Congressional Gold Medal recipient and Los Angeles resident Marion Meredith Beal, an original Montford Point Marine, was laid to rest April 1 with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute.
Beal was the first African-American enlisted man to work at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He died at the age of 93 after a brief illness.
“Sergeant Beal is my hero and he had to fight for the right to fight. It is because of the courageous efforts of pioneers like Beal and other Montford Point Marines who paved the way for me, that I am where I am today,” said Sergeant Major Delwin Ellington, the Marine Corps’ youngest Sergeant Major.
President Franklin Roosevelt issued a Presidential directive in 1942 enabling African Americans to enlist in the Marine Corps, the last branch of the military to integrate. The recruits were segregated and trained at Montford Point in Point Lejeune, NC. Beal served during WWII as an original Montford Point Marine in one of the first platoons to integrate the U.S. Marine Corps.
Beal was born October 4, 1922 in a rural area of Marion County, TX. Both of his parents, Henry and Mattie Benton Beal, were educators who raised Beal and his younger brother, Gerald Kenneth, in Marshall, TX. After graduating from high school at the age of 15, he attended Bishop College and graduated at the age of 19 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1942.
In 1950, Beal moved to Los Angeles where he met the love of his life, Rohelia “Cherry” Beal. They were married on November 30, 1952 and recently celebrated 63 years of marriage.
Beal was a pillar in the community starting a cub scout pack, boy scout troop, little league team and countless other church, school and community initiatives.
In June 2012, Beal returned to Washington, D.C. to receive the Congressional Gold Medal and a letter of appreciation from President Barack Obama. Marion Meredith Beal is no longer an unsung hero.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his wife, Rohelia Cherry Beal; son, Meredith; daughter, Michele; son-in-law, the Rev. Dr. Jules S. Bagneris III; three grandchildren, Monet, graduate of the University of Southern California; Jules, IV, graduate of Arizona State University, graduating from Pepperdine University Law School; and Mariana, a 2015 graduate of Princeton University, and a host of other relatives.