Vietnam Veteran Uses Marine Corps Skills to Become NFL Player
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Minnesota Air National Guard Brig. Gen. David D. Hamlar serves as assistant adjutant general. He assists in the oversight and leadership of Minnesota Air...
Marine Corps Col. Anthony M. Henderson is commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, California. He assumed command Dec.12, 2014....
Marine Corps Col. Dave W. Burton grew up in Washington. He attended local public schools, graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in physics...
Minnesota Army National Guard Col. Angela Steward-Randle is the director of human resources, manpower and personnel. In this position she advises the adjutant general...
Eva Lauchie is the contracting chief for the Michigan National Guard. She advises and provides counsel to employees and military leadership regarding policies, procedures, and directives of management.
Kenneth E. Washington is the senior safety and occupational health manager responsible for the successful implementation and management of Army National Guard safety programs supporting the continental...
Minnesota Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Mercedes Catchings is the newly appointed unit deployment and training manager for the 133rd Logistics Readiness Squadron..
Kansas Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Moses K. Tum is a finance management technician for the Comptroller Flight, 184th Intelligence Wing, Kansas...
Audie K. Sanders serves as the Air Force Equal Opportunity and Equal Employment Opportunity Program manager, where he manages and oversees military and civilian programs...
Air Force Capt. Levicy F. Crawford is the deputy staff judge advocate for the 8th Fighter Wing, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea...
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Winstone O. Nisbet is the security forces manager for the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. He is the senior...
Minnesota Air National Guard Brig. Gen. David D. Hamlar serves as assistant adjutant general. He assists in the oversight and leadership of Minnesota Air National Guard units and in deploying specific strategic themes relevant to external audiences, with a primary strategic objective to maintain two high-quality Air National Guard wings assigned to Minnesota. The secondary strategic objective is to sustain and acquire relevant missions for the Minnesota Air National Guard. Hamlar provides service component leadership and policy advice to, and enforces the policies of, the adjutant general as the senior Air Force officer in the Minnesota Air National Guard.
Hamlar graduated from Tufts University in Boston with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He then attended Howard University College of Dentistry as a National Health Service Corps scholarship recipient, gaining a commission at the equivalent naval rank of lieutenant. While practicing dentistry in Columbus, Ohio, he entered medical school at Ohio State University in 1985. After completing his studies in three years, he spent his fourth year as a basic research scientist. This led to an internship in general surgery and four years in otolaryngology. Finally, a fellowship in facial plastics and reconstructive surgery led him to Minnesota in 1994, where he attended the University of Minnesota.
Hamlar continued his military career in 1989 by joining the Ohio Air National Guard’s 121st Tactical Fighter Wing. He joined the 133rd Airlift Wing as a traditional guardsman and general practice physician in 1995. He became chief flight surgeon in the 133rd Medical Group, eventually gaining command of the group in 2001. The 133rd was recognized as the No. 1 unit in the Air National Guard in 2006. In 2013, he became the state air surgeon. In 2014, he was promoted as the first African-American brigadier general in Minnesota, and became the assistant adjutant general-air for the Minnesota National Guard.
He supported Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm by backfilling a vacancy, and he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and numerous military humanitarian efforts around the world. He has logged nearly 1,000 flight hours with 300 hours in combat. He was the Air National Guard Flight Surgeon of the Year in 2007.
Hamlar is the Minnesota Strategic Planning System representative, which provides executive “field” perspective to the adjutant general and director of the Air National Guard on matters of strategic significance. In addition, he continues to play a major role in the Joint Diversity Executive Council, representing Region 4 as chair, and helping to provide strategical input to the chief, National Guard Bureau. He was recently requested by Joint Diversity Executive Council chair to assist in revising and updating the strategic master plan and capstone principles.
Marine Corps Col. Anthony M. Henderson is commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, California. He assumed command Dec.12, 2014.
Henderson was born Sept. 6, 1966, in Washington, D.C. He attended elementary through high school in the Washington and Maryland public school systems. Henderson graduated from Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in history, and in 1993 with a doctorate in law. He is a licensed attorney in Louisiana.
