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NAACP Bestows Top Awards on 10 DoD, Coast Guard Personnel

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2001 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People bestowed its top service awards on eight service members and two Defense Department civilian employees recently at its 26th annual Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Awards dinner in New Orleans.

Eight of the honorees received the NAACP's 2001 Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award. Wilkins was executive secretary and executive director of the NAACP for 22 years and established its Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Department in 1969. He was a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He died at age 80 in 1981.

The recipients' services selected them as the most worthy of the award, given annually since 1980 to military and civilian personnel who made distinguishing contributions to military equal opportunity policies and programs.

The Wilkins awardees are:

  • Command Sgt. Maj. Angela L. Brown, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., was cited for more than 25 years of "promoting the tenets of civil and human rights, equal opportunity, affirmative action and public service within the military and civilian communities." Her myriad activities include working as a volunteer career counselor on post and as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes for the underprivileged.

  • Air Force Maj. L. Paulette Jordan of the 15th Air Base Wing's Inspector General Office at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, was honored for her work as founder and director of a multiservice, community-based organization she named Island Unity. The organization promotes harmony and cooperation among the military services, local churches and chapels, and communities.

  • Maj. Gen. John D. Havens, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, was cited for his concern over the diversity, health, strength, comfort and accomplishments of guardsmen and women. Because of his foresight and vision, the Missouri National Guard takes a "proactive posture in understanding the value of the organization's diversity and understanding the importance of a no-nonsense equal opportunity program," his citation says.

  • Lt. Col. Charles E. McKellar, public affairs officer, Connecticut Air National Guard, received the award in recognition of his service as a volunteer probation officer with the juvenile court while residing in New Haven, Conn., and his work with the Cape Fear Chapter of the 100 Black Men in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C. The organization promotes leadership, discipline and mentoring of middle and high school youth and provides scholarships to graduating seniors.

  • Capt. Robert W. Thorne, director of admissions at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., was recognized "for his extraordinary commitment to excellence, diversity and civil rights." "During his tenure, women's representation at the academy grew from 17 percent to 28 percent and is currently the highest of any of the service academies," the citation states. Minority enrollment has increased by 43 percent.

  • Sharon L. Jones, manager of the Defense Information Systems Agency's mentor protg program in Arlington, Va., is credited with developing programs that have increased contracting opportunities for minority businesses and schools, including 11 historically black colleges and universities. She has been president of the Northeastern University Chapter of the NAACP and currently is a volunteer member of the DoD Women Owned Small Business Working Group.

  • Lt. Cmdr. Roger G. Isom of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., was cited for his service on the executive board of the Minority Alumni Committee at the academy; as the officer representative for the Midshipmen Black Studies Club; and as organizer of an program that has academy midshipmen tutor students at a local church.

  • Sgt. Maj. James P. Witherspoon Jr. of the Marine Corps Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., was credited with developing educational and physical fitness programs for youngsters and for his service to churches and other community groups.

The NAACP also presented its Meritorious Service Award to Navy Vice Adm. Thomas R. Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, "for his extraordinary management and leadership in the areas of human resources, equal opportunity, affirmative employment, workforce diversity, management accountability and public service."

M. Renee Coates, assistant director of equal employment programs, Washington Headquarters Service, Office of the Secretary of Defense, received the association's Benjamin L. Hooks Distinguished Service Award for several accomplishments, including administering equal opportunity and diversity programs for the nearly 4,000 civilian employees served by the Washington Headquarters Service.

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