U.S. Army honors Savannah-area soldiers for Black History Month

Meet some of the African-American soldiers of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield

click to enlarge Pfc. Precious Harris, a fire control specialist with the fire control element of 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, on Fort Stewart. - PFC. SUMMERMADELEINE KEISER
Pfc. Summermadeleine Keiser
Pfc. Precious Harris, a fire control specialist with the fire control element of 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, on Fort Stewart.
Black History Month presents an opportunity to honor African Americans who have distinguished themselves by serving their community, and in Savannah, that community includes the soldiers of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.

Today, African Americans make up about 19% of the total Army, and serve at every level of military leadership. Many of them come from a long legacy of Army service.

The strength of the Army’s formations is built not only on being the world’s most lethal force, but on their diversity of talent – knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences – drawn from all corners of our country and its vibrant multicultural population.

As the Army continues to review and reaffirm its commitment to “People First” by being a more inclusive and representative American institution, it demonstrates this through policy changes. Signs of change are visible at the highest levels, as the Department of Defense appointed its first African-American secretary of defense since the position’s inception in 1947: retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin.

The United States could not set out to fight and win our nation’s wars without each and every soldier willing to adorn the uniform and serve in various positions every day. Among the Army’s African-American troops are soldiers serving in varied military occupations, from helicopter mechanic to garrison commanders, and ranks ranging from lower enlisted to top ranking officers.

Here at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, the following soldiers are furthering their careers and contributing to their community through their military service and dedication to what they believe.

Capt. Nicole Nelms is a brigade medical supply officer in the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team on Fort Stewart. She was commissioned into the Army in May of 2016 as a Medical Service Corps second lieutenant after graduating from South Carolina State as a distinguished military graduate.

“Serving in the military as an African-American female allows me to honor and continue the legacy of the strong, determined women from my family,” Nelms said. “In the Army, I am able to interact with people from all over the world and learn new skills that I do not think I would have discovered working a normal job.”

click to enlarge Spc. Orfeo R. Joseph is a chemical biological radiological, nuclear specialist assigned to 92nd Chemical Company, 83rd CBRN Battalion, on Fort Stewart. - SPC. DANIEL THOMPSON
Spc. Daniel Thompson
Spc. Orfeo R. Joseph is a chemical biological radiological, nuclear specialist assigned to 92nd Chemical Company, 83rd CBRN Battalion, on Fort Stewart.
Spc. Orfeo Joseph, a chemical biological radiological nuclear specialist assigned to 92nd Chemical Company, 83rd CBRN Battalion, on Fort Stewart, is from Paramaribo, Suriname. He earned his American citizenship on Feb. 2. Joseph holds a Master of Business Administration degree in entrepreneurship from the FHR Institute for Social Studies.

“Your quality is your quality… just try to focus on being the best you are regardless the color of your skin,” Joseph said.

Sgt. Sean Larson, a UH-60 helicopter repairer with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, on Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, was fascinated with helicopters as a child, which ultimately led him to join the Army.

Spc. Devron Bost, assigned to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, on Fort Stewart, was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and joined the military as a quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer.

Bost was recognized for his photography skills while serving in his additional duty as a unit public affairs representative. He received honorable mention in the Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Communications Competition at the U.S. Forces Command level.

“As I look back to where I came from, I hope to inspire the younger generation to take what life has given them, and make it the best that it can be,” Bost said.

Pfc. Precious Harris, a fire control specialist with the fire control element of 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, on Fort Stewart, joined the Army after completing bachelor’s degrees in both criminal justice and sociology from The College at Brockport, State University of New York.

“Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to take opportunities — you just have to push through,” Harris said. “If you’re given an opportunity, take it and run.”

click to enlarge U.S. Army Capt. Peter Nwokoye, a chaplain with the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, on Fort Stewart. - PFC. SUMMERMADELEINE KEISER
Pfc. Summermadeleine Keiser
U.S. Army Capt. Peter Nwokoye, a chaplain with the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, on Fort Stewart.
Capt. Peter Nwokoye, a chaplain with the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team on Fort Stewart holds religious services for soldiers conducting training missions.

A priest of 21 years, Nwokoye recalls seeing a viral social-media video of soldiers with weapons knelt in prayer, and said he was inspired to join the service.

“I could see the faith, and I could see as well that they did not believe that their weapon is where their power lies,” Nwokoye said. “Providing religious support to the Army − I see this as a ministry, as a vocation, as a calling.”

Staff Sgt. Kiyomi Thursby, a chemical biological radiological nuclear specialist assigned to 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, on Hunter Army Airfield, joined the Army to travel the world, protect and defend her country, and further her education.

Thursby has earned two college degrees: a bachelor’s degree in business management from Colorado Tech University and an associate’s degree in business administration from Central Texas College. She also has obtained three national medical certifications.

“I wanted to honor and show pride to my family members who had served before me and who are still serving,” Thursby said. “I also wanted to show them that they are appreciated and valued for leading the way for our family and for setting the example of great leadership, and the unselfish act of protecting and serving from the frontlines.”

Spc. Jaquavious Williams, a culinary specialist assigned to the 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division on Fort Stewart, is from Atlanta, where he graduated from Daniel McLaughlin Therrell High School in 2017.

Williams has been interested in art since he was 10-years old. His recent artwork − honoring Prisoner of War, Missing in Action soldiers and families − was a popular centerpiece at a 3rd ID Thanksgiving meal.

Williams said he joined the Army because he wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself.

Pfc. Wood-Terry Zomme, a human resource specialist assigned to 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, on Hunter Army Airfield, was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he graduated from Upper Darby High School in 2018.

click to enlarge Staff Sgt. Nicole Allen is an information technology specialist assigned to the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion at Fort Stewart. - SPC. DANIEL THOMPSON
Spc. Daniel Thompson
Staff Sgt. Nicole Allen is an information technology specialist assigned to the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion at Fort Stewart.
Staff Sgt. Nicole Allen, an information technology specialist assigned to the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion at Fort Stewart, is from Miami, Florida, where she graduated from Miami Jackson Senior High School. She is a student at Fayetteville Technical Community College pursuing an associate’s degree in information technology.

“Serving in the military as an African American means we have succeeded through all adversities,” Allen said. “We highlight the sacrifices made and suffering endured for the sake of racial equality.”

This article was compiled with information provided by the 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs.

About The Author

Noelle Wiehe

Noelle Wiehe is a dream-chasing journalist from Ohio. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in journalism from the University of Cincinnati and attended the United States Army's Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Maryland. A U.S. Army veteran, Wiehe has a passion for sharing stories of local heroes,...
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