Henderson was commissioned a second lieutenant Dec. 15, 1989. He attend the basic school in 1994, where he was designated an infantry officer. As a lieutenant, he served as a rifle platoon commander with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines from January to August 1995. He was promoted to captain Aug. 1, 1995. From October 1995 until January 1997, Henderson served as the Headquarters and Service Company commander. He subsequently served as a rifle company commander, Company L, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, from January 1997 until July 1998.
He graduated with distinction from Amphibious Warfare School in 1999 and was assigned to officer assignments, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia. Then a captain, Henderson served as the company grade infantry officer monitor from May 1999 to July 2001. During this period, he was promoted to major Aug. 1, 2000. From July 2001 until May 2002, he served as head of company grade ground monitors, center desk.
In June 2002, then a major, Henderson was assigned as executive officer, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Twentynine Palms, California. He deployed with the battalion to Operation Enduring Freedom in January 2003. Served with the battalion in Operation Iraqi Freedom during major combat operations to destroy Iraqi forces and capture Baghdad. Henderson completed the battalion’s deployment and returned to the United States in September 2003. He again deployed with the battalion to Iraq in February 2004, executing counterinsurgency, stability and reconstruction operations along the Iraqi-Syrian border until September 2004.
From January 2005 until June 2005, Henderson served as the current operations officer, 7th Marine Regiment. In August 2005, Henderson reported for duty as a student, Navy Command and Staff College, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated with distinction in June 2006 receiving a master’s degree and also completed the 14-month Naval Operational Planners Course receiving an advance warfighting degree. Henderson was promoted to lieutenant colonel Sept. 1, 2006, and was assigned as an instructor, Joint Military Operations Department, Naval War College staff.
Henderson assumed command of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, June 1, 2007. The battalion was designated battalion landing team assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He deployed to Afghanistan from March to October 2008, into the southern area of Helmand province. There he led the counterinsurgency effort against Taliban forces. Henderson relinquished command of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines on Jan. 15, 2009, and served as the operations officer, 2nd Marine Regiment, until June 2009. He then attended the National War College in Washington, receiving a second master’s degree in June 2010. Henderson served on the Joint Staff, as a current operations planner for Europe and NATO from July 2010 to April 2012. He was promoted to colonel Aug. 1, 2012. Henderson continued to serve in the Pentagon as special assistant to chairman, warrior and family support until July 2013. Henderson returned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in July 2013, and was assigned assistant chief of staff, Operations and Plans Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan. He served for 10 months in Afghanistan as the Regional Command Southwest operations officer, completing the final withdrawal of Marines and coalition forces from Helmand province and transition to Afghanistan full security in October 2014.
His personal decorations include the Combat Action Ribbon, bronze device in lieu of second award, Navy Commendation Medal with valor, gold star in lieu of second award, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal with for valor, gold star in lieu of second award, Legion of Merit, and Defense Superior Service Medal.
Marine Corps Col. Dave W. Burton grew up in Washington. He attended local public schools, graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in physics, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1989. He served in the Marine Aircraft Group 13, intelligence section, in Yuma, Arizona, from 1991 to 1994. During this period, he deployed to Somalia as part of the U.S. Central Command Intelligence Support Element, supporting U.S. Forces Somalia and U.N. operations from May to October 1993.
He was promoted to captain in 1994 and transferred to Naval Space Command, Dahlgren, Virginia, where he served as a member of a space support team, teaching space systems and applications to deploying forces and providing hardware and software to access space based solutions. Burton then attended the Command and Control Systems Course in Quantico, Virginia, graduating in 1998. During the summer of 1998, Burton served as a platoon commander at Officer Candidate School, graduating two platoons of Platoon Leaders Course.
He was promoted to major in October 1998, and transferred to U.S. Forces Korea, where he served as chief of the estimates branch of the intelligence directorate. There he was responsible for developing the peninsula intelligence estimates for the Korean theater. Burton transferred to 1st Radio Battalion, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, in the summer of 2000, and served as the operations officer and later the executive officer. He deployed with 1st Radio Battalion for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002.
Burton reported to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College earning a master’s degree in military studies. After graduation in 2004, he transferred to Marine Corps Systems Command. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in October 2004, he served as the team lead for signals intelligence systems, and later as the team lead for ground based counter radio-controlled improvised explosive device electronic warfare systems.
