MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Mobile's John Franklin Gray was featured in the PBS Documentary, "The War." Gray was one of the first African Americans to join the U.S. Marine Crops and served 19 months in the Pacific theater during World War II.
He was part of a group known as the Montford Point Marines .
Gray's widow said he was a trailblazer. "He would often say so many young men became Marines because of him," said Reverend Edwina Gray, "and I believe that."
The Montford Point Marines is a group of African American men who joined the Marine Corps between 1942 and 1949, going through basic training at Camp Montford Point in South Carolina.
Tuesday, the United States House of Representatives was considering a bill that would grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines.
The Bill is sponsored by Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida. It would authorize an amount not to exceed $30,000 to pay for the cost of the medals, charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.
Representative Brown's office said the bill passed the House and will go to the Senate for a vote.
Gray said the victory is bittersweet.
"Yes, it is because so many of them men who were a part of it are not here anymore," said Gray. Most of the 20,000 Montford Point Marines are dead.
The bill would award the Montford Point Marines the nation's highest civilian honor for their personal sacrifice and service to their country nearly 70 years after the Marine Corps allowed African Americans to serve.
John Gray said his father would be proud, and he too feels it is long overdue.
"Yeah, [it] should have happened a long time ago, but we are just happy it finally came about," said John Gray.
Gray's family said his legacy lives on in the people he loved.
The Marine Corps also plans to teach all of its Marines about the life and legacy of the Montford Point Marines.
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