Corporal John Willie Jordan was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines Corps 70 years ago, and during a ceremony held Monday in Farmington, he finally received recognition for his ground-breaking service.
Jordan, 90, accepted a Congressional Gold Medal certificate awarded by Congress to Montford Point Marines, the first African Americans who served in the Marine Corps. The award was presented at Groves-Walker American Legion Post #346, by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, who helped Jordan’s family secure the honor.
Peters called the Farmington Hills resident “a true American hero,” who helped change the face of the military and the country. Jordan was drafted in 1943, two years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an order that allowed African Americans to become Marines. He trained at Montford Point, a North Carolina camp that was completely segregated from nearby Camp Lejeune.
Jordan said he chose that branch of service “because there were no Black people in the Marine Corps.” Asked how he felt about being segregated while serving his country, he said he “just had to go along with what the man said. That was it.”
Daughter, Beverly Jordan Murphy, and son, Tracy Jordan, attended the ceremony. Murphy said her father often spoke with pride about his time in the service.
“Even when Gomer Pyle came on when we were younger, he said ‘no other service to be in but the Marines’,” she said.
Post #346 Commander Jim Weston attended the ceremony because felt a strong obligation to be there and congratulate Jordan.
“This is a real honor,” Weston said, “and there should be more.”