MUSKEGON, Mich.– They were among the first black marines to serve the United States and now, two veterans from Muskegon Heights were recognized with the highest civilian honor Saturday, the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. After a house bill passed back in 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law, an act to grant the Medal of Honor collectivity to Montford Point Marines.
Corporal Flate Staples and Sargeant Robert Spencer were among 20,000 marines to serve. Now, 60 years later and in front of a packed room, all eyes were on these two men who finally got the recognition they deserved.
Corporal Flate said it’s a day he never thought would come. “I never dreamed that I’d be recognized for the service I put in and for the things that I went through at that time,” he said. “But I’m very grateful and honored to serve this country.”.
Sergeant Spencer’s grandson Kirk Spencer could hardly put into words how powerful of a moment it was to see his grandfather receive such an award. “It’s way beyond pride, its way beyond words,” said Spencer. ”I can barely speak how I feel right now.”
Both Cpl. Flate and Sgt. Spencer were also recognized by the State of Michigan, the county of Muskegon and the cities of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights for their service.