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Hospice Patient Receives Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Service
DAYTON -- A Hospice of Dayton patient received today a Congressional Gold Medal, a long overdue honor he earned for his bravery during World War II.
According to The Hospice of Dayton, John Lee "Jack" Cooper, 91, served as one of 500 Montford Point Marines, who were among the first blacks to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Cooper trained at Camp Lejeune's Montford Point, where he qualified as a rifle marksman, and warehouseman. He attained the rank of private first class.
Following boot camp, a news release states, Cooper was shipped out to the South Pacific, where he served during World War II from September 1943 until November 1945.
"They, along with other African Americans military groups, have been credited with helping plant the seeds of change that were taking root in the pre-Civil Rights era," the release states.
In June 2012, the U.S. Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to 330 Montford Point Marines. The remaining surviving Marines in that group could not be located at that time, however.
Several months after that ceremony, Roger Smith of Chicago was visiting his hometown of Dayton and stopped by to see his aunt and uncle, John and Gladys Cooper. He learned during that visit of John Cooper's involvement in the Montford Point Marines and began efforts to get him a Congressional Gold Medal.
After more than a year of writing letters and making calls, Smith's efforts paid off and Cooper was approved for a medal.
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