Burton was selected as the inspector-instructor of the Intelligence Support Battalion in 2006. Burton was next assigned to the Marine Corp Command and Staff College, where he served as a military faculty advisor. He was then selected as a Marine Corps Fellow and attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies where he earned a master’s degree in international public policy. Promoted to colonel in July 2010, he was assigned to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Forward in August 2010, and served as the assistant chief of staff, intelligence, Regional Command Southwest, in Afghanistan until March 2012. In June 2012, Burton was assigned to Marine Forces Command and served as the assistant chief of staff for intelligence until June 2013. He then commanded Marine Corps Intelligence Schools from July 2013 to August 2015. Burton is currently assigned as program manager, Marine Intelligence.
His personal decorations include: Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two awards; Meritorious Service Medal, four awards; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Naval and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two awards; and the Joint Service Achievement Medal, two awards. His wife is an Army judge advocate general officer. They have two sons.
Minnesota Army National Guard Col. Angela Steward-Randle is the director of human resources, manpower and personnel. In this position she advises the adjutant general, supported commands and headquarters staff on military personnel policies and procedures. She implements Army policies relating to the procurement, assignment, retention and re-enlistment and utilization of military personnel, and the review and consolidation of military personnel actions for submission to the National Guard Bureau and Army National Guard directorate. She is responsible for recruitment and staffing, training, compensation and benefits, equal employment opportunity and labor relations functions for about 2,500 full-time employees, which support more than 13,500 traditional Air and Army Minnesota National Guard members. Simultaneously, she is assigned as the deputy commander of the Medical Detachment, Minnesota Army National Guard. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring the medical readiness of the 11,0000 members of the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Steward-Randle has had a career serving in various leadership and staff positions providing services, various resources, training, and guidance as the state equal employment manager, inspector general, deputy state surgeon, the deputy director of logistics and an executive officer of a brigade-sized element, managing and operating within 11 different communities located throughout Minnesota from the most northern, southern, western and eastern corners of the state. Prior to her current assignment, she was the director of diversity and inclusion and family programs, where she managed two of six of the adjutant general’s priorities. In this position, she developed and executed a strategic program embraced by leaders that ensured diversity through inclusion and family readiness matters are culturally incorporated into organizational, operational and administrative processes required to transform the Minnesota National Guard beyond 2016 and well into the future.
Steward-Randle earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Saint Benedict in May 1988. At the same time, she received a commission as a Medical Service Corps officer and has served as a traditional soldier in the Minnesota Army National Guard for 27 years and in a full-time status for nearly 15 years. She also holds a master’s degree in organizational development with an in emphasis in human resources from Concordia University.
Steward-Randle has deployed twice: the first in 2003-2004 to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, in support of Operation Joint Guardian, and the second time in 2009-2010 to Basra, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Steward-Randle lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and has two grown children. Marisha is 25 years old and is a lead teacher at New Horizons Academy in Maple Grove, Minnesota, and also is a proprietor as a beauty consultant. James is 22 and a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth, with plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation.
Eva Lauchie is the contracting chief for the Michigan National Guard. She advises and provides counsel to employees and military leadership regarding policies, procedures, and directives of management. Her role includes managing, supervising, developing local policies and procedures involving the procurement of supplies, services, and construction to fulfil the mission for the Michigan Army and Air National Guard. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University. Lauchie’s career with the Michigan National Guard began in January 1989, and she has served as a contract specialist for the last 28 years for the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office for Michigan. She has been awarded team member of the month three times in her career. Her role currently incudes serving as supervisory contract specialist and contracting officer. She served on the diversity council for the National Guard for many years and currently serves on the National Guard Bureau’s Advisory Acquisition Council.
Lauchie works in her community as well. She serves as vice president on a Community Development Corporation, The Growth Center, whose mission is to positively impact the community and world through partnerships. She has been instrumental through The Growth Center, serving victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, and organizing water assistance drives to the Flint community as well as installation of water infiltration systems in Haiti following devastating earthquakes. She travels annually to various villages and cities in Kenya and South Africa for training, community support and development. Her personal motto is “Whatever your hands find to do, do it wholeheartedly."
