Diversity in Hohenfels

Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas R. Capel, USAREUR Command Sgt. Maj., discusses the contributions of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the "father" of Black History Month, at a celebration at Hohenfels, Feb. 23.

Hohenfels celebrates diversity at Black History Month

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
February 25, 2011


HOHENFELS, Germany -- Hohenfels celebrated Black History Month with a luncheon featuring African delicacies, art and clothing displays, and a High School art contest at the Community Activities Center, Feb. 23.

Guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas R. Capel, U.S. Army Europe’s Command Sgt. Major, discussed the contributions of African-Americans through the years, drawing a time line from when the first slave ships arrived on the coast of Virginia to when Barack Obama became the first African-American President.

“As I think about the people who made it possible for me to be here today, I reflect back upon a long hard road on which too much blood was shed, too much sweat, and too many tears wasted over the price of freedom,” he said. “As I look around this room today, we all sit together, eat together, fight together, bleed together on the same battlefields. But we have a lot of people to thank for that.”

“In 1977, I joined an organization that didn’t care about the color of my skin, an organization that didn’t care about where I was born or how I was raised,” Capel said. “I joined the United States Army where you’re rewarded on your performance regardless of your color, sex, or religion.”

Many people believe that it is this very diversity which gives the Army its strength.

“To me, diversity is very important and diversity in the army is essential to our success. So having months that commemorate our brethren of different races is important to our culture and it’s important to how we’re successful in what we do every day,” said Lt. Col. Gordon D. Mayes, Hohenfels Health Clinic commander.

“I think diversity is one of the greatest things we can have, not just in the military but in the United States as a whole,” added Sgt. 1st Class Beverlee D. Burton, Brigade Unit Ministry Team Observer Controller/Trainer, Joint Multinational Readiness Center. “The more we can begin to understand other people, other cultures, other ethnicities, the better it makes us as a person.”

Though it wasn’t on the program, Capel also congratulated the USAREUR 2010 Equal Opportunity Advisor of the Year, Hohenfels’ own Master Sgt. Christopher T. Mulvihill, JMRC EOA. Capel presented Mulvihill an engraved plaque in recognition of his achievement.

“This group we see gathered here today, he brought together,” Capel said, “Master Sgt. Mulvihill has dedicated his entire life to doing what’s right for the U.S. Army.”

“He’s the best EOA I’ve seen in the army,” said 1st Sgt. Douglas M. Flach, Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, JMRC. “He handles everything he does very well and treats all the people and all the different situations that come his way with dignity and respect.”

Clothed in the traditional costume of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, Mulvihill said he was honored by the recognition, but quickly credited the Hohenfels community for much of his success. “I’m sure that my experience was much simpler that a lot of other EOAs out there because of the community,” Mulvihill said. “The support I had, the amount of participation… It goes across the community, and it doesn’t matter what ethnic background you are, everybody pitches in equally for all these events, and that’s a beautiful thing to see.”
Col. John M. Spiszer, JMRC commander, also used the opportunity to present the Army Achievement Medal to Mulvihill in recognition of his achievement.

“The thing about the Hohenfels military community, we don’t just ignore race, creed, religion, we embrace it,” Spiszer said. “We as an organization have gone beyond giving equal opportunity to embracing diversity and all the strengths and wonderful things about it.”