ORLANDO, Fla. -- Six Jacksonville, Fla. area Sailors were awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Armed Forces and Veterans Meritorious Service Award during the 35th annual Freedom Dinner in Orlando, Florida June 20.
The award recognizes men and women who have distinguished themselves during the Global War on Terror, and have made significant contributions to the advancement of African Americans and other minorities through their efforts of promoting equal opportunity in the federal work place and serving the community they live in.
"It was a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to be part of this program and for the NAACP to recognize our men and women in uniform,” said retired Air Force General Lloyd Newton, the guest speaker for the event who was the first African American pilot assigned to the Thunderbirds. "The award represents a long lasting relationship between the NAACP and the military. The award is one way for our service members to be recognized for what they do to ensure the freedoms that all of the citizens of this nation enjoy and to promote diversity in the military and in the community.”
Sailors receiving the awards were, Cmdr. Dana Gordon, commanding officer of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 42 (HSL-42); Lt. j.g. Orenthal Adderson of USS John L. Hall (FFG 32); Chief Damage Controlman (SW) Gregory Pinson of USS Vicksburg (CG 69); Yeoman 1st Class (AW) Dana Axson of Navy Region Southeast Reserve Component Command; Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW) Chris Leonard of USS Doyle (FFG 39); and Yeoman 1st Class (SW/AW) Delores Cox of Navy Recruiting District Jacksonville.
“It is an honor to be recognized for educating the youth and supporting diversity,” said Pinson, who serves as the command managed equal opportunity (CMEO) officer for Vicksburg.
AS the CMEO officer, Pinson provided regular training to more than 300 Sailors; coordinated celebrations for Martin Luther King Day, African American History, Asian Pacific, Hispanic, and American Indian Heritage months; and spoke at area high schools about the tremendous opportunities the military has to offer.
Gordon, who speaks at schools and colleges promoting diversity and the Navy in the Jacksonville community and other parts of the country and is spearheading efforts to become the first helicopter squadron to deploy female enlisted maintenance personnel on board smaller ships, said that the award meant a lot to him and that “Ultimately, promoting diversity will always benefit the mission of any organization.”