From staff reports
The Marine obstacle course on board NAS Meridian will be dedicated in honor of Meridian native Cpl. Sylvester Hood Sr., a Montford Point Marine. Members of his family will be in attendance.
The ceremony, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8, will dedicate the obstacle course as the Cpl. Sylvester Hood Sr. Memorial Obstacle Course marked by a sign hanging from the Tori located at the mid-point of the obstacle course. A ground breaking for a granite monument, to be put in place later this year, honoring Cpl. Hood and the larger Montford Point Marine legacy also will occur at this time.
The guest of honor is Capt. Tabitha Jones, USMCR, granddaughter of Cpl. Hood. Raised in Meridian, she attended college on a full four-year track and field
scholarship. She attended the University of Alabama for two years and graduated
from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Jones completed Officer Candidate School in August 2003. After completing The Basic School, she was assigned to be an Air Defense Control Officer for the Marine Corps. Graduating from the Air Defense Training School in November 2004, she reported to Marine Air Control Squadron 2, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
Currently, Jones serves as the Assistant Manpower Officer in the Marine Forces Reserve Force Headquarters Group in New Orleans.
Who are the Montford Point Marines?
On June 25, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 that, in part, prohibited the United States Marine Corps from continuing to exclude men from its ranks based on race, creed, color or national origin.
Lt. Gen. Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the Marine Corps, responded by establishing a racially segregated training depot for black recruits at Camp Montford Point, N.C. Those who graduated from this new depot became known as Montford Point Marines.
Sylvester Hood Sr. enlisted on December 10, 1943. A pioneer, he was among the first of the roughly 20,000 Montford Point Marines to graduate prior to training integration and the depot's closure in 1949. During World War II, he served in the 6th Marine Ammunition Company as a munitions worker, deploying to Sasebo, Japan and Hawaii. Cpl. Hood was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on March 9, 1946, and returned to his family in Meridian.
Despite institutional obstacles, the Montford Point Marines served with distinction at home and abroad-risking and laying down their lives for a country and Corps that refused to fully accept them. The courage and dedication exhibited by Corporal Hood and his fellow Montford Point Marines not only cemented their right to fight, but helped pave the way for important cultural changes that contribute to the success of the Marine Corps today.