PO2 Olivia J Hooker

2018-1-27 Hooker

On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation approved the implementation of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve; the program known as SPAR – the acronym derived from the translations of the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus, Always Ready’ – became the foundation for women in the Coast Guard today.

In February 1945, Olivia Hooker became one of the first African-American females admitted into the United States Coast Guard when she joined the service during World War II.

On March 9, 1945, Hooker headed to boot camp. She recalled waking up at 5 a.m. every day and exercising one hour before she ate. After breakfast, she and her shipmates had to polish the floors and accomplish any other chores required of them. The SPARs had to attend class and pass exams. Basic training was held in Manhattan Beach, N.Y., and lasted six weeks.

While Hooker was one of only five African American females to first enlist in the SPAR program, she never felt discouraged in her duties because of her color. Once, an admiral addressed Hooker in person and told her to come to him if she ever had problems. Hooker said that she was very glad to have made that kind of connection in the military.

Upon graduation from basic training, Hooker specialized in the yeoman rate and remained at the training center in Manhattan Beach for nine more weeks. Once she completed yeoman training, Hooker spent her entire service time stationed in Boston. Hooker worked in the separation center, typing discharges and doing paperwork.

In June 1946, the SPAR program was disbanded and Hooker earned the rank of petty officer 2nd class as well as a Good Conduct Award. Hooker said she was one of the last yeomen left in the office and she had to type up her own discharge.

Hooker went on to earn her master’s degree in psychological services from Teachers College at Columbia University, then received her doctorate as a school psychologist from the University of Rochester. Working as a professor in New York, Hooker had a remarkable career, finally retiring when she was 87 years old.

“I would like to see more of us realizing that our country needs us,” said Hooker. “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.”

Hooker’s long and unforgettable life gave her an appreciation for her fellow man and a dedication to her country. The impression she has left on our society and the amazing contributions she has made will never be forgotten.

We honor you, Olivia Hooker.

(#Repost @US Coast Guard)

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