The Montford Point Marines were honored by the Marine Corps and Congress with the Congressional Gold Medal at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. on June 28, 2012. 400 of the first black Marines were honored.
The Congressional Gold Medal, is the nation’s highest civilian honor. Savannah’s Sergeant John White and Samuel Berksteiner were among the Montford Marines who were honored. The Montford Marines broke the final color barrier in the military. President Roosevelt in 1942, allowed African-Americans the right to serve in the marines. However, African American were not allowed to train with the white marines. Therefore, another camp was forged featuring only African-American marines. In those days, African-American marines faced issues of segregation and racism. They were also subject to prejudice and were mistreated.
White finished touring as one of the first contemporary U.S. Marines and then his mother offered his name to be considered as one of the first black officers for Savannah Police Department. The officers were secretly trained for three months by judges and lawyers at numerous locations. They were labeled as the most effectively trained law enforcement officers in the city.
Samuel Berksteiner fought in the second World War and was 18-years-old when he was recruited by the marines. Berksteiner had not finish high school when he joined the marines, but eventually obtained his diploma. After the marines Berksteiner settled in Sandfly, Ga , later he found work in the construction trade. Berksteiner has six children and 14 granchildren.