Kenneth E. Washington is the senior safety and occupational health manager responsible for the successful implementation and management of Army National Guard safety programs supporting the continental United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As branch chief, Washington conducts staff management, budgetary requisition, training, certification, and policy development for a national safety program providing oversight of the Army National Guard Safety Career Program and assistance supporting more than 350,000 personnel in the execution of federal and state Army National Guard Safety and Occupational Health policies, and procedures. He works at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Virginia.
As an Air Force veteran and current civil service member, his opportunities in the safety field included various positions related to aviation and space safety, ground and tactical safety, explosives, range, and chemical safety, directed energy, nuclear, and radiation safety. Throughout his career, Washington’s safety experience encompasses more than 30 years of service working with the Air Force, Army, Navy, Air National Guard, and Army National Guard. He has held key positions on the Air Force Explosives Safety Council, and the Air Force Space Safety Council. As a member of the Air Force Non-Nuclear Munitions Safety Board and Nuclear Weapons System Safety Working Group, he provided technical input for Air Force research and developmental acquisition processes, ensuring effective system safety engineering throughout the end-item lifecycle. With the Army National Guard, he provided technical input as a member of the Army Traffic Safety Working Group and as the executive secretary of the Army National Guard Safety Council. His fiscal year 2016 accident prevention mitigation plan resulted in a 66 percent reduction of Army National Guard accidents compared to 2015. This reduction accounted for $277.7 million. Army National Guard fatalities were reduced by 27 percent from 2015.
Prior assignments include chief, Air National Guard Weapons Safety Division at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; deputy chief, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command Weapons Safety Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; and superintendent, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Weapons Safety Division, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Throughout these locations he served as the principal safety advisor, responsible for oversight and implementation of ground, chemical, missile, nuclear, space, and directed energy weapons safety programs and policy, ensuring compliance public law and Defense Department, Energy Department, and Transportation Department federal agency policies.
Washington retired from the Air Force after serving more than 23 years and has been a Defense Department civil servant for nearly 15 years. He is a graduate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University with degrees in management, professional aeronautics, and weapons systems technology. He holds certifications in aerospace safety and as a certified safety and health manager. He has been awarded numerous military service medals and the Exemplary Civilian Service Award. Washington is a member of the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Alumni Association, a member of the National Safety Council, a lifetime member of the Chappie James American Legion Post 776 and the first African American in the Army National Guard to attain both the Career Program 12 American National Standards Institute Safety and Occupational Health Professional and Explosives Safety Profession Level 1 certificates.
Minnesota Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Mercedes Catchings is the newly appointed unit deployment and training manager for the 133rd Logistics Readiness Squadron in the Minnesota Air National Guard, serving as a Title 32 technician. She is responsible for insuring squadron readiness for future deployments. She maintains the training records for more than 100 members and coordinates the state tuition reimbursement program. Her responsibilities include the coordination of each member’s upgrade training, enrolling members in required training courses and preparing and maintaining the unit’s deployment readiness reports to commanding officers. Catchings also serves as the unit’s orders specialist.
Before becoming her unit’s and training manager, Catchings was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Individual Equipment Unit, where she ran a team of individuals in supporting all clothing and equipment requirements for the entire 133rd Airlift Wing. She has acted as a mentor and trainer for young airman while in this role. Additionally, she is leading by example through volunteering for a deployment as part of current contingency operations. Catchings originally joined the Air Force Reserve in 2010 as a material management apprentice. She later transferred to the Air National Guard in the same career field, bringing years of expertise.
Since joining the Air Force, Catchings has continued her personal self-growth by acquired an associate’s degree in early childhood education, a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and another associates degree from the Community College of the Air Force in logistics.
Active in her community, Catchings volunteers for numerous organizations such as Salvation Army and Feed My Starving Children. She has been an instrumental participant in the 133rd Air Wing Diversity Through Inclusion Program, assisting recruiting by going to local schools and events, speaking to our youth about the great opportunities available in the Air National Guard.
Kansas Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Moses K. Tum is a finance management technician for the Comptroller Flight, 184th Intelligence Wing, Kansas Air National Guard, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. Tum provides customer service for military and civilian personnel. He also interprets and supplements financial directives, prepares, verifies, computes, processes, and audits pay transactions for military and civilian personnel. Additionally, he processes, verifies, and audits travel claims, estimates travel costs, determines fund availability, and performs followup on outstanding orders for travelers.
