Story of Vessel CV-63

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“There is no black Navy, there is no white Navy – just one Navy – the United States Navy” – Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt

In October 1972, the crew aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) were fighting a war on two fronts.  

On one hand, there was the Vietnam War. On the other hand, there was racial prejudice.

The US Navy had been an exclusively white domain, but recruitment had fallen drastically throughout the 1970s. The Navy encouraged black men to enlist and their arrival onboard the Kitty Hawk was not met with enthusiasm.

Racial segregation became the norm. The most respected tasks were given to white marines while the least dignified tasks like cleaning toilets and kitchen duty were assigned to black marines. Certain rules, like no walking on deck in groups of more than two, applied to black men but not to white men.

This prejudice frustrated the black marines and they began to protest. Riots broke out between groups of black and white men. These riots only lasted 24 hours and this was largely due to leadership skills of Lt. Commander Ben Cloud, an adept negotiator who was of African American and Native American descent.

This incident brought about long-term positive changes. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, was already aware of “significant discrimination in the Navy” and these riots made him determined to find a solution.  His subsequent reforms led to better treatment for marines in minority groups and the full integration of women into the US Navy.

Our bag is named in recognition of the USS Kitty Hawk and its contribution to both racial and gender equality within the armed forces.

This is Vessel CV-63

Gold Oliverio