NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Before the start of World War II, Black men were allowed to join segregated units in the Amry and the Navy, but they were not welcome in the Marine Corps. An executive order from former President Roosevelt ended that discrimination in 1941.

“My dad was 18 when he was serving. Very young man, but this is what he wanted to do,” said Ann Wills, the daughter of Lloyd Wills.

Lloyd was a Monford Point Marine, named for the place in North Carolina where the first Black men to sign up had to first build their own training camp.

It was only recently, long after her father’s death, that Anne learned some of what her father and his fellow Black recruits endured.

“Literally, Monford Point was carved out of Camp Lejeune. So, they built their own barracks. They built their own latrines. They had to do all of this work themselves. But they were determined to serve. They wanted to go overseas. They wanted to serve their country,” said Anne.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Monford Point Marines were deployed to the Pacific. Lloyd served in Guam.

But unlike the famous Tuskegee airmen, the Monford Point Marines’ role in breaking the color barrier has gone mostly unacknowledged.

On Nov. 13, the families of seven Black men from New Orleans will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in their honor, an honor shared with the families of just 2,000 other Black men across the country.

“I’m glad that with this opportunity, that he will be recognized. And not just him, but so many other families and other Monford Point Marines will get this recognition that’s long overdue,” said Anne.

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