2020 African American History Month

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Tech. Sgt. DeVan Abram

145th Airlift Wing Recruiting Office, Charlotte, North Carolina

Abram, 37, joined the North Carolina Air National Guard after serving in the Air Force. The highlight of service, she says, is recruiting somebody into the Guard. “African American History month means a time to reflect on how the military once was, how it is now, and how I can contribute to its future.”

Cpt. Shaneka Ashman

1048th Transportation Company

Ashman, 30, is a logistics officer who joined the Connecticut National Guard in 2000. “Ten years later, here I am and I wouldn’t change a thing.” African American History Month is “important to recognize how great of a Guard (and country) we are. This is all because of people. People who are from different backgrounds, culture and history.”

Sgt. Anthony W. Boxley Jr.

Installation Training Command, Cain, Indiana

Boxley, 29, joined in 2009, serves with his cousin in the same unit, and is a gospel singer in his spare time. African American History Month means “I matter,” he said, adding that his success influences others from his community.

Maj. Noyal Brasfield

National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, Arkansas

Brasfield, 43, followed two older brothers into the Guard in 1993. “The Soldiers you serve with tend to be mostly the same Soldiers your started your career with. That bond is an unbreakable bond.” He says this month “provides a spotlight on some of the contributions of African Americans to the military.”

Senior Airman Joie Cook

156th Airlift Squadron, Charlotte, North Carolina

Cook, 40, joined the North Carolina Air National Guard in 2013 “to continue my family military history, leave a legacy for my kids and serve both the community and country.” She says of this month’s observance, “African American history is all year round, so it is great that the military recognizes it as well.”

Senior Master Sgt. Tamika S. Covington

Joint Force Headquarters, Fort Dix, New Jersey

Covington, 44, the daughter of Air Force parents, has served with the New York and New Jersey National Guard since 2000. She is a recruiting and retention superintendent who considers the highlight of her military career “being able to enlist my son, Khalil, in the New Jersey Air National Guard.” African American History Month “means that we recognize some amazing service members that look like me.”

Sgt. 1st Class Anthony E. Darrison

Joint Force Headquarters, Fort Dix, New Jersey

For Darrison, 35, honoring African Americans is “an opportunity to display the greatness that comes from our history.” He enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2003, following his grandfather, a Korean War veteran who “always informed me on how the military would change my life – and it did just that.”

Master Sgt. Jerri Edwards

156th Airlift Squadron, North Carolina

Edwards, 51, a loadmaster who joined in 2002, comes from a family dedicated to service. Being part of a branch with a unique mission within the overall mission of U.S. security and peace is what she likes most about serving. African American History Month “means success is happening.”

Sgt. 1st Class Aaron M. Foy Sr.

437th Military Police Battalion, Columbus, Ohio

Foy, 36, joined in 2000, three days after graduating from high school. He is a military policeman who enjoys mentoring young Soldiers. This month is “a chance not only for those African American Soldiers who came before me to be recognized for their accomplishments, but also a chance for the military to showcase its ability to lead our nation in diversity.”

Sgt. Charles Frier

Headquarters, Headquarters Company 112th Engineer Battalion, Ohio

Serving in the military was a childhood dream for Frier, 32, a combat engineer in the Ohio National Guard. “Since I was a little kid playing with my G.I. Joes’ action figures and watching their cartoon, I wanted to become my own G.I. Joe.” He joined in 2012.

Master Sgt. Karen Fulton

123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky

Fulton joined the military in 1996 and has served in the Air Force, the National Guard and, currently, the Air Guard. “I have strived to create myself in the image of African American females I admired and wish to be a positive influence in our community.”

Sgt. Nicaurys Garcia

1048th Transportation Company, Connecticut

Garcia, 26, is a heavy vehicle driver who joined in 2015 for educational reasons. Annual training is her favorite time of the year. For her, African American History Month “shows how significant it is to be able to serve my country.”

Lt. Col. Angela Gentry

Joint Force Headquarters, Washington

Gentry, 41, calls joining the Washington Army National Guard after active-duty service as a military intelligence officer the best professional decision of her life. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream,” she says. “We are that dream. Therefore, I do not take for granted the ability to live truly free, in this great country.”

1st Sgt. Terrick Grace

Headquarters, 254th Regiment (CA)

Grace, 43, joined the New Jersey National Guard in November 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He loves mentoring the next generation of soldiers. “I can feel proud of the opportunities to take Soldiers, who may not have had the best attitude or best background, and train and mentor them to be leaders in their field.”

