The month of October celebrates the birthday of the Navy. This year the Navy turn’s 240-years-old. The Navy was established by the Continental Congress on October 13, 1775 to search for munition ships supplying the British Army stationed in America. The Navy fleet consisted of approximately 50 ships over the course of the war. Also, the Navy celebrates Navy Day sponsored by the Navy League in 1922 to be observed on October 27th in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1972, Admiral Zumwalt, Chief of Naval Operations, recognized October 13th as the Navy’s birthday to “enhance a greater appreciation of our Navy heritage, and to provide a positive influence toward pride and professionalism in the naval service” (Nov. 2015 Military.com)
African American’s have fought in every war and conflict since the beginning of the United States of America. They have always been at the forefront of the fight for America against tyranny, oppression and bullying. Highlighted here are a few African American military men and women who bravely fought in American Wars.
Admiral Michelle Janine Howard– Admiral Howard was the first African American female Admiral in the United States Navy. She is the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations. She was the first African American woman to achieve a three star rank. She was the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Rushmore. She was the first Admiral selected from the U.S. Naval class of 1982. She was the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for flag rank. She was the first woman to become a four star admiral. She is the first African American and the first woman to hold the post of Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Admiral Howard served in the Persian Gulf War. In addition, this extraordinary Admiral’s real life heroism, excellence, and bravery is documented in the movie Captain Phillips where her mission was to bring Captain Phillips back unharmed after being high jacked and taken hostage. Through Admiral Howard’s diligence, Captain Phillips was rescued (NavyNewsService, 2012). On October 30, 2015 Admiral Michelle Janine Howard received the Medal of Honor presented by the Union League of Philadelphia.
Private First Class Milton Olive III an African American soldier was still only 18-years-of-age, when he heroically gave his life to save four of his fellow soldiers. On October 27, 1965 during the Vietnam War, Pvt. Olive was in the jungles of Pho Cuong with four fellow soldiers when a grenade was thrown in their path. Pvt. Olive quickly grabbed the grenade, stuffed it in his shirt and covered it with his body taking the full blast and saving the other four solders. For his bravery, Pvt. Olive received, posthumously the Medal of Honor. The four men whose lives he saved that day in Vietnam are, Platoon Leader Vince Yrineo, who keeps a piece of Pvt. Olive’s dog tag. Lionel Hubbard for the most part has moved on. He stated, “I didn’t lose anything over there.” Jimmy Stanford has found God. And John Foster is still struggling with race issues concerning African Americans (Corregidor Historical society, 1999-2011).
On this day, we honor all veteran’s both living and dead and we thank them for their selfless sacrifices.