“AN NNOA 75TH REMEMBRANCE OF D-DAY, THE 6TH OF JUNE 1944 – AN UNKOWN PERSPECTIVE”
By Roosevelt “Rick” Wright, Jr., Ph.D., CAPT., USNR(ret) – Historian, National Naval Officers Association
As we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, the 6th of June 1944, the National Naval Officers Association would like to present a major “Bravo Zulu” to the veterans, living and dead, who participated in Operations Overlord. This amphibious invasion of the Shores of France at Normandy, was fought to bring a massive assault to the Axis powers of Europe. In this air and sea campaign composing of thousands of Soldiers, Airmen, Naval, and Coast Guard personnel, African-American membership was over 2,000 participants. Although participation of African-American servicemen was regulated to service units of Quartermasters, Engineers, Transportation, and Mess Attendants. We must remember, that African-American Service members did serve in demanding combat roles. In making a historical analysis of the contributions of African-Americans in combat roles, most writers of the era have placed a “level of invisibility,” to this effort. But there is an “Unknown Perspective” of combat contributions of African-American personnel on that fateful day, that many historians call – “The Longest Day.”
“Operation Overlord” was the major code name for this operation, but the Naval and Coast Guard effort was entitled, “Operation Neptune.” Serving on board the many Naval Ships and Coast Guard Cutters were African-American sailors who were part of those crews. For example, Seaman John Roberts, U.S. Coast Guard, served a part of the crew of USS LCI-93, as was injured, as they delivered infantry solders to Omaha Beach. Also, on board, Coast Guard Manned LCVP’s, LST’s, and 83 Footers, African-American seaman were performing extraordinary duties during the height of this mammoth environment of battle and human carnage. Further combat actions can also be attribute to the gallant work of African-American sailors, who were serving as mainly mess cooks and stewards on board the vast array of Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, Transports, and Supply Ships of the Naval Fleet.
On board a Coast Guard Manned LCT, combat history was made when the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, an all African-American Army Combat unit was delivered to the shores of Omaha Beach. This unit was trained to launch large balloons, with bombs in them. This enabled an array of “sky flying balloons,” floating in a manner to stop German aircraft from attacking the troops landing on the beach. One of many heroes that day was, African-American Corporal Waverly B. Woodson, Jr., U.S. Army Medic, who despite serious injuries, setup a hospital on Omaha Beach, work for 30 hours straight hours, and provided medical care for hundreds of seriously wounded combat soldiers.
There are many unknown stories of African-American Service Members who participated in the horrific events of 6 June 1944, but on this the 75th Anniversary of that Fateful Day, the National Naval Officers Association Membership, would like to “Simply Honor Their Sacrifices and Struggle,” during a period of “Racial Discrimination,” in WWII, within the Ranks of The U.S. Armed Forces. May we continue the “Remembrance of D-Day,” to the ranks of those that served and fought, who are all “passing away,” to heaven, as many are now in the 90th year of their birth.
Roosevelt “Rick” Wright, Jr., Ph.D., CAPT., USNR (Ret.)
Historian – National Naval Officers Association
DOD Announces Winners of the 2019 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan announced the 2019 recipients of the Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence.
The Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence recognizes the outstanding and innovative efforts of the people who operate and maintain U.S. military installations. The five recipients of this highly competitive presidential award were selected for their exemplary support of Department of Defense missions.
Recipients of the 2019 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence are:
Naval Base San Diego, California
Commanding Officer: Capt. Roy Love, U.S. Navy
On Friday, May 3, 2019, longtime NNOA member and DCNNOA member CAPT Robert A. Dews, Jr. USN held his Retirement Ceremony at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. CAPT Dews was born in Washington, DC and raised in Capitol Heights, Maryland. He attended Southern University A&M in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology Magna Cum Laude in 1988. He received his commission as an Aviation Maintenance Duty Officer after completing Aviation Officers Candidate School (ACOS) in Pensacola, Florida in May 1989. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from New Hampshire College and is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR). CAPT Dews is also a graduate of the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS and the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA and is a Joint Qualified Officer. CAPT Dews served 30 years in the Navy in a variety of sea and shore assignments. At sea, his assignments included: Maintenance Material Control Officer, USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) and USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73).
Captain Dews previous shore assignments included: Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD), Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico where he served as the Aircraft Maintenance Division Officer and Quality Assurance Officer from September 1989 to August 1991. Commanding Officer of the Oklahoma City Military Entrance Processing Station from November 2001 to March 2004. Lead Analyst in the Office of the Deputy Assistant, Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Environment) in support of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. In 2005 he served as Executive Officer and subsequently served as Commanding Officer of Navy Recruiting District Dallas from June 2007 to January 2009. From March 2009 through February 2012 he served as Officer in Charge of the Navy’s recruiting training center, the Navy Recruiting Orientation Unit at NAS Pensacola. From April 2012 to July 2013 he served as the Director of Personal and Family Readiness (OPNAV N135F). CAPT Dews later served as the Deputy Director for Diversity for the Navy Recruiting Command from August 2013 to February 2014 and as the Director of Operations (N3) of the Navy Recruiting Command from March 2014 to August 2015. In August 2015 CAPT Dews reported to his current and final Navy assignment as the Director of Safety for the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
CAPT Dews achieved a number of significant accomplishments during his career which included VFA-136 Maintenance Officer of the Year in 1993 and Officer of the Year Award for NAS Patuxent River in 1996. His military decorations include the following: Legion of Merit (two awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards) as well as various campaign and service awards.
The Guest Speaker for CAPT Dews Retirement Ceremony was Admiral Craig S. Faller, USN Commander, United States Southern Command. The Master of Ceremony was CAPT Donald Kennedy, USN. Dignitaries in attendance included RADM (Retired) Sinclair Harris, USN and Current President of the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA), RADM (Retired) Julius Caesar, USN, former NNOA National Presidents CAPT (Retired) Bernard Jackson, USN, CAPT (Retired) Anthony P. Barnes, USN and Colonel (Retired) Robert Clements, USMC. CAPT Dews was also presented with an award from the Annapolis Chapter of his fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. CAPT Dews was joined in the ceremony by his wife, daughter, son, Mother, sister and numerous other family members and friends.
As in true Navy tradition the ceremony was “superb”! “Best Wishes” are forwarded to CAPT Dews and his family for 30 years of distinguished service to this nation and the United States Navy from all his friends and colleagues within the National Naval Officers Association!