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.
Tag: African American History Month
Oliver Tony Henry, Jr. was an African American who led the Coast Guard toward greater diversity during World War II and the postwar era by shattering color barriers in the U.S. military.
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.
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.
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.
All Hands selects several messages to publish in a weekly post to help raise awareness about specific messages and useful information for Coast Guard members.
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.
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.
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.
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.