The 90-year-old Michigan veteran was honored Tuesday for being one of the first African-Americans to join the U.S. Marines.
Farmington, Michigan resident John Willie Jordan was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters for his service more than seven decades ago.
“I thought I had been forgotten,” Jordan said after the ceremony, adding he had unfortunately lost track of many of his fellow Marines in recent years. “I don’t think any of them are around anymore … I don’t know if they are alive or dead.”
According to the Detroit News, Jordan joined the armed forces in 1944 but never saw action. He was stationed in Hawaii, where he served as an aircraft mechanic fixing and cleaning planes for combat.
He served for two years until he was honorably discharged on May 11, 1946.
After serving, Jordan went back to his hometown of Flint, where he obtained his high school diploma and began working in local factories.
He had long stints working in the auto plants, including the Cadillac Motor Division, in Detroit. Jordan worked there for 31 years up to the day he retired.