Support our mission
Vice Adm. Anthony Winns, naval inspector general, addresses a crowd at the Chapel of Hope on Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, on Wednesday. Winns was the guest speaker for the base's Black History Month celebration.

Vice Adm. Anthony Winns, naval inspector general, addresses a crowd at the Chapel of Hope on Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, on Wednesday. Winns was the guest speaker for the base's Black History Month celebration. (David J. Carter / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Anthony Winns stood out when he arrived at his first duty station following flight school in 1980.

He’s glad that others are unlikely to face what he did — assignment as the only African-American among about 400 officers at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii.

Winns noticed what seemed like little things, like not getting invited to parties for all the other junior officers.

But Winns, now a vice admiral and the nation’s highest-ranking black sailor, had experienced "subtle discrimination" before, he said.

He decided he would take it in stride and let his skill speak for itself.

"In the end, performance is what counts," said Winns, who spoke with Stars and Stripes between a six-speech schedule in Japan this week to support Black History Month. "Even at my first station, I performed particularly well. It made a big difference."

Winns lived with school segregation until the 10th grade in Jacksonville, Fla.

When he went to an integrated school, he was the only black person in the band. After winning the conductor’s job, he was forced to try out every year for the position — while white students earned their places and kept them through graduation.

Later on, as a student at the U.S. Naval Academy, he witnessed the controversy that followed after someone threw a white sheet over a statue of Tecumseh, the American Indian leader.

The seeds of a more diverse officer corps had just been planted when Winns arrived in 1974.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt made recruiting minority officers a priority, Winns said.

As a result, Winns’ 1974 incoming Naval Academy class had the second largest number of blacks in the school’s history. The incoming 1973 had the largest.

Zumwalt’s vision in the 1970s has borne fruit today. Winns’ class includes four sailors at or above the two-star admiral level.

However, it was at then-Naval Air Station Barbers Point when Winns, a P-3 pilot at the time, saw the possibilities in store for him.

His commanding officer came over one day and told him: "You’re going to be in my chair someday."

"It was at that point I realized if I continued to do well in the Navy, that I had a shot at being successful," Winns said.

He was even more encouraged when some of his fellow junior officers pulled him to the side one day and told him that they thought he had what it takes to get to the top — and that it would be a shame if he left the Navy.

Today, Winns said, he believes the Navy is better committed to diversity and tolerance than it was 30 years ago.

"It’s been a gradual change," Winns said. "As late as 1997, ’98, I’ve seen racial graffiti in the onboard stalls on naval ships. But we’re making progress. We are definitely making progress, but we still have some work to do."

Winns also knows that today’s generation has little direct experience with the level of segregation and discrimination he saw growing up.

"They have a sense of it, but they haven’t lived it," he said.

Winns did his best to impart that experience Wednesday.

He spoke to students at Nile C. Kinnick High School early Wednesday and sailors at both the Yokosuka Chapel of Hope and aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

He first agreed to come to Yokosuka at the request of the carrier’s Master Chief Petty Officer Jeffery Clark, whom Winns knew as a third class petty officer at a prior command.

Some of the younger black sailors in the chapel audience talked about both the importance of remembering their heritage and a coinciding idea of race becoming, in a way, less important.

The best example of that for many is President Barack Obama.

"Being black — that was just an added benefit," said Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole Oliver, of Washington D.C., and Naval Criminal Investigative Command Far East. "To me it was: Who’s the best fit? It was because he was qualified."

The example of Winns and the many black officers and master chiefs in the Navy further advances that idea, Oliver said.

"I think we’ve come a long way," she added.

The chapel ceremony also paid tribute to Lt. Col. Charles "A-Train" Dryden — one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen — who spoke at last year’s Yokosuka program.

Dryden, 87, died last year.

Black History Month events on:OkinawaKadena Air Base

Friday, 7 a.m. 5K Run/Walk at Risner Fitness Center. Registration begins at 6 a.m. Free. For more information, contact Tech. Sgt. Calvin Daniels at 630-4259 or Senior Master Sgt. Gary White at 634-3878.Saturday, 2 p.m. Taste of Soul at Ryukyu Middle School. Sample food from local cooks. Cost: $7 for kids age 12 and under, $15 for adults. Awards presented to best cook in various categories. For tickets or to sign up as a cook or vendor, contact Capt. Tina Hall at 630-4281 or Staff Sgt. Kyla Woods at 634-4293.Sunday, 6 p.m. Gospel Fest at Kadena Chapel 3. Singing, praise dance, poetry and an inspirational message. Free. For more information, contact Tech. Sgt. Shannon Fisher at 630-4060 or John Bivins at 630-4060.Feb. 15, 6 p.m. "Showtime at Kadena" at the Banyan Tree Club. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. A night of entertainment. Admission: $3 for kids 12 and under, $5 for adults and children 13 and older. For more information, contact Staff Sgt. Kyla Woods at 634-4293.Torii Station

Feb. 12, 2 p.m. "We are the change that we speak" at the Coral Cove. Light refreshments will be served. Free. For more information, call 644-4331.Marine bases

Events have not been finalized. For more information, contact Marine Corps Community Services.JapanCamp Fuji

No information available.

