The first African American Supply Corps Admiral was honored at the dedication ceremony for the Rear Adm. William Powell Jr. Library at Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS), held April 18, 2013.
The ceremony featured fellow Naval Academy Preparatory School and U.S. Naval Academy Alumni, Mr. Montel Williams and retired Vice Adm. Frank Donovan, as guest speakers on behalf of Rear Adm. Powell, and his grandson, Cameron Powell, delivering a touching reflection on his grandfather’s accomplishments.
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Capt. Mark Pimpo, Montel Williams, Clint Powell, Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich, Mrs. Loretta Powell, Max Powell, David Powell, and Cameron Powell cut a ceremonial cake during the Rear Adm. William Powell Jr. library dedication ceremony.
(Photo by Lt. Reid Morrow)
Having graduated from USNA in 1959, Rear Adm. Powell was one of the first 15 African Americans to serve as a Supply Corps officer, and the first to achieve flag rank. Beginning his career at NSCS Athens, Ga., he was selected for a distinguished Independent Supply Officer Billet aboard USS Nicholas (DDE 449), which became the first of many difficult assignments he accepted and excelled in.
His tours included serving as Director of Supply Corps Personnel, Washington, D.C.; Commanding Officer, Naval Supply Depot, Subic Bay; Assistant Director of Supply Policy, Aviation Programs Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Washington D.C.; Director of the Planning Department, NSC Oakland, Calif.; Aviation Supply Office, Philadelphia; Supply Officer, USS Intrepid (CV 11); Staff, Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; and Naval Supply Systems Command, Washington, D.C.
Rear Admiral Powell’s pinnacle achievement came in 1985 with selection for Rear Admiral, and duty as Commanding Officer, Naval Supply Center, Norfolk, Va., where he modernized one of the most productive Navy stock points with an automated procurement process and other innovative programs. Rear Adm. Powell retired after 29 years of distinguished service in November 1988.
After thanking the many members of the Powell family, distinguished Supply Corps alumni, and the USNA Class of 1959, Rear Adm. Heinrich spoke of his mentor, Rear Admiral Powell, whom he worked for from 1982 to 1984 at Naval Supply Depot Subic Bay. “He shaped me as a young man, into the Naval Officer that I am today,” he explained. “I owe him so much.”
“Rear Admiral Powell spoke about his strong belief that this country was moving toward a time when men and women would be judged on their character and contribution,” Rear Adm. Heinrich added. “That vision he shared is more of a reality now than it has ever been.”
Thanking Rear Admiral Powell for his “perseverance and loyal service from the rank of Seaman to Rear Admiral,” Montel Williams explained the context and importance of Rear Admiral Powell’s service, concluding, “His monumental contributions opened doors for all of us, I wouldn’t be standing here today if not for the path he laid before me.”
By Lt. Reid Morrow, Navy Supply Corps School Public Affairs