Mississippi veteran posthumously awarded congressional medal

October 31, 2021 GMT

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — The family of a World War II veteran from Mississippi who was among the first Black men to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps received the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his service.

U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly, a Republican who represents a northeastern Mississippi-based district, presented the medal to relatives of Embra Jackson Sr. during a Saturday ceremony at a Tupelo church. The medal is one of the nation’s highest civilian awards.

“Mr. Jackson was a true hero,” Kelly said in a statement. “He had a love for America that compelled him to leave the only life he had ever known without any assurances that he would return. Mr. Jackson’s great patriotism will always be remembered, as will the service of his fellow Montford Point Marines.”

Jackson enlisted in 1943 and was among more than 20,000 Black men who joined the Marines from 1942 to 1949, according to Kelly’s office. They served in segregated military units during WWII. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported Jackson was honorably discharged in 1946, became a teacher and died in 1983 at the age of 58 after he had retired.