Montford Marine from Moore Co. posthumously awarded Congressional Gold Medal

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Sunday, March 31, 2024
Montford Marine posthumously awarded Congressional Gold Medal
A military veteran was honored Saturday with a Congressional medal for his service.

MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- From Freedom Park here in Raleigh to the Montford Point Marine Memorial in Jacksonville, across the state, there are efforts to honor Black history, even if some aren't alive to see it.

They were called the greatest generation.

"I say legacy because as a young child when I was able to visit with him, he was quiet but you always felt his presence," said Sandy Kelly's grandson.

Cpl. Sandy Kelly from Carthage, NC first learned to be a brick mason, then started a family, and later answered the call of his country during WWII.

"As our nation was at war, more than 20,000 African American men enlisted in the United States Marine Corps," said GySgt. Tammy Williamson of the USMC.

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Kelly was among those who trained at Montford Point, a segregated section of Camp Lejeune.

"It's always been tough to be a Marine period but a Marine to those days, I can only imagine the hills he had to climb," his grandson said.

Eventually, the Montford Point Marines paved the way for other African Americans to serve in the military, with the armed services ultimately integrating.

Decades later, a fight for recognition ultimately led to President Obama approving the Congressional Gold Medal for the Montford Marines in 2011, but only a small amount has actually received them. And today inside a church in Carthage that Kelly helped build, his daughter was there to receive his award posthumously.

"This is very dear to me and it makes me feel very grateful and it causes even more respect and love for my father," she said.