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NAACP Salutes DoD's Equal Opportunity Efforts at Annual Convention

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2006 – The NAACP honored Defense Department military and civilian personnel who made outstanding contributions to equal opportunity in the armed forces during the civil rights organizations 31st Annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards dinner here July 18.

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Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kim Evans (left) and Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Baker serve as sentries during the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony at the NAACP 31st Annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., July 18. Baker and Evans are members of the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon. Photo by Rudi Williams
  

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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held its annual convention here this week.

This year, the National Guard Bureau was highlighted during the awards dinner for its effort in equal opportunity and diversity policies and programs. The bureau was also cited of its efforts to ensure reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

Servicemembers and DoD civilians received NAACP distinguished service awards for outstanding service to the nation during the global war on terrorism and outstanding contributions to equal opportunity and human relations.

"For 31 yeas, the NAACP has rewarded the outstanding equal opportunity and civil rights contributions of military personnel, veterans and civilian employees," said Marjorie Green of the NAACP national board of directors. "Each year, the NAACP highlights a different branch of the armed services on a rotating basis. This year we are pleased to highlight the National Guard Bureau for their progress in equity and civil rights."

Green told the more than 400 attendees that the NAACP appreciates the role the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments have historically played in the advancement of women and minorities.

"The NAACP will continue to provide you the proper motivation for continued progress," she noted. "We salute your leadership and we pledge to continue to work with you in promoting equal opportunity in today's military and in correcting the wrongs of the past."

The organization traditionally pays tribute at the dinner to fallen African-American heroes. "This tribute honors our military men and women who have served and are serving presently fighting the global war on terrorism," said Jimmy Love, DoD's director of military equal opportunity and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute's liaison. "Many have been wounded, prisoners of war, and others were missing in action. Several gave their last full measure of devotion.

"We include this memorial tribute as part of our awards ceremony because it serves as a reminder to us all that freedom is not free," said Love, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.

Claiborne Haughton Jr., former deputy assistant secretary of defense for equal opportunity, then delivered the memorial message for the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony. National Guard Bureau's Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Baker and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kim Evans served as sentries at the table.

The 2006 NAACP Meritorious Service Award was presented to Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau. The award is awarded annually to a serviceman or woman in uniform in a policy making position for the highest achievement in military equal opportunity.

The 2006 Benjamin L. Hooks Distinguished Service Award was presented to Felton Page, the Guard Bureau's director of equal opportunity and civil rights.

The Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award is awarded annually to a number of military personnel in uniform who have distinguished themselves by contributing to military equal opportunity policies and programs.

This year's recipients are Gregory Chapelle, Army; Lt. Michael D. Files, Navy; Capt. Charles Orgbon Jr., Marine Corps; Carolyn A. Peeler, Air Force; Mary Odom and Phyllis Brantley, National Guard Bureau; Sgt. 1st Class Earnest L. Clemons, Army National Guard; Maj. Kenneth L. Hale Sr., Air National Guard; Joann Miller, Coast Guard; and Constancia Lumpkin, 4th Estate defense agencies.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRear Adm. Stephen W. Rochon, the Coast Guard's only African-American flag officer, chats with an aviation history-making Tuskegee Airman of World War II fame, James Pryde, and his wife, Joy Pryde, of Upper Marlboro, Md., during the NAACP's 31st Annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., July 18. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Master Sgt. Artri Spratling of the National Guard Bureau sings the national anthem during the NAACP 31st Annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., July 18. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJimmy Love, DoD's director of military equal opportunity and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute's liaison, announces one of the winners in the NAACP 31st Annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., July 18. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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