Misawa Air Base ■ Tuesday is the deadline for entry in the African-American Association/Heritage Committee’s Knowledge Bowl, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Feb. 19. Five-member teams are being put together from each of the wing’s groups. Send team name and list of members to Tech. Sgt. Shawncie Carpenter at Call DSN 226-6700 for more information.■ Feb. 12, 3:30 p.m. Knowledge Bowl at Edgren High School.■ Feb. 14, 8 p.m. to midnight. Poetry/Jazz Night at the Misawa Collocated Club.■ Feb. 15, 5 p.m. Gospel Fest in the Misawa Collocated Club’s ballroom.■ Feb. 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Soul Food Sampler at the Mokuteki Community Center.■ Feb. 23-26, times TBD. African-American Theater at the base theater.■ Feb. 27, 6 p.m. African-American Heritage Month closing banquet at the Misawa Collocated Club.

The contact for Black History Month events at Misawa is Staff Sgt. Teronda Hunter at DSN 226-6166.

Sasebo Naval Base ■ Event dates and details are still being finalized by the Multi-cultural Committee at Sasebo Naval Base. For updated information, call committee vice president Akaiya Miller at 252-3024.

Yokota Air Base ■ Tuesday, 6:30 a.m. The 5K Fun Run will start on the east side at Yokota Field.■ Every Tuesday in February, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A health fair, which includes blood pressure checks, will be held at the Yokota Community Center.■ Feb. 15, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Gospel service and potluck at the chapel on the east side.■ Feb. 25, 11:30 a.m. A luncheon in the Yokota Enlisted Club ballroom. The guest speaker is Col. Marina Ray, the 374th Surgical Operations Squadron commander. Cost is $11.95 for members, $13.95 for nonmembers. RSVP by Feb. 16.

The contact for Black History Month events at Yokota is Senior Master Sgt. Edwin Holland at DSN 225-8066 or

Yokosuka Naval Base

■ Feb. 20, 1 p.m. The Yokosuka Bowling Center will host the 2nd Annual African American History Month Bowling Tournament. Three-person teams will bowl three games and trophies will be awarded for the top three teams. The winning command’s team will also receive a traveling trophy that they will keep until the following year. For information, call 243-5158.

■ Feb. 16, 3 p.m. The Spectrum Center will host a Presidents Day and Black History Month Celebration. There will be a complimentary buffet, a presidential trivia competition, an NBA All-Star game replay and a skills competition.

■ Every Thursday in February the Chief Petty Officer’s Club will offer a selection of soul, southern and Creole food.

Camp Zama

■ Friday, 11 a.m. Luncheon at the Community Club. Tickets will be available at the club cashier’s cage. For more information, call 263-7666.

■ Friday, 3:30 p.m. Black History Month ceremony at the Community Cultural Center, including cake and refreshments.

■ Friday, 3 p.m. Soul food cookout at the Zama Youth Center featuring entertainment including literature and poems written by famous black Americans.

Black History Month events in S. KoreaCamp Carroll ■ Feb. 24, 6 p.m. The 501st Sustainment Brigade will hold a luncheon at the Community Activity Center.

Camp Casey ■ Feb. 20, 11:30 a.m. The 210th Fires Brigade will hold a luncheon at the Thunder Inn Dining Facility.

Camp Humphreys ■ Feb. 12, 11:30 a.m. A luncheon at the 194th Dining Facility.■ Feb. 19, 11:30 a.m. A luncheon at the 602nd Dining Facility.■ Feb. 20, 11:30 a.m. An expo at the USO and Super Gymnasium.■ Feb. 26, 11:30 a.m. A prayer luncheon at the Community Activity Center.■ Feb. 28, 8:30 a.m. A 5K run/walk, which includes a half-mile walk for kids. Starts at the Super Gymnasium.

Camp Red Cloud ■ Feb. 20, 11 a.m. The 2nd Infantry Division will hold a luncheon at the CG’s Mess.

Camp Walker ■ Feb. 20, 11:30 a.m. The 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the 501st Sustainment Brigade will hold a luncheon at the Evergreen Community Club.

Chinhae Naval Base ■ Feb. 20. At the weekly all-hands meeting, a presentation by students from C.T. Joy Elementary School.

Kunsan Air Base ■ Sunday, 3 p.m. “The Great Debaters” and “Miracle at St. Anna” will be screened in a movie marathon at the base theater.■ Feb. 17 is the deadline for submissions to the All Air Force and Army Essay Contest. The topic: “The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas.”■ Feb. 18, 11 a.m. Black History Lunchtime Trivia at the Loring Club.

The contact for Black History Month events at Kunsan is Capt. Alexis Johnson at DSN 782-5113 or

Osan Air Base ■ Friday, 11 a.m. An “African-American Heritage” lunch special will be offered at the Officers Club.■ Other Osan events for Black History Month to be announced. Call DSN 784-4040.

Yongsan Garrison ■ Friday, 11 a.m. Trivia contest at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service store on Main Post, sponsored by the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade.■ Feb. 20, 2:30 p.m. The U.S. Army Special Troops Battalion-Korea will hold a program in the multipurpose training facility on South Post.■ Feb. 21, 3 p.m. The U.S. 8th Army Band will perform at the Yongsan Commissary.■ Feb. 21, 7 p.m. The Black History Month Ball, Dragon Hill Lodge Ballroom. The ball includes a ticket charge, but groups will have displays up at the Dragon Hill during the day with no admission charge.■ Feb 24, 1:30 p.m. The 65th Medical Brigade will host an observance at the garrison theater. Call Sgt. 1st Class Robert Henderson at 737-3110 or 010-5591-0860.■ Feb. 28, 8 a.m. A 5K run/walk starting from Collier Field House.

twitter Email

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up