-year-old Samuel Boyd left his hometown of Belhaven and joined the Marines as the war was ending.

    "Matter of fact, the same day he went in is the same day they dropped the [atomic] bomb on Hiroshima," his son said. "He did want to serve."

    He served as a military police officer in the Pacific.

    But Samuel Boyd didn't talk much about his time in the Marines when he returned to North Carolina.

    "He was a very private man from everything I can tell. It wasn't something he wanted to talk about," said Donna Pelham, a professor at Methodist University in Fayetteville and a member of the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission.

    Pelham helped Derrick Boyd get the documents together for his father's medal.

    "Most of these Marines who went through Montford Point didn't want to talk about it. It wasn't necessarily a pleasant experience for them."

    Derrick Boyd learned his father was a Montford Point Marine only after Samuel Boyd suffered a stroke two weeks ago. The son found a military identification card as he tried to get his father admitted to the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Fayetteville.

    "That was something to find out – that my pa was actually one of the ones that paved the way," Derrick Boyd said. "[That's] groundbreaking stuff, groundbreaking news."

    Between 1942 and 1949, when the military was integrated, about 20,000 Black men became Montford Point Marines. In 2016, a public memorial was dedicated to them at Camp Lejuene.

    "They made it through it, and they were glad to make it through, because they had to excel at that time. They couldn't go through and be a failure, if you will," Derrick Boyd said.

    "Pop, the day has finally come," he told his father on the phone Friday, showing him a photo of the medal as he stood outside the veterans home.

    "He needs to be honored," Pelham said. "He's a hero and a civil rights pioneer."

  • 14 Mar 2021 11:55 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    written by Helen Cooper on March 4, 2021. The promotion could set Col. Anthony Henderson on a path to becoming the first Black four-star Marine general. Only 25 African-Americans in the Marines have reached general in any f

    WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps is promoting Col. Anthony Henderson, a combat-tested Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, to brigadier general, a move that cracks the doorway for the service to potentially promote an African-American to its most senior ranks.

    The Marine Corps, which had passed over Colonel Henderson for four years, has placed him on a highly selective list of nine colonels to be granted a coveted one star that denotes general rank status — brigadier general. The list, which was signed by President Biden, arrived Wednesday evening at the Senate Armed Services Committee, to start the required confirmation process, according to the committee’s website.

    Normally, such promotions would not garner much attention. But Colonel Henderson is a Black man with combat command experience in a service — the Marines — that has never, in its 245-year history, had a four-star officer who was not a white man. And even the one-, two- and three-star Marine Corps officer positions are predominantly white and male — particularly the ones in the combat specialties that feed the four-star ranks.

    If Colonel Henderson is confirmed by the Senate, he will become the rare Black general with a shot of getting all the way to the top.

    “Tony Henderson has the potential to be the commandant of the Marine Corps,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, the first Black man to command the First Marine Division, from 2011 to 2013. “He’s an individual who will work above and beyond what is required. This is well overdue.”

    Colonel Henderson’s nomination for promotion comes at a fraught time for the American military as a whole, and for the Marines in particular.

    The Pentagon, which for the first time has a Black secretary of defense, is facing a reckoning on race after the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol laid bare the deep inroads that extremist groups have made into the American military, both active duty and retired: A number of the Capitol rioters with ties to extremist groups also have ties to military service.

    This has been the case with the Marine Corps. Senior Defense Department officials who have pored over videos from the Capitol riots have noted that Marine Corps flag were among the Confederate battle flags and QAnon symbols displayed during the anti-government protests.

    One of the first things Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III did after assuming the helm of the Pentagon was to order up a service-wide “Stand Down” to address extremism in the military. The term is used in the military to refer to an issue — in the past it was safety or sexual assault or suicide — that the defense secretary decided was important enough that it needs to be addressed through discussions with troops worldwide.

    Colonel Henderson, 53, was passed over three times for brigadier general. In 2019, the Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer, even added a handwritten recommendation to Colonel Henderson’s candidacy.

    But each time, the promotion board demurred, and instead forwarded slates made up primarily of white men.

    Current and former Marines pointed to Colonel Henderson’s tendency to speak his mind as an explanation for why he was passed over in the past, but those are traits that have not disqualified white Marine colonels. The Marine Corps’ decision to add Colonel Henderson to its list of brigadier generals followed an examination of his career by The New York Times.

    Critics of how the Marine Corps has handled its Black officers say the service has a race problem that is rooted in decades of resistance to change.

    The Marines have long cultivated a reputation as the nation’s toughest fighting force, but it remains an institution where a handful of white men command 185,000 white, African-American, Hispanic and Asian men and women.

    Since the Corps first admitted African-American troops in 1942, the last military service to do so, only 25 have obtained the rank of general in any form. Not one has made it to the top four-star rank, an honor the Marines have, so far, bestowed solely on white men — 72 of them.

    Six African-Americans reached lieutenant general, or three stars. The rest have received one or two stars, the majority in areas such as logistics and transportation and communications, specialties that, unlike combat arms, rarely lead into the most senior leadership.

    The news that Colonel Henderson, along with another Black Marine — Col. Ahmed T. Williamson, the military assistant to the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps — had made the cut for brigadier general lit up the telephone and text lines of Black Marines stationed around the world.

    The African-American Marines said they were happy for Colonel Williamson, whose background is communications, but added that they were ecstatic for Colonel Henderson because he comes from the combat arms background that can lead to four stars.

    But some also expressed anger that the pace of advancement for Black officers in the Corps has been so slow.

    “Tony Henderson should have gotten selected last year,” said Milton D. Whitfield Sr., a retired Marine gunnery sergeant who served for 21 years. “Or the year before that. Or the year before that. He is who the Marine Corps should want up there — someone who will speak truth to power.”

    Colonel Henderson declined to be interviewed for The Times article last August, and had not been reached for comment Thursday morning. His promotion has already led to some chatter among members of the Marine Corps that the attention generated by The Times article prompted a promotion process to finally approve his nomination.

    But both Black and white Marines who have worked with him say such speculation ignores one fact: Colonel Henderson, who has a law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, La., and who has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is, in the words of Mr. Spencer, the former Navy secretary, to a 2019 promotion board, an “eminently qualified Marine we need now as BG.”

    Colonel Henderson led Marines through intense fighting in the Garmsir District known as Jugroom Fort in Afghanistan in 2008. Marines commanded by Colonel Henderson during those fierce days and nights say he stood out like an action figure.

    One story about Colonel Henderson from that time has already become the stuff of legend among the Marines who fought beside him in Garmsir.

    They recall the time that Colonel Henderson, after losing radio contact, climbed to the top of a local house to look for his Marines, drew fire from the Taliban, and did a “combat roll” flip off the roof to avoid a rocket-propelled grenade, landing on his feet on the ground. That story electrified Marines fighting in Afghanistan at the time, and has been told and retold.

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