President Barack Obama reminds all Americans to pay homage to our fallen patriots and heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy our basic freedoms.
In this week’s address from the White House, President Obama commemorated Memorial Day by honoring the brave men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country. As we stand with our veterans and military families this weekend, the President underscored his commitment to uphold our nation’s sacred trust with our veterans and ensure they get the benefits and opportunities they deserve and have earned.
First Lady Michelle Obama played hostess to a royal on Thursday, as Britain’s Prince Harry dropped by to kick off a weeklong visit to the U.S. The soldier-prince and Mrs. Obama hosted a pre-Mother’s Day tea for a group of military moms and their kids, with the prince even chipping in as the kids made gift bags for their mothers.
After that, Harry headed off to the Russell Senate Office Building, where he was treated like a rock star by a crowd of about 500 screaming onlookers (mostly women and girls). Back home, Harry serves as a co-pilot gunner in the British Army, and has served in Afghanistan. Championing military families has been one of Mrs. Obama’s signature causes, along with Dr. Jill Biden, her partner in the Joining Forces initiative.
Award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone is clear about why she’s written her new nonfiction book, “Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers” (Candlewick Press, $24.99). “I want to help the Triple Nickles become as well-known as the Tuskegee Airmen,” Stone says.
The Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots in the U.S. military, are now an integral part of the history of World War II. Far fewer people, however, have heard of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion — nicknamed the “Triple Nickles” — and the unit’s pioneering efforts to open up paratrooper jobs during World War II.
In her meticulously researched, well-written book, Stone tells the story of how the 555th was established in 1943 — a unit with black soldiers and black officers, the first-ever black U.S. paratroopers.
The unit’s nickname was a nod to the Buffalo Soldiers, as the African-American regiments in the U.S. Civil War and later were called. The “Triple Nickles” name also connects to the buffalo image that was stamped on American nickels for many years.
It took Stone 10 years, working off and on, to write “Courage Has No Color.” It was definitely worth the wait, as Stone movingly portrays the inspiring courage, determination and persistence displayed by African-American servicemen in the face of overwhelming racial prejudice in the U.S. military. It’s a story that Stone strongly believes should be much better known than it is. “These men are almost not with us anymore,” Stone says, noting that many of the Triple Nickles are in their 90s.
Brigadier General Nadja West, deputy chief of staff, G-1/4/6 for the United States Army Medical Command, will be promoted to Major General. This promotion will make West the first African-American two-star general in the United States Army Medical Command.
West graduated from the U.S. Military Academy with a bachelor of science in engineering and attended the George Washington University School of Medicine, where she earned a Doctorate of Medicine degree. She completed an internship and a residency in family practice at the Martin Army Hospital. Dr. West did a second residency in dermatology at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center and the University of Colorado Medical Center.
Later, she was assigned chief of dermatology service at the Heidelberg Army Hospital in Germany, and served as the division surgeon of 1st Armored Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, deploying to Macedonia and Kosovo as the deputy task force surgeon. She graduated from the National War College, earning a master’s degree in national security strategy. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Family Practice.
On Friday, Gen. Lloyd Austin became the first African-American leader of the U.S. Central Command, which has a wide-ranging area of responsibility for 20 countries in the Middle East and southwest Asia. It’s not the first time in his 37-year career that he’s broken barriers for black members of the Army. He was also the first African American to serve in his previous position as the vice chief of staff.
Earlier this month Olaolu Ogunyemi graduated from Grambling State University in Louisiana. He also was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He is the first Grambling student to receive a Marine Corps commission in nearly 40 years. Grambling State University does not have a Marine ROTC program, so Lt. Ogunyemi had to navigate the program on his own.
Ogunyemi is a native of Simsboro, Louisiana. His father is director of institutional research at Grambling and his mother is the acting chair of the department of educational leadership at the university.
Ogunyemi will now report for additional Marine Corps training in Quantico, Virginia.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama paid tribute at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington Memorial Cemetery to “the heroes over the generations who have served this country of ours with distinction.” He said the wreath he laid earlier at Tomb of the Unknowns was intended to “remember every service member who has ever worn our nation’s uniform.”
In a speech at the Memorial Amphitheater, he said America will never forget the sacrifice made by its veterans and their families. “No ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service,” the president said, adding that the country must commit every day “to serving you as well as you’ve served us.”
Already the highest-ranking African-American female in the U.S. Army, Gen. Marcia Anderson’s recent promotion to the rank of major general makes her the first black woman to hold the title in the history of the military branch.
Anderson formerly served as a deputy-commanding general of the human resources command in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Now in the third highest-ranking position in the army, Gen. Anderson will now be stationed at the office of the chief of the U.S. Army Reserve in Washington, D.C.
The 30-year vet spoke to the Associated Press following her promotion. In her interview, the general spoke of the limited opportunities available for blacks prior to and the immediate years following World War II that affected many African-Americans, including her father.
“This is for people like him who had dreams deferred,” Anderson to the AP referring to her father’s failed dream of flying bombers during his time in the military. Her dad drove trucks instead because of the narrow opportunities for blacks at the time.
Anderson assumed her new post on September 30 in Washington, D.C.