This week’s episode of “NCIS” was special in two ways. First, viewers met the man that the main character, Special Agent Gibbs, was named after. Second, a very special group of American heroes, people many viewers have probably never heard of before, was recognized.
The main storyline of Tuesday’s episode, dubbed “The Namesake,” revolved around a Navy petty officer who was shot to death driving a Ferrari that didn’t belong to him. The investigation leads Special Agents Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) to a Virginia pawnshop to learn who purchased the murder weapon.
While waiting for the shop owner to retrieve the record of sale for the gun, DiNozzo notices a Congressional Medal of Honor in a display case. DiNozzo asks the shop owner if it’s genuine and how much it goes for. We learn that a World War II veteran tried to sell his medal, but that the owner had explained to him that it’s illegal to sell/purchase one, so instead she loaned him $3,000.
Upon seeing the record for the loan, DiNozzo says, “Leroy Jethro Moore, what are the odds?” To which an obviously stunned and disturbed Gibbs replies, “That’s my father’s best friend. I was named after him.”
We learn later that Moore, a US Marine who trained at Montfort Point, North Carolina, while the US military was still segregated, earned his Congressional Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima. He needed the money to pay for the repair of wheelchair lift at the retirement home where he resides.
While most of the black Marines who went through segregated training at Monfort Point were assigned to support or guard units, once they arrived in places like Iwo Jima, everyone who carried a rifle ended up fighting on one of the most hellish battlefields of the Pacific Theater.
Several were awarded Congressional Medals of Honor but didn’t receive them until 1996, after Congress passed legislation that fixed the injustice they had suffered.
The Monfort Point Marines were honored with The Congressional Gold Medal on June 27, 2012 and Tuesday “NCIS” episode was dedicated to these brave Marine heroes. They now are immortalized on film like their fellow World War II colleagues the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Buffalo Soldiers who fought in the Indian Wars.