Coast Guard honors Centenarian, first African American woman to enlist in Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft takes a photo with Dr. Olivia J. Hooker, who had a building dedicated to her at Coast Guard Sector New York in Staten Island, New York, March 12, 2015. Zukunft presided over the ceremony and unveiled a plaque that hangs in the galley in honor of Hooker. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi)

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft with Dr. Olivia J. Hooker, who had a building dedicated to her at Coast Guard Sector New York in Staten Island, New York, March 12, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi)

NEW YORK — A ceremony was held at Coast Guard Sector New York in Staten Island, New York, Thursday, to officially rename the Sector New York Galley in honor of Dr. Olivia Hooker, 100, who holds the distinction of being the first African-American woman admitted into the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft presided over the ceremony and unveiled the plaque that hangs in the galley in honor of Dr. Hooker.

Rear Adm. Linda Fagan, Coast Guard 1st District commander, retired Rear Adm. Stephen Rochon, and Capt. Gordon Loebl, commander, Coast Guard Sector New York, were also members of the official party during the ceremony.

Dr. Hooker earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio State University and taught third grade before enlisting in the service in 1945 as a SPAR (Semper Paratus, Always Ready), the acronym used for Coast Guard female service personnel during World War II. She initially tried to enlist in the Navy as a WAVE, but they would not admit her due to her race. She served dutifully earning numerous awards for her skills while working in the Boston Coast Guard station. In June 1946, the SPAR program disbanded and Dr. Hooker earned the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class.

Following her Coast Guard enlistment, Dr. Hooker went on to earn a Masters Degree in Psychological Services from Teachers College at Columbia University and a Doctoral Degree from the University of Rochester.

The ceremony was standing room only, which highlighted her impact on the Coast Guard, her students, peers, and the African-American community at large.

“I’ve never met anyone like her. She remains open and unafraid of what life will bring. She draws people in with grace and sincerity,” said Rear Adm. Linda Fagan, Commander, First Coast Guard District.

Dr. Hooker continued to work as a professor in New York where she finally retired at the age of 87 years old.

She is currently serving as a volunteer in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 06-08 in Yonkers, N. Y.

To learn more about Dr. Hooker’s distinguished life, please visit: http://ift.tt/1Dcqlk4

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