A 94-year-old Marine veteran from Hayward, California, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Aug. 2 — nearly three quarters of a century after he fought to clear the Marshall Islands from the Japanese in World War II.

Joseph Alexander was awarded one of the nation’s highest civilian honors for being among the first African Americans to enlist in the Corps and attend recruit training at Montford Point Camp in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Alexander’s exploits during World War II in the Pacific and his time at Montford Point were first detailed in a story by the East Bay Times.

According to the East Bay Times, Alexander’s family stumbled upon his past as a Montford Point Marine while working with Department of Veterans Affairs to get him medical benefits.

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Source: Shane Snow/Marine Corps Times