Tum was born in Kenya into a farming family. As a young child, he dreamed of studying in America. During his freshman year at Jomo Kenyatta University he trained himself as a runner in an effort to earn an athletic scholarship at an American university. Tum immigrated to the United States in 2002 to attend college at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, running as a middle-distance specialist, despite having no prior competitive athletic experience. His senior year, he won the 1,500-meter race at the outdoor NCAA Division II National Track and Field Championship. In 2005 Tum graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. As a student-athlete he had trained with both U.S. Air Force Academy and Air Force ROTC cadets, and feeling a desire to give back to his adopted country, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2008.
Upon graduation from technical school, Tum was stationed at the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell. While stationed at there, he set multiple wing-level run-time records while completing his annual fitness assessment. Tum was selected to represent the United States in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire games in Bulgaria in 2010 and in England in 2011. Following his assignment at McConnell, Tum completed assignments in South Korea and Alaska.
In 2016, Tum left active duty to pursue his dream of working in the medical profession. He is enrolled as a full-time student in the School of Nursing at Wichita State University, Kansas. With a desire of continuing his service to his country, he enlisted in the Kansas Air National Guard as a drill-status guardsman. Following graduation his goal is to work as an intensive care unit nurse and to continue his Air National Guard service as a member of the nurse corps. Tum and his wife, Bridget, have two children: Jeffrey and Rose.
Audie K. Sanders serves as the Air Force Equal Opportunity and Equal Employment Opportunity Program manager, where he manages and oversees military and civilian programs. He provides guidance on all aspects of the program and related quality-of-life issues and programs that affect readiness of all active, reserve and Air National Guard Air Force personnel. He develops and administers Air Force policy regarding military and civilian requirements covering military and civilian complaint processing, human relations education and organizational climate assessments for more than 300,000 airmen.
In his previous assignment, Sanders was the Air National Guard Equal Opportunity Program manager for the National Guard Bureau in Washington. In that capacity, he managed the Air Guard’s program for 54 states and territories and the District of Columbia from a joint perspective and provided strategic policy support to the Guard Bureau’s chief. His duties included developing operational policies and procedures for proper execution of the Military Equal Opportunity Program and the Civilian Equal Employment Opportunity Program for more than 400,000 soldiers and airmen. He assessed the effectiveness of equal-opportunity programs at the installation and joint force headquarters level and provided recommendations for corrective action, as appropriate.
Sanders has an extensive background and knowledge of program management, equal opportunity, equal employment opportunity, diversity management, formal training, human resources and personnel management. He enjoys physical activity, mentoring, and spending time with his family. He is enrolled at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He has a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of Tampa, and an associate degree in information systems from the Community College of the Air Force.
Sanders is a 2012 recipient of the NAACP Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award. In 2007, he received the Lockheed Martin Celebration of Excellence Award. In 2006, he received the Air National Guard’s Equal Opportunity Officer of the Year Award. In 2004, he received the Lockheed Martin Most Valuable Player Award.
Air Force Capt. Levicy F. Crawford is the deputy staff judge advocate for the 8th Fighter Wing, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. In this position, she helps lead the base legal staff in advising and delivering legal services to the commanders and military members of the wing in support of the defense of the Korean Peninsula.
Crawford received her commission through the Direct Appointment Program in February 2012. Since entering active duty, she has served as assistant chief and chief of civil law, as adverse actions chief, and as special victims’ counsel at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Crawford is admitted to practice law before the Louisiana Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.
Crawford received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Grambling State University, Grambling, Louisiana, in 2006. In 2010, she went on to earn her Juris Doctor from Southern University Law Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 2012, she graduated from Commissioned Officer Training and Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Crawford also completed Squadron Officer School at Maxwell in 2015.
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Winstone O. Nisbet is the security forces manager for the 459th Security Forces Squadron, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. He is the senior enlisted advisor to the commander and provides overall management and guidance to 150 assigned personnel. Nisbet oversees a large security forces unit manpower document and advises the commander on the most efficient utilization of forces and recommends and implements organizational change. Additionally, he assesses factors affecting morale and quality of life of assigned personnel, and advises and assists members on career field progression, promotion, retention, assignments and special duty options.
