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Springfield Vet Honored for World War 2 Service In Segregated Unit

DeLoyce McMurray
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was in Springfield Tuesday, presiding over a ceremony to honor a World War II veteran.

Four days after DeLoyce McMurray graduated from high school, he joined the Marines. But instead of training at Parris Island, McMurray was sent toMontfordPoint. That's where the segregated Marine Corps trained its African-American recruits.

While not as well-known as other black units like the Tuskegee Airmen, last year all 19,000 of the so-called Montford Point Marines were made eligible for the Congressional Gold Medal.

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS
Sen. Dick Durbin, left, presents the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Marine DeLoyce McMurray at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Marine Maj. Greg Gordon, right, helped the 87-year-old McMurray stand during the ceremony.

Surrounded by family and well-wishers, McMurray, 87, lamented his comrades who could not share in the recognition.

"My brother Wesley, who went in about a month before I did," McMurray said. "Winston Harrison. Rocky Ford. ... Oh, I could name so many. ... They're all dead. So I accept this medal for them."

McMurray served on Guam, Saipan and Wake Island, and helped with the wounded at Iwo Jima. In civilian life, he became a computer programmer for the Department of Defense, and was married to his late wife for 64 years.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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