Nation’s first black Marines honored in Gulfport

Veteran: ‘It’s never too late to do the right thing’

By MICHAEL NEWSOM — [email protected]

GULFPORT — Some of the nation’s first black U.S. Marines were honored here Wednesday as U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, Mayor George Schloegel and others gathered to recognized their efforts during World War II.

The local men were members of the Montford Point Marines and a ceremony at the World War II Memorial downtown paid tribute to them. One of the few surviving Montford Point Marines, David Potts Sr., of Gulfport, was recognized, while others were honored posthumously at the event. Master Sgt. Fred Ash, who died in 2005, was also recognized, along with Cpl. John Hall Jr., of Gulfport, who died in May, and Nathan Walker Jr., who died in 2010. Palazzo’s office is working to identify others Montford Point Marines who may be from the area, so they can also be recognized.

Potts, who said he believes all the Gulfport men he served in the Montford Marines with are now dead, said he was happy about the recognition nearly 70 years after the war ended.

“It feels great,” Potts said, flashing a wide smile.

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