Boone, 84, will be among approximately 400 of the other Montford Point Marines who will be receiving the award on June 27 in Washington, D.C., something he said came as a surprise to him.
Montford Point was a seperate and segregated facility at the Marine Corps complex at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where African-Americans were sent for boot camp between 1942-49. Approximately 20,000 black Marines received their initial exposure to the Corps there, before the service was fully integrated.
"I was surprised. First I
Shortly after graduating high school, Boone joined the Marine Corps in July of 1946. The decision to join was a not a difficult one, he said. Boone's father had died in 1942 and his mother was sick with tuberculosis. Wanting to attend college, but not having the financial means by which to do so, Boone saw the benefits provided in the
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1941 that eliminated racial discrimination from not only the military, but federal departments, agencies and private defense contractors.
Though the order was suppose to eliminate racial discrimination, the African-American marines were trained at Camp Lejeune at Montford Point in North Carolina - a camp that was separated from where the white marines received their training.
"The area they picked out for the black marines for the whole United States, no matter where they came from, they all took their boot [camp] training at Montford Point, North Carolina, which was a swampy, snake infested camp," said Boone. "But I made up my mind to endure no matter what they threw at me, no matter what the whites threw at us that lived in the town, because I had a motive. I wanted to go to college."
After serving two years in the Marine Corps - achieving the rank of Corporal - and being discharged in July of 1948, Boone enrolled at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine that September. It was there that he met his future wife, Harriet Howell.
After graduating from Bates College, Boone went on to Boston University Law School from where he graduated in 1956.
Shortly after graduating, Boone - a native of Englewood, N.J. - worked for a law firm in Newark, N.J. before he opened up his own law firm in Hackensack, N.J. in the late 1960s.
Years earlier, when Boone was still in high school, the wife of his employer told him about Vermont as she had stayed in Londonderry many times during foliage season. Sometime after Boone and his wife decided to get married, they spent a week in Vermont and often returned during the foliage and ski seasons. In 1972, the couple purchased a home in Winhall and moved to Manchester permanently in August of 1989 when he retired from practicing law.
Since moving to Manchester, Boone has been actively involved in the community. He was Chairman of the Board at Hildene and also served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Hildene. Boone has worked at the Manchester Music Festival and the Mancheser Food Cupboard. He also served on various committees, as deacon and in many other capacities for the First Congregational Church.
Boone and his wife have two children - a son, Peter, and a daughter Daryl.
Peter is now an orthopedist in Trumbull, Conn. Peter and his wife - who is also a doctor - have three children. Their oldest son, Brian, graduated from Princeton University earlier this month. Their middle son, Andrew, will be a junior at Princeton University this coming fall and their youngest son, Christopher, will be a senior at the Hopkins School in New Haven, Conn.
The couple's daughter, Daryl, holds a master's degree in Library Science and has worked for the last 30 years at Widener Library at Harvard University.