Nisbet grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and entered the Air Force in 2005 after serving nine and a half years on active duty in the U.S. Army as a field artillery surveyor with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He served as fire team leader, squad leader and operations superintendent. Nisbet’s assignments include Joint Base Andrews and overseas deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kosovo and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Southwest Asia.
Nisbet has two master’s degrees from Trident University, California: in business administration and health science. He also has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Trident University. He graduated in 2007 and 2012, respectively, from the Air Force’s noncommissioned officer and senior noncommissioned officer academies. In 2012, he graduated from the Air Force’s joint senior enlisted professional military education course. He also has an associate degrees in criminal justice and a professional manager certificate, both from the Community College of the Air Force. Nisbet’s major awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Unit Award and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
"As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
President Barack Obama
National African American History Month, also known as National Black History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans, and a time for recognizing the central role they have played in the history of the United States.
In June 1839, Joseph Cinque and 53 others were abducted from their home in Sierra Leone by Portuguese slave traders. Aboard the schooner Amistad, Cinque led a successful revolt against the crew. On March 9, 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court freed the 35 Africans who survived the ordeal and cleared their passage back to their home on the West African coast.
Charles Lenox Remond was one of the earliest recorded black abolitionist speakers. At 18, he traveled from his home in Massachusetts to London for the World Anti-Slavery Convention and remained abroad for many years to lecture on abolition in universities across the United Kingdom. During the Civil War, he recruited blacks and helped to staff the first two all-black units from Massachusetts.
The Montgomery bus boycott began when Rosa Parks, a black protestor, refused to give up her seat for a white man on the bus. Parks was a politically active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People long before her actions on that day and came from a family of activists. On that day in 1955, the unassuming actions of the "mother of the civil rights movement" echoed throughout the country.
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is known as the first settler of present-day Chicago. As a merchant and farmer of the region, Point du Sable established both a prosperous farm in an area otherwise unsettled, and an affable relationship with local Native American tribes. After the Revolutionary War, his farm prospered greatly. Travelers as far as the east coast knew of the Point du Sable Farm as one of the only sources of farmed produce in the area.
The largest plantation house in Florida is the Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island. The main house was built by slaves in 1738 and was sold to Zephaniah Kingsley and his African wife, Anna Madgigine Jai in 1815. When the U.S. gained possession of Florida in 1821, Kingsley fought against laws that greatly prohibited the activities of slaves and free blacks and even wrote a major treatise on the subject. Even though he owned slaves, he was a strong believer in treating people according to their abilities, not their color.
Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist whose depiction of her own suffering focused attention on the plight of blacks throughout the South. In 1964, she worked with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, organizing the Freedom Summer voter registration drive in Mississippi. Hamer's tombstone is inscribed with her famous quote, "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."
Founded in 1738, Fort Mose Settlement was the first community of free ex-slaves. It was located at a Spanish colony in Florida called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose. Before the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves could escape to the colony and get their freedom when they declared their allegiance to the king of Spain and joined the Roman Catholic Church.
Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
The Underground Railroad was a loosely organized network of connections for slaves escaping to the North. Homes or "stations" would provide food and shelter for escaping slaves and the leader of the group, or "conductor," ensured that they moved safely from station to station. It is estimated that close to 100,000 fugitive slaves used the railroad between 1810 and 1860, the majority of whom escaped from Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland.
When he escaped slavery in 1838, Frederick Douglass landed in New York and began to astonish America with his intellect and rhetorical skills. He used his knowledge and talents to change the way Americans thought about race, slavery, and American democracy. Even after his death, over a century ago, his legacy endures. Every day people are inspired by his resilient advocacy for civil rights and political awareness.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the "Harlem Hellfighters," was among the first regiments to arrive in France, and it became one of the most highly decorated units. An all-black regiment under the command of mostly white officers including its commander, Col. William Hayward, the 369th spent 191 days in combat, longer than any other American unit in the war. Hayward described his unit by saying, "My men never retire, they go forward or they die."
In addition to being the first black author to win a Pulitzer Prize, Gwendolyn Brooks was a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress and the poet laureate of Illinois.
