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WWII veteran Roland Tapscott passes into legend

Wednesday, Jan. 8 | By Mark Grandstaff | Google+

Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
World War II veteran and community pillar Roland I. Tapscott, 91, died Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014.

Tapscott, a World War II Army draftee who went on to join the Marine Corps. Tapscott was the first black member of the Fauquier Planning Commission, post commander of American Legion Post 72 and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Tapscott endured prejudice and indignity in his military service. His first station was Montford Point, N.C., where black recruits went to boot camp. From 1942 to 1949, about 20,000 black service members passed through Montford Point. He and his fellow black Marines received arms and equipment inferior to those of his white counterparts. He was treated with contempt by white officers, who addressed him as a master would a servant.

Tapscott received two promotions during his service, from private to private first class. He returned home as a corporal, where family and friends welcomed him. Tapscott went on to work for the federal government for 34 years in the Federal Housing Administration and in the U.S. Navy.

He joined the NAACP and served on the Fauquier Planning Commission for eight years. He did not forget the trials of racial prejudice, and took part in Fauquier County's integration efforts.

After noting the increasing demands for affordable housing in Fauquier County, Tapscott founded the Fauquier Housing Corporation in 1970. Maximilian Tufts Sr. and John Wayland were co-founders.

Tapscott lived in Warrenton with his son, Adrian Tapscott. In 2012, Tapscott joined 400 surviving Montford Point service members in receiving a Congressional Gold Medal from Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.

Funeral arrangements are still in progress, said Woodson Joynes, director of Joynes Funeral Home.

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