Tragic death of Montford Point Marine

Left, Councilmember Wengay Newton, William C. Scott (center) and John Tyrone Ayers received their Congressional Gold Medals for their World War II military service on Nov. 8, 2013.

ST. PETERSBURG — Montford Point Marine William C. Scott, rode into the path of a car and was struck and killed Monday night in south St. Petersburg, police said.

Last November, 87-year-old Scott received the Congressional Gold Medal for his years of military service during World War II. More than 400 African-American alumni of Montford Point were honored for their service in 2012, but an oversight left Scott, John Tyrone Ayers and Samuel L. Blossom (now deceased) without their medals.

In early 2013, Scott walked into the St. Petersburg Housing and Community Development to see if he could get some assistance in repairing his roof. Wearing his red United States Marine Corp cap, he got the attention of Linda Byars who was working in the office. When he left, she looked him up and realized he was not only a marine, but part of the original Montford Point Marines, the first black unit of the U.S. Marines Corps.

“I did my research, and I said, this is history,” said Byars.

Along with city officials and a whole community of volunteers willing to donate their time and money, she set out to get the necessary paperwork completed so that Scott, who served in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, could get his new roof. But when the inspector showed up, it turns out his situation was more dire than what he was letting on.

Not only did the roof need to be repaired, but the entire roof structure. Conditions were so bad that building officials would not allow him to return to his house until the necessary repairs were made.

“We scrambled about and came up with a little money,” Byars said. With thousands of dollars for repairs either found or donated, volunteers helped move Scott out of his home in May of last year so they could fix the dilapidated roof and make other improvements to the home.

Mold was eating away at its interior and he had been without running water or electricity. The city also rectified the medal oversight, and on Nov. 8, 2013, had a ceremony awarding  Scott, Ayers and Blossom’s wife their long-awaited medals.

Holding back tears, Scott said, “It’s been a long time. It feels good.”

Police did not say whether the driver of the Nissan, 23-year-old Brittany Harris of St. Petersburg, was injured or cited.

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