Although Adolf Hitler intended the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games to be a showcase for the Nazi ideology of Aryan racial supremacy, it was a black man who left the biggest imprint on that year’s games. In one of the greatest performances in Olympic history, American track star Jesse Owens earned gold in the 100 meters, long jump, 200 meters, and 4×100 meter relay, a feat that would not be matched until American Carl Lewis did the same at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
In February 1944, the Navy commissioned its first African-American officers. This long-hoped-for action represented a major step forward in the status of African Americans in the Navy, and in American society. The twelve commissioned officers and a warrant officer, who received his rank at the same time, became known as the "Golden Thirteen."
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1924, Shirley Chisholm is best known for becoming the first black congresswoman. Elected in 1968, Chisholm represented New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms. She went on to run for the 1972 Democratic nomination for the presidency and became the first major-party African-American candidate and the first female to do so.
Ralph Abernathy was the pastor of Montgomery’s First Baptist Church and one of the most prolific Freedom Riders of the movement. Abernathy, a good friend of Martin Luther King Jr., helped to lead the Montgomery bus boycott and later took over as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after King’s assassination.
Alice Walker is a novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist, and activist. In 1983, her novel "The Color Purple" was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Her creative vision is rooted in the economic hardship, racial terror, and folk wisdom of African American life and culture in the rural South. Walker became active in the civil rights movement while she attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and was later invited to the home of Martin Luther King Jr., in recognition of her attendance at the Youth World Peace Festival in Finland.
Mary McLeod Bethune was the founder of the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training school for Negro Girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. The school formally opened in October 1904 with five students enrolled. In 1929, Bethune merged with the Cookman Institute and became co-ed.
Doris "Dorie" Miller enlisted in the Navy in 1939 as a mess attendant and worked his way up to cook. While serving aboard the USS West Virginia, he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion. Miller distinguished himself by courageous conduct and devotion to duty during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when he carried injured sailors to safety, manned a machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship. He was awarded the Navy Cross.
On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. This landmark law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations, in publicly owned or operated facilities, in employment and union membership, and in the registration of voters.
In 1942, the commandant of the Marine Corps issued formal instructions to recruit qualified African-American men. The men who enlisted in response completed recruit training at Montford Point in North Carolina. Between 1942 and 1949, about 20,000 African-American men completed recruit training and became known as the "Montford Point Marines." Their efforts proved their courage and paved the way for integrated armed forces. By 1949, training was desegregated.
On April 7, 1940, the U.S. Post Office Department issued a stamp honoring Booker T. Washington (1856–1915) as part of its famous americans series. Born a slave in Hale’s Ford, Virginia, he served as a role model for other struggling African-Americans. In 1888, Washington founded Alabama’s Tuskegee Normal Industrial School, and wasrenamed Tuskegee Institute in 1937. Washington’s stamp was the first U.S. stamp to honor an African American.
When Phillis Wheatley was seized from Senegal in 1760, she was only 7 years old. After arriving in Boston, the young girl was sold to John and Susanna Wheatley, who taught Phillis to read and write. By the time she was 18, Phillis had written a collection of 28 poems and, with the help of Susanna Wheatley, sent them off to a London publisher. Phillis was the abolitionists’ illustrative testimony that blacks could be both artistic and intellectual. Her first volume of poems, "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral," 1773, became the first book of poetry published by a black woman.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey chose Robinson because of his excellent athletic record and strength of character. Robinson was a well-rounded athlete, served in the Army, and was active in the civil rights movement.
In 1959, a young African-American songwriter named Berry Gordy founded Motown Records Corporation. Motown was the first African-American owned record label to reach widespread national acclaim. It broke down racial prejudice by becoming the most successful independent record company in history and the most successful African-American owned business in America. The distinctive, upbeat and uplifting music brought together pop and soul, white and black, and old and young.
Langston Hughes was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance, the African-American artistic movement in the 1920s that celebrated black life and culture. He was influenced by his life in New York City’s Harlem, a primarily African-American neighborhood. Through his poetry, novels, plays, essays, and children’s books, he promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice, and celebrated African-American culture, humor, and spirituality.
In June 1967, Air Force Maj. Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., successfully completed the Air Force Flight Test Pilot Training School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. That same month, he was selected by NASA to participate in the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program, thus becoming the first African-American astronaut. He died in a crash while working as an instructor pilot at Edwards Air Force Base December 8, 1967. He never got to go into space.