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    Coast Guard Research and Development Center Celebrates Black History Month

    Lt. j.g. Joseph Jenkins Collage

    Photo By Lt. Charles Clark | Collage of photos from the life of Lt. j.g. Joseph Jenkins, the Coast Guard's first...... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Charles Clark 

    U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center

    The Coast Guard Research and Development Center is celebrating Black History month by honoring the service’s first recognized African American officer, Lt. j.g. Joseph Charles Jenkins.

    Artifacts from Jenkins’ time in service will be on display at the center, including his dress coat, the ship’s bell from USS Sea Cloud, on which he served as the ranking African American officer, and a collection of photos.

    The RDC also is holding a presentation and discussion panel about Jenkins’ life and service. Ms. Jennifer Gaudio from the Coast Guard Academy Museum will lead the discussion. She will be joined by Ms. Hertha Woodruff, Jenkins’ daughter, and Ms. Carmen Woodruff, his granddaughter.

    After completing an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, Joseph Jenkins enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1942 at the age of 28. In June 1942 he was a Boatswains Mate First Class; on April 14, 1943, Jenkins received his officer’s commission after completing Reserve Officer Training at the Coast Guard Academy. By August he was one of two African American officers in the Coast Guard. Throughout his career, Jenkins pioneered the way for minorities as the service’s first recognized African American officer, and also as the ranking African American officer onboard the historic USS Sea Cloud, the nation’s first integrated sea service vessel.

    The barque Sea Cloud was converted into a “weather observation station vessel” and commissioned as a cutter at the Coast Guard Yard in 1942. In 1943, the Navy assumed control of her while retaining her Coast Guard crew. In 1944, Lt. Carlton Skinner, her commanding officer, began an experiment in racial integration by encouraging the training of black seamen in ratings other than Steward’s Mate. The Commandant of the Coast Guard approved, and within months there were over 50 African Americans assigned to Sea Cloud, including Jenkins. Skinner asked for no special treatment or publicity; the crew of Sea Cloud simply carried out their duties. Skinner reported no significant problems, and Sea Cloud passed two Atlantic Fleet inspections with no deficiencies.



    Date Taken: 02.07.2017
    Date Posted: 02.16.2017 10:19
    Story ID: 223765
    Location: NEW LONDON, CT, US 

    Web Views: 129
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