Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, honored the achievements of participants in the civil rights movement at a ceremony hosted by the Afloat Training Group, Middle Pacific (ATG MIDPAC), Feb. 16.
Fuller’s speech centered around this year’s Black History Month theme: “Success Always Leaves Footprints,” and included a brief awards presentation to highlight the achievements of members of ATG MIDPAC.
“People should be judged by what they achieved,” said Fuller following the presentation of the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal to Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Nicholas Allen. Allen received the award as a result of his volunteer work feeding the homeless and supplying schools in Uganda with $2,000 worth of supplies.
Fuller continued by relating his experiences in the military to that of other military and civilian leaders who inspired him. Although Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dorie Miller were included in his speech, Fuller also mentioned military leaders such as Adm. Chester Nimitz, Adm. Gordon Chung-Hoon, Adm. Michelle Howard, and the crew of the USS Mason (DDG 87). He emphasized the diversity of the military and its ethos of acceptance regardless of race.
“All of us want a level playing field,” Fuller said. “We want the chance for our best to show itself. Growing up, I experienced acceptance for my achievements. The Naval Academy was a level playing field. It was level, but it was raised to a higher level.”
Fuller emphasized the importance of “leaving footprints wherever you go.” He reflected on his own efforts to honor the achievements of previous civil rights’ activists.
“We are the defenders of all the hard work that went ahead of us,” Fuller reminded the sailors at ATG MIDPAC.