By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia commended Reverend William Greason of Birmingham. Rev. Greason was one of the Montford Point Marines honored during a Congressional Gold Medal presentation at the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Bachus issued a written statement following the event.
Congressman Bachus said, “It is a privilege to be able to pay this long overdue tribute to a courageous group of patriotic veterans at the U.S. Capitol. The awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal will help ensure that the proud legacy of the Montford Point Marines is permanently remembered in both military history and the history of the integration of American society. Reverend Greason himself stands as a source of inspiration to all of us by virtue of his military service, baseball achievements, and faithful ministry to the people of Birmingham.”
The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos said that the Montford Point Marines story “is one of triumph over adversity. Their legacy of courage and perseverance is an inspiration to all Marines.”
In the beginning of World War II, Blacks were excluded from joining the U.S. Marine Corps. The Montford Point Marines were the first Black Marines. Reverend Greason was a participant in the invasion of Iowa Jima, one of the hardest fought battles of World War II. The raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi after four days of savage fighting is immortalized in the Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington and is based on the famous photo by AP war correspondent Joe Rosenthal. Rev. Greason also served this nation in the Korean War.
Rev. Greason was awarded a battle star, the Japan Occupation Medal, and a Presidential unit citation with one Bronze star.
Congressman Bachus and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D) from Selma in conjunction with Friends of Rickwood Field, organized a local recognition program for Reverend Greason at the 2012 Rickwood Classic in Birmingham on May 30.
Reverand Greason was also a professional baseball player who pitched for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro League and later for the St. Louis Cardinals in the MLB. He is also the longtime pastor of the historic Bethel Baptist Church in the Pratt City neighborhood of Birmingham.
The Montford Point Marines were 20,000 recruits that trained at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina between 1942 and 1949. During World War II, American units were segregated into White and Black units so the Black Marines trained and then served in Black units. The Congressional Gold Medal recognizes the Montford Point Marines for their exceptional service and achievements. President Truman desegregated the American armed forces in 1948.
The Financial Services Committee and the House sets the rules and requirements for the award of Congressional Gold Medals. Congressman Bachus is the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida sponsored the legislation. The legislation received unanimous approval from the House and Senate. It was signed into law by President Obama on November 23, 2011.
Congressman Bachus respresents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.