Commentary

February 22, 2013

African-American leaders thrive through education

Tags:
Martha Lockwood
Air Force News Service

AA
(AFNS) — It’s difficult to know when or how inspiration will strike, or who provides the personification that in our mind’s eye, we become. For some, it is a favorite teacher or an historical figure. For others, it is a parent. And for others, it may be a fictional character who helps us see how things might be. There is one constant in each example, however: education. Nobody achieves through dumb luck, but through education and application.

Della Rainey probably didn’t realize she was embarking on a career as a role model when she set out to attend the school of nursing at Lincoln Hospital in Durham, N.C. Endowed by the Duke family and accredited by the American Medical Association, Lincoln Hospital was one of the first African-American teaching hospitals. Rainey, who graduated in the 1930s, was the first African-American nurse to enter the Army Nurse Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C, getting promoted to chief nurse in 1942, and serving at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Ala., as a lieutenant. Rainey would ultimately be promoted to major, retiring in 1978. Her legacy of learning lives in the Della H. Rainey Nursing Scholarship, established by the Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation and the National Black Nurses Association.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Thomas N. Barnes is the first and only African-American to serve as Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, the highest enlisted position within the Air Force. Barnes entered the Air Force in 1949, as a high school graduate. Throughout his 28-year career, Barnes made the most of every educational opportunity while serving his country in the continental United States, Hawaii, Japan and Southeast Asia. He is a graduate of the Senior NCO Academy pilot class of 1973. He served as CMSAF for an unprecedented four years, working for equal opportunities for minorities, including blacks and women, and also worked to strengthen the enlisted professional military education system. He once said that he wanted to be remembered “as a role model for people who believe they can’t get there.”

For a select few, Air Force and education are synonymous. Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, the longest serving Airman at nearly 47 years, entered the Air Force right after high school in 1965. During the course of the next 10 years, he would serve his country in North Dakota, Vietnam, the Philippines, Texas, South Carolina and Greece while earning a bachelor’s degree. A year later, in 1976, he had earned a master’s degree. He was promoted to master sergeant and was approved to attend Officer Training School. In 1978, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the financial management career field. More education and promotions followed as Flowers served at the Pentagon three times, with intermittent stints at the Air Combat Command in Langley, Va., and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair, Washington. When he retired, his “blueprint for success” was heralded as “a strong work ethic coupled with an earnest desire for self-improvement and a genuine concern for others while maintaining a positive attitude….”

Retired Maj. Gen Marcelite Harris, the first African-American female general, broke gender and racial barriers throughout her career as she excelled in her educational pursuits. Commissioned as a second lieutenant after attending Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Harris’ early assignments were as an administrative officer. She transitioned into the maintenance field by attending the aircraft maintenance officer’s course at Chanute AFB, Ill. Her first assignment, at Korat Royal Thai air base in support of the Vietnam War, was just a prelude to her future accomplishments. She was one of the first women to be an air officer commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and in 1991 she became the first female African-American general. Even in retirement, Harris continues to serve and to learn as a member of the Academy Board of Visitors.

As we observe African-American History Month, the heroes among us, past and present, take shape through the real-world application of their never-ending educations. Each in his or her way exhibits a love of learning that is exceeded only by their dedication to duty.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 FightingFalcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat sce...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar

Lessons learned: Deployment exercise gives new insight

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar Master Sgt. Nicholas Alessi, New Horizons engineer 820th RED HORSE Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., lays block at the Edward P. Yorke school construction site April 9...
 
 
CMSAF1

CMSAF Cody visits Nellis Airmen

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, James A. Cody speaks to 99th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen about surveying equipment July 17, during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Cody visited various units to experience first-han...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kiuta B. Ika

Dempsey takes reins of NTTR

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kiuta B. Ika Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, passes the Nevada Test and Training Range guidon to the new NTTR commander, Col. Thomas E. Dempsey III, during a c...
 
 
1000-hours

Pilot reaches milestone, achieves 1000 flight hours

Maj. Matt Allen, a 706th Reserve Squadron full-time air reserve technician who is assigned to the 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron as an F-22 test director, stands by an F-22 Raptor before flight July 21, at Nellis Air Force B...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

Fuels management flight takes on Red Flag 14-3 full force

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis Senior Airman Daniel Millard, 419th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels journeyman, prepares to fuel an aircraft participating in Red Flag 14-3, July 22, at Nellis Air Force...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin