SAN DIEGO – The officers and crew of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) celebrated Women’s History Month with a special program on board the ship featuring a member of the San Diego City Council as the guest speaker, March 27.
Councilmember Myrtle Cole, the first African-American woman elected to serve on the San Diego City Council and the first woman to represent the city’s 4th district, visited the ship and spoke to the crew as part of the celebration.
The theme of this year’s Women’s History Month observance was “Women of Character, Courage and Commitment” and Green Bay’s program was sponsored by the ship’s diversity council.
Once on board, Cole toured the ship and spoke to the crew about the importance of following personal dreams. She stressed the importance of helping others with what she describes as “a servant’s heart” and her plans to improve housing, restaurants and recreational areas in her district.
A native of Tucson, Ariz., and a former member of the Tucson Police Department, Cole said she moved to San Diego to continue policing and to help improve the quality of life for all.
Cole explained how she felt that women should feel empowered and sometimes a little push is all it takes. She said she has worked on numerous campaigns for women running for political office and helped them accomplish more than they thought they could do on their own.
Once Cole was finished speaking, she cut the cake with Capt. Greg Huffman, the ship’s commanding officer, to celebrate all women who have made a difference and pushed the boundaries of the status quo.
Several Sailors said they made a personal connection with Cole during her visit to the ship.
“Even though women were given rights years ago, it hasn’t really come to a head until now,” said Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class T’Quilla Williams, from Meridian, Miss. “It is amazing to be a part of the time when women are really making history and big steps, and I get to witness it firsthand. It was an inspiration to see how Councilmember Cole not only has made those steps herself but also has helped other women take positions in political office.”
Cole’s remarks also resonated with Seaman Murphy Costigan, a native of Alexandria, Va., who escorted the councilmember during her visit to the ship.
“I joined the diversity council to learn what each culture has to offer and I thought this would be a good opportunity to do this at my work place,” said Costigan. “Councilmember Cole is a representation of how to follow your goals and achieve greatness without letting any obstacles gets in your way. I hope more women follow in her path into leadership position in the military. Her hard work and dedication truly inspire me to achieve all my goals!”
Cole’s visit not only inspired the women aboard Green Bay to achieve great things and better their careers, but also spoke to the men in the room about fighting through a struggle and making a difference.
“It was a pleasure being involved with the diversity council in welcoming Councilwoman Cole to USS Green Bay,” said Seaman Mike Messina, a member of the ship’s diversity council from Hingham, Mass. “Cole was very inspiring in telling us all that with the guidance and support of others we can be whatever we want. This was a refreshing reminder for me to always be grateful for the encouraging and unconditional support of my leadership that I am so blessed to have at this command.”
The event was organized to recognize diversity in the Navy and to recognize many of the challenges of gender inequality that the country has successfully faced and overcame. Green Bay’s program also supported the Secretary of the Navy's focus on inclusion as part of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative.
The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion, and continuum of service which builds resiliency and hones the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.