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L.A. County honors World War II Marines who broke racial barriers

February 26, 2013 | 11:30 am

As part of Black History Month, Los Angeles County honored a group of U.S. Marines who broke down racial barriers.

About 20,000 black recruits were trained as Marines at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina during World War II. The U.S. House of Representatives awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to the Montford Point Marines in 2011.

Los Angeles County officials presented scrolls to members of the local chapter of the Montford Point Marines Assn. at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Supervisor Don Knabe, who made the presentation, said the Marines "loyally served our nation in the face of prejudice and discrimination."

Montford Point Marines William "Jack" McDowell of Long Beach, 85, who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars during his 23-year career as a Marine, and Vaughan Whitworth, 88, of Los Angeles, who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, accepted the award.

Association chapter president Larry E. Michael Johnson, who joined the Marine Corps in 1972, thanked the Montford Point Marines for paving the way for him.

"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be who I am today," he said.

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-- Abby Sewell

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