Houston vet recalls Congressional Gold Medal ceremony

July 4, 2012 2:14:36 PM PDT
Independence Day is special for all Americans, but for veterans, it means more. They've defended the nation. One Houston Marine helped break the color barrier in World War II and recently received the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, DC. We him about what the experience was like, and what the 4th means to him.

The Congressional Gold Medal hangs proudly around the neck of WWII veteran James Lloyd. It's the highest civilian honor awarded by the White House. Lloyd and his wife just returned from the ceremony in Washington, DC.

"I ran into one guy there who was in my company. I didn't know until we were discussing overseas in 1943, 44," he said.

In the 1940s, Lloyd helped break the color barrier by serving in the Montford Pine Marines Corp. Now he and others in his company received the Congressional Gold Medal for the their service, endured through racism within the military.

"We had drill instructors at times that said go home. We don't need you," he said.

Named for where they underwent basic training, Montford Point was segregated. Instead of living in the barracks, they were given tents. They trained in mud, while whites marched on pavement.

"It was hard, but we were determined to be Marines. They said we couldn't make it," he said.

After having such a wonderful experience in Washington, DC and receiving that award, they came home to one more surprise. Their home and lawn decorated for the Fourth of July.

"To have a neighbor that thinks this much of you, to buy all this stuff and decorate our home, it was just fantastic," said Lloyd's wife, Vernell Lloyd.

And as the 87-year-old reflects, on this day of American independence, he carries the words of a three-star general at the ceremony.

"I said, 'General I am joyed today to see you standing here with those three stars on your shoulder.' He said, 'No, I rest on your shoulder, because if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have these three stars,'" he said.


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