Posthumous Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Montford Point Marine

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

A Montford Point Marine and World War II veteran, Pfc. Charles Robert Fountain, posthumously received the Congressional Gold Medal, Jan. 27, 2017 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The medal was awarded to Fountain’s daughter, Kim Fountaine, by Lt. Gen. William D. Beydler, commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

Charles Fountain was part of the Montford Point Marines, a group of African-American Marines who swore to protect the U.S. during World War II.

At their time of enlistment, these Marines were segregated and received their recruit training at Montford Point, near Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. From 1942-1949, approximately 20,000 African-American Marines were trained there.

“The impact of the Montford Point Marines goes well beyond the Marine Corps, and reaches much further out than eastern North Carolina,” said Beydler. “It should be clear from what we’ve seen and what we know that these Marines led a sweeping change of our nation.”

The Montford Point Marines were able to prove they were willing to fight for a country and a military, which at the time, didn’t want them serving.

“These Marines carved their place in the history of the Corps, because they had to fight in order to fight,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Charles Jackson, an assistant security manager assigned to MARCENT. “In battle, they would have to carry the wounded, the very ones who wanted them segregated, back to safety.”

However, in 1948, President Harry S. Truman abolished segregation in the armed forces, and one year later, Montford Point was deactivated.

In 1965, a group of Montford Point Maries reunited, and established the Montford Point Marine Association, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “preserve the legacy” of the first black Marines to serve. The organization developed a creed that reads as follows; “To promote and preserve the strong bonds of friendship born from shared adversities and to devote ourselves to the furtherance of these accomplishments to ensure more peaceful times.”

“My father was so proud to be a Montford Point Marine, and he spoke about it often,” said Fountaine. “Thank you to everyone who made this happen, thank you to the Marine Corps, and Semper Fi.”