African-American History Month: SPAR
Posted by PA3 Lauren Steenson, Friday, February 12, 2016
Coast Guard Cutter SPAR is a sea-going buoy tender homeported in Kodiak, Alaska. Its name is in honor of the first women to join the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve created November 23, 1942, also known as the SPARs. It wasn’t until February of 1945 when African-American women were admitted into the Coast Guard and able to serve as SPARs.
The first African-American SPARs were Olivia Hooker, Dorothy Winifred Byrd, Julia Mosley, Yvonne Cumberbatch and Aileen Cooke.
Olivia Hooker was the first of the group to be sworn in. She originally applied to the Navy’s WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, multiple times but was eventually accepted into the Coast Guard in February 1945.
Hooker served as a yeoman stationed in Boston until the wartime SPARs were disbanded in mid-1946. She went on to complete her doctorate degree in psychology and retired in New York at 87 years old.
“I would like to see more of us realizing that our country needs us,” said Hooker in a 2013 interview with Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi. “I’d like to see more girls consider spending some time in the military. It’s a good idea to have people from different kinds of orientations and experiences because it’s amazing what you can do with a different point of view. The world would really prosper from more of that.”
Coast Guard Cutter SPAR honors the legacy of the women who stepped up during America’s time of need for support on U.S. shores which allowed more men to be sent overseas during World War II. Its namesake carries on the everlasting tradition of progress that enabled the first women, followed by the first African-American women, to serve their country.
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