Virgil "Jack" McBride, a Word War II Navy veteran and president of the local NAACP branch, received some long overdue recognition for his service last week.
McBride was a recipient of the Cold War Recognition Certificate, a document authorized by Congress awarded to military personnel, defense workers and other citizens who worked for the U.S. government from September 1945 to December 1991.
Though his discharge came within the time frame for the certificate, most of McBride's service was in the Pacific Theatre during World War II aboard the USS Mountrail. McBride's daughter, Sherry McBride-Brown, said McBride was nominated for the recognition by one of his nurses with the VA Hospital in Columbia.
"It was a complete surprise," said McBride. "I guess it was an honor; I was surprised."
McBride was drafted into service in 1944, and he said he chose the Navy because "I thought maybe I'd see some of the world, and I thought it wouldn't be as segregated as the Army was, but it was."
"On the ship we had another McBride, he was white and from Hoboken, N.J. We were in the same division ... we called each other Mac," he said. "When we got back to (San Francisco) to refuel and take ammo, we had to say to each other "see you later.' We couldn't stay in the same hotels or restaurants.
"The thing that bothered me was that in the Philippines, Hawaii, China or Japan after the war, we could go to any restaurant and sit down together and nothing was segregated, but back in the U.S. everything was. That bothered me."