Ponds selected grand marshal for Martin Luther King Jr. Parade

011113_1Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

Rear Adm. Frank L. Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, has been selected to be the grand marshal for the 25th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade Jan. 21.

The parade will begin at 9 a.m. from Ala Moana Park’s Magic Island and end at Kapiolani Park, where the Unity Rally featuring entertainment and food will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

January 21, 2013 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday in Hawaii. Gov. John Waihee proclaimed the first Hawaii Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 16, 1989. President Ronald Reagan signed the law proclaiming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a federal holiday on Nov. 2, 1983.

Like the late King, Ponds hails from the South.

“I grew up in the rural Alabama tri city area of Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham in the 1960s,” he said. “I saw the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement first hand. Dr. King’s legacy of equality, unity and justice for all is an inspiration to everyone in the world – no matter what creed, color or nationality.”

Ponds earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama in 1982. He received his commission from Officer Candidate School in June 1983. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (fifth award), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (third award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various service and campaign awards.

Ponds holds a Master of Science Degree in information systems technology from George Washington University, a Master of Science Degree in military studies from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a Master of Science Degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College, National Defense University. Ponds reported as commander for Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific in November 2011.

Pond’s accomplishments and position at Pearl Harbor serve as examples of how far African Americans have come in the U.S. Navy.

During World War II non-white Sailors were expected to be messmen, stewards or “cabin boys,” regardless of their education or skill levels. They were not trained for combat, nor did they wear the traditional anchor on their uniforms. Frank Knox, who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1940-44, wrote “the policy of not enlisting men of the colored races for any branch of the naval service but the messmen branch was adopted to meet the best interests of general ship efficiency.”

Things began to slowly change after the end of the war and the start of the civil rights movement. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were commanding Naval ships, submarines, and shore installations. In 1974, the U.S. Navy issued its first Naval Equal Opportunity Manual. Two years later it issued the first Navy Affirmative Action Plan.

Today, there are 78,000 enlisted African American men and women and an additional 3,000 African American officers serving in the Navy, including 17 active duty admirals. Eleven Navy ships have been named in honor of African Americans.

“Today, the United States Navy exemplifies that legacy of equality, unity and justice for all,” said Rear Adm. Ponds. “Our military and civilian workforce and supportive family members at Region Hawaii and MIDPAC are a strong, unified and capable team. We are committed to building partnerships, promoting cooperation and protecting the ideals and freedoms for which Dr. King fought and died. Therefore, I am especially proud to serve as Grand Marshal of Hawaii’s 25th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Parade.”

Navy Region Hawaii to hold Martin Luther King Jr. observance

The 2013 Navy Region Hawaii Martin Luther King Day observance is scheduled for 10 a.m., Jan. 17 at Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel. This one-hour event seeks to promote awareness of the impact Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had on the civil rights movement in the United States.

Martin Luther King Day celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is best known for his campaign to end racial segregation and promote equality in the United States.

The official party at the event includes Rear Adm. Frank L. Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, Capt. Mark S. Manfredi, chief of staff of Navy Region Hawaii, Capt. Brent E. Smith, chief of staff of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, and Captain Sal Aguilera, Navy Region Hawaii command chaplain. Ponds will also serve as guest speaker, and Aguilera will perform the benediction.

A reception will be held immediately following the ceremony.

QM2 Megan Steffy is the coordinating officer for this event. She can be reached at 474-6549.

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