Tech. Sgt. Freedom Huggins

156th Airlift Squadron, North Carolina

Huggins, 38, a security forces craftsman, marks his 20th year of service in 2020 and loves traveling and experiencing different cultures. “This observance gives not just the African American community but everyone in the country a chance to reflect on the things that African Americans have contributed throughout the ages here. Sometimes we can take them for granted.”

Brig. Gen. David Jenkins

Joint Force Headquarters, South Carolina

Jenkins, 51, assistant adjutant general, South Carolina National Guard, joined in 1990. He considers developing Soldiers into leaders the highlight of serving in the Guard. This month is “an opportunity to recognize all of the nameless/faceless heroes of color that have paved the way for many of today’s leaders.”

Staff Sgt. April Jones

2-254th Regiment (CA), Sea Girt, New Jersey

Jones, 33, was in search of purpose when she joined in 2008. Now a combat medic, she welcomes African American History month as a chance to showcase the importance of diversity and unity. “Observing and highlighting Soldiers from different backgrounds promotes a cultural sense of pride within the force.”

Sgt. Jomaican R. Kitchens

Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Florida

Kitchens, 33, joined the National Guard in 2005 for the education benefits but extended after seeing how the Guard helped restore order following Hurricane Katrina. “This observance serves as a reminder that the military is made up of various races and ethnicities, who come together in order to serve this country both locally and abroad.”

Sgt. 1st Class Eugeneia L. Lewis

Joint Force Headquarters, Fort Dix, New Jersey

Lewis, 51, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1989 and the Army National Guard in 2006. “My most favorite part of serving is seeing younger soldiers grow in the ranks.” She loves motorcycles and archery.

Staff Sgt. Taja Lewis

National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, Arkansas

Lewis, 30, says African American History Month pays “homage to those who paved the way before me. I am my ancestor’s unimaginable dream.” She calls the Guard “the ultimate test of character and strength. I have had a chance to discover personal courage and selfless service.”

1st Lt. Jade Perry

2-134 th Airborne Infantry, HHC, Nebraska

Perry, 26, a third-generation Soldier who joined in 2011, loves the physical aspects of the military as well as “playing in the dirt and sleeping under the stars.” Honoring African Americans “means that my ancestor’s sacrifices weren’t in vain. I am a black, female, officer in the world’s greatest Army. I am my ancestor’s wildest dreams.”

Spc. Jeremy A. Rawls

E Troop 278th, Smyrna, Tennessee

Rawls, 33, joined in 2013. “African American history is everything to me and is another reason why I serve. Influences like my uncles ... who served, and others in history like Gen. Lorenzo Thomas, who was the commissioner of the colored troops in Tennessee, made it possible for me to be able to serve and lead.”

Sgt. Kierra Reid

Joint Force Headquarters, Fort Dix, New Jersey

Reid, 29, a human resource specialist, joined the Army National Guard in 2008 and loves the “the comradery and learning to be a part of something remarkable.” This month “means a great deal to me because it gives an opportunity to recognize the contributions of African Americans in our organization.”

Staff Sgt. John Siler

Headquarters, Headquarters Company 16th Engineer Brigade, Ohio

Siler, 39, is a Purple Heart recipient who has served since 1999. Teaching younger Soldiers is the highlight of his military career. For Siler, African American History Month brings “change that our country needs. There are a multitude of forgotten stories that come to light in the month of February that we should strive to keep in the light always.”

Cpt. James A. Souder

Company E, 250th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), New Jersey

Souder, 42, enlisted 10 years ago, following his father and brother into military service. African American History Month “reminds me of the potential the military has to drive change. My father spoke of being a Soldier in a largely segregated military. Roughly 70 years later, his son is an officer and leader in that same organization.”

Staff Sgt. Monique Rosa Williams

Kentucky Recruiting and Retention Battalion

Williams wants “to be an example for the next generation of Soldiers and not just for African American women, but for all women to be able to know they too can do it all and choose a career that will set them apart from their peers and instill values in them that they will carry with them in life.”

Staff Sgt. Eric Wilbert

Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Ohio

Wilbert, 28, is the first in his family to enlist in the military and calls it “the single greatest decision of my life.” A heavy equipment operator in the Ohio National Guard, he values the camaraderie, college benefits and opportunities for professional development. This month means a lot to him. “African Americans that have served in the military have done so much for our country both on and off the battlefield.”

Sgt. Calvin Woolard

Military Funeral Honors, North Carolina

Woolard, 31, says he’s grateful to be able to honor the families of fallen veterans in the Guard, where his mother has served for more than 30 years. “As an NCO, it means a lot for me to be able to be a positive role model for young African Americans.”