OCEANSIDE, Calif. (AP) – The story of the first black Marines is a part of history few Americans, and even few Marines, have learned, but the Marine Corps’ new commandant intends to change that.

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Commandant Gen. James Amos is lobbying to get the Montford Point Marines the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award. Congress will vote on that tomorrow.

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The Corps also next year will teach all Marines the story of Montford Point, the base set up for black Marines in 1942 in North Carolina to keep them separate from white Marines.

The Marine Corps was the last military branch to accept blacks in segregated units.

Historians say their role has been largely overlooked. Most of the 19,000 Montford Point Marines have died. Some estimate less than 200 are still alive.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.