Gunnery Sgt. Charles Shaw, who died October 29, 1979, is posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest civilian award for “outstanding perseverance and courage that inspired social change in the Marine Corps.”
For a quick history lesson, in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order prohibiting racial discrimination in the military. Shortly after, Black Marines trained at Montford Point Camp, separate from their white Marine peers. Shaw enlisted in 1946 and trained at Montford Point, becoming one of their senior drill instructors.
When desegregation took place under President Harry Truman’s executive order, Shaw was the first Black drill instructor at Parris Island. He served in active duty until 1963 and continued to serve with the Marine Reserves until his retirement in 1973.
Learn more about the Marines of Montford Point Camp, Gunnery Sgt. Shaw, and his family’s fight to see him properly recognized here
. And you can catch video of the medal presentation here