Tag: African American History Month

The Long Blue Line: 75 years ago—Service trailblazer and FRC namesake Olivia Hooker took the oath

At 98 years old, Olivia Hooker recalled her experiences as one of the first African American female members in the Coast Guard SPAR program during World War II. Hooker is a native of White Plains, N.Y., and recieved her Doctorate as a school psychologist. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi.

Dr. Olivia J. Hooker was a pioneer in the history of women and minorities in the Coast Guard and the nation. She believed that her military service taught her “a lot about order and priorities” and “how to better form relationships, and how to deal with people without bias and prejudice.” Despite experiencing hatred and racism in her own life, she devoted her life and her career to serving the needs of her community and her nation.

Making history in the sky

Lt. Ronaqua Russell recently became the first African-American female aviator in the Coast Guard receive the Air Medal in honor of her heroic actions in response to Hurricane Harvey, one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history. She was honored in a ceremony at Tuskegee’s Moton Field where, 77 years ago, the first African-American aviators in the U.S. Armed Services broke down racial barriers to earn their wings, and later go on to fly several heroic and critical combat missions in World War II.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard “River Cutter” pioneered desegregation 100 years ago

Nearly 100 years ago in the Deep South, in an area that held the nation’s worst records of discrimination and violence toward blacks, the Great 1913 Flood killed between 600-900 people and left 250,000 Americans homeless. Ironically, the Coast Guard made history by enlisting an all-black crew aboard river cutter Yocona, not to set records but because they were the best-qualificed watermen near Yocona’s homeport of Vicksburg, Mississippi, rescuing and transporting disaster victims from the Great 1913 Flood. Yocona proved to be the first federal vessel in peacetime manned by a racially integrated crew and set a precedent to desegregate the nation’s sea service vessels.

The Long Blue Line: Gun captain and African-American war hero Louis Etheridge

During an escort of Convoy ON-166 from Ireland to the U.S., Chief Steward Louis Etheridge, aboard Coast Guard Cutter Campbell, commanded an 11-man African-American gun crew of stewards, mess attendants and steward mates. On Feb. 22, 1944, Campbell faced-off against German submarine U-606 in which Etheridge and his gun crew decimated the sub’s crew and rendered the U-boat defenseless. Etheridge earned the Bronze Star, the first military medal bestowed on an African-American Coast Guardsman for combat heroism.

The Long Blue Line: African-American Coast Guard achievements and diversity highlights of the last century

Capt. Bobby Wilks was the first minority aviator in the service who later became the first minority air station commander. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

While the service celebrates highlights of African-American service in the Coast Guard, it should recognize the accomplishments of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans over the course of its 228-year history. These members of the long blue line have struggled for equal rights and persevered with a dedication that has benefited all who serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Long Blue Line: A history of African-Americans in Coast Guard combat

This image shows minority Lt. j.g. Joseph Jenkins and Lt. j.g. Clarence Samuels aboard Coast Guard operated USS Sea Cloud in the North Atlantic in World War II. Coast Guard photo.

African-Americans have served in every conflict fought by the Coast Guard and its predecessor services, and currently comprise the longest serving minority in the service. Today, we commemorate the achievements and sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans over the course of the service’s 228-year history.

Week in the life of the Coast Guard 2017 – Wednesday

Take a look to see what an average Wednesday entailed during the month of February. Today we feature operations to include ice rescue and first aid training, and highlight members who embody the Coast Guard core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard Officers Jenkins and Russell—Trailblazers of Ethnic Diversity in the American Sea services

African-Americans have served in the United States Coast Guard throughout its nearly 230-year history, but their participation in the service has been largely overlooked. So it is only fitting that we should document some of their participation by starting with the Coast Guard Academy, which pioneered the role of African-American officers in the U.S. sea services.