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Major James Capers, Jr.

Floor Speech

Date: Aug. 14, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. NORMAN. Madam Speaker, today I rise to honor one of the greatest heroes our country has ever seen in combat--my constituent, and Lee County's very own, Major James Capers, Jr.

Many may not know who Major Capers Jr. is, but he became the first black Marine officer nominated for the Medal of Honor and ultimately received the Silver Star.

He is not only a hero in the Marine Corps, but also for his unwavering service in the Special Operations community, as well. Born in Bishopville, South Carolina, in the era of Jim Crow, Major Capers willingly enlisted in the military to serve a nation that did not have his interest at heart. That, in itself, is heroism.

Regardless, after finding a home in the Marine Corps, he became the first African American to get a battlefield commission in the Marine Corps Force Recon and was promoted from Staff Sergeant to Second Lieutenant, giving him control over the unit.

During the Vietnam War, Capers' team, who called themselves ``Team Broadminded'' conducted covert missions many of which nearly took his life to save his men. Soon after, Major Capers, a trailblazer for African Americans in the Marine Corps, became the face of their recruiting campaign called ``Ask a Marine.''

Capers lost his wife and son to cancer, both of whom are buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but he still regularly receives visits from his fellow soldiers and other young Marines.

However, he finally got the recognition he rightfully deserved. In 2010, Major James Capers Jr. was one of only 14 members inducted into the inaugural class of U.S. Special Operations Command's Commando Hall of Honor at a ceremony in front of USSOCOM headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base.

Between the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and countless other medals, Major James Capers, Jr. exemplifies what it truly means to be a hero--it is not the medals, but someone who stands face to face with adversity and is willing to sacrifice his own life for those of his brothers in Christ.

It is my hope that every person of future generations can see and hear of his story, and be willing to do what he has done, and that is to be a hero. With that Madam Speaker, it is my honor and privilege to recognize Major James Capers, Jr.