YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet celebrated National African American History Month, Feb. 23, at the Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Auditorium. The program included performances by the U.S. 7th Fleet Band, multimedia presentations and opportunities to try on and wear traditional African clothing.
Command historian, Chief Cryptologic Technician Kevin Murphy, pointed out that at least one Sailor hailed from 150-year legacy of African Americans serving in times of war.
“Lt. Lee Snaer’s great, great grandfather, Maj. Louis Antoine Snaer, was the only black commissioned officer to lead troops into battle at Fort Blakely during the Civil War,” explained Murphy. Snaer attended the event, which included Civil War-era letters and memos detailing his ancestral heritage, and a book that recounted Maj. Snaer’s military career.
Chief Information Systems Technician Robert Esters, assigned to U.S. Seventh Fleet, gave the keynote address.
“This year’s theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” is meant to honor the contributions that African American military servicemembers have made in all of America’s wars, from the American Revolution to the present day,” said Esters. However, instead of focusing on African American heroes in the past, Esters highlighted some of U.S. 7th Fleet’s current staff members as Sailors who had served in times of war, in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the present Global War on Terrorism.
Speaking to the audience, he pointed out that they too should be commended for their service during times of war. “We’re forward deployed to Japan, serving in the finest fleet in the Navy,” said Esters. “As part of U.S. 7th Fleet, we’re…supporting carriers, cruisers and destroyers deployed in defense of Guam or of our allies, South Korea and Japan; counterterrorism missions in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, and even disaster relief when it’s needed.
“And we’re doing it standing shoulder to shoulder with shipmates of various nationalities, religions, education levels, ideologies and, yes color. But we regard each other as equals, and we are united in our commitment to being ready to fight tonight. So give yourselves a round of applause.”