MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines and family members gathered during the Montford Point Day
Ceremony at Camp Johnson on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Aug. 25.
During the ceremony, three family members were presented a certificate
of recognition and a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of their
relatives who were members of the original Montford Point Marines.
Retired Maj. Will Smith, on behalf of Sherman Ray; Luther Rountree on
behalf of Rufus Candell Rountree; and retired Lt. Col. John Cassidy
Dockery, on behalf of Pvt. John Henry Dockery, received the certificates
“My grandfather was one of the original Montford Point Marines,” said
Smith. “That was kind of my inspiration for coming in the Marine Corps.
He never talked about it until the night before I came in, with stories
about how he trained here on Montford Point and how great the Marine
Corps was as an institution.”
The original Montford Point Marines entered boot camp at Montford Point
Camp in North Carolina in 1942, during a time and place where racism and
segregation were a part of everyday life.
“Of course color played a big part, but (Ray) didn’t allow that to hold
him back, so he overcame it,” said Smith. “That’s what he taught his
sons, daughters and grandkids: how to endure. That everything doesn’t
last forever, as long as you put your heart to it, you can get through
Sherman brought valuable lessons, but also inspired his family to serve the nation through military service.
“(The medal) means a lot because it shows our family legacy,” said
Smith. “Along with my grandfather, we’ve had individuals in our family
serve our nation. It solidifies our service to the nation.”
Along with his grandfather, Smith also served at Camp Johnson, with
several decades spanning between their service at Montford Point.
“To be back here is very instrumental because I knew this was the place
that my father came through boot camp,” said Smith. “I was able to get
promoted the first time here and the last time right on this same base.
It brought back some nostalgia and a lot of history to our family that
we can keep the legacy going.”
Camp Johnson now serves as Marine Corps Combat Service Support School,
training today’s Marines in personnel administration, ground supply,
logistics operations and water survival training but remnants of the
original Montford Point Camp remain throughout buildings and a museum.
“The ceremony today is payment to a debt that we can’t ever repay to the
Marines that came before us, but it is our way of showing respect for
them,” said Col. David P. Grant, MCCSSS commanding officer.