By Sgt. Timothy Smithers, Marine Corps Forces Central Command
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fl. --
Pfc Burnie W. Hill, a Montford Point Marine, was posthumously honored with the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal May 31, 2018. The medal was given to his son Clement Hill during a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
On Nov. 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the law to award all Montford Point Marines with the Congressional Gold Medal. The gold medal, authorized by Public Law 112–59 was awarded to the Montford Point Marines in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country during World War II.
“I discovered my father was a Marine only because he said he was there,” said Clement Hill, Burnie Hill’s son, “I did find out, through the years, he was one of the 260 Marines that were drafted [In the Marine Corps and trained at Montford Point].”
Nearly 20,000 Marines were trained at Montford Point, North Carolina from 1942-1949. Every aspect of their training was segregated from their white counterparts. They were housed in prefabricated huts and railroad tracks separated white residents from the training camp. They were only permitted on the main base of Camp Lejeune if they were escorted by a white Marine.
Hill boxed while at Montford Point and while stationed in the Philippines. Following his time in the Marine Corps he went on to fight boxers such as Sugar Ray Robinson and was a friend of Joey Archibald.
He opened a catering business and worked as a cook, then was a head chef at Pennsylvania Railroad where he had the opportunity to cook for President Richard Nixon.
“I’d like to thank everybody for this honor. I’m kind of sad my dad’s not here to receive it. I’ll probably never forget this for the rest of my life,” said Clement Hill.