Article not correct on Congressional Medal

I’m Ron Brewington, a military historian. While surfing the internet, I discovered an article in the Dec. 22 issue of “The Leader-Herald” regarding the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to a Montford Point Marine named Ambrose “Cowboy” Anderson.

Please note that this is an error.

First of all, the Montford Point Marines were not awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, as was stated in the article. Instead, they were awarded a “collective” CGM.  

In the “Montford Point Marines Public Law (PLAW) 112-59, Section 2a: SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL., it was stated that:

(a) AWARD AUTHORIZED — The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold medal of appropriate design in honor of the Montford Point Marines, collectively, in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country.

In sections 3, 4 and 5 of the public law, it is noted that the law authorizes the amount of $30,000 from the U.S. Treasury to pay for ONE Congressional Gold Medal. Can you imagine how much it would cost for the U.S. government to pay for 20,000 MPM CGMs?

As a result, the term “collective” is now used by the Congress to denote groups, i.e., Montford Point Marines, Tuskegee Airmen, WASPs, etc., who will be honored as a whole group and not an individual person.

A report released on Feb. 13, 2017 by the Congressional Research Service about the “Congressional Gold Medal, 1776-2016” states: “Two other collective medals were awarded in 2011. The first was awarded to the Montford Point Marines, in recognition of “their personal sacrifice and service to their country” as the first African-American Marines.”

This means that after giving the Congressional Gold Medal to many individual persons over the years, it is now called “collective” medals that are given to members of large numbers of recipients.

Unfortunately, numerous media outlets are not aware of this “new” directive and end up writing incorrect information to the public. 

Also note that all of the estimated 20,000 Montford Point Marines participants [both living and deceased] of the Montford Point Marines were awarded a singular “collective” CGM by members of the U.S. Congress in a one-time only ceremony held on June 27, 2012  inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda with 368 Montford Point Marines and widows present representing all of the Montford Point Marines. 

Immediately following the ceremony, the one and only singular CGM was taken to the Smithsonian Institution.

The following day, June 28, 2012, in a ceremony at  the Marine Barracks, located in Washington, DC, every attending Montford Point Marine or a family member of a deceased Montford Point Marine was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal bronze replica by then-incumbent Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos.

The MPM received a singular, one-time only CGM, just like the Tuskegee Airmen. The MPM’s one and only  CGM currently sits in the same location that the Tuskegee Airmen’s CGM sits, that being the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Please click on the following link:   https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2015.237ab

Please note that CGM bronze replicas are only available for sale through the U.S. Mint. (Please see the following below link: https://catalog.usmint.gov/montford-point-marines-bronze-medal-3-inch-930.html) 

It is a CGM bronze replica that Anderson is seen wearing in one of the article photos.

It has been wrongly interpreted by many persons to say that President Obama signed a law that all MPM will individually receive a real CGM.

This is not true. The Montford Point Marines are being honored as a group, not individually, as members are wrongfully being told.

The ONE and ONLY CGM sits in Washington, DC.

In conclusion, the following link shows the list of all the recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal. Please note that the list says “Montford Point Marines” and not any individual Montford Point Marine, including Ambrose “Cowboy” Anderson. The same applies to the Tuskegee Airmen, the WASPs and other multiple groups.  



Military Historian



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