USS Kearsarge Hosts National Women’s History Month Observance


The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) hosted a National Women’s History Month observance aboard the ship, March 29.

Cmdr. Monika W. Stoker, the first African-American female commander of a U.S. Navy destroyer, was the guest speaker.

Stoker, commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and former Kearsarge crew member, was invited to speak by Kearsarge Commanding Officer, Capt. Dorian F. Jones.

Stoker acknowledged the historical contributions women have made since the birth of the United States, but urged today’s women in uniform to focus on this year’s theme: Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.

“Education is not just what you learn in books,” she said. “It’s not your master’s (degree) or Ph.D. Education comes in all formats. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes as the people who have gone before us.”

Stoker also spoke of empowerment and of how women should look to empower themselves, and not seek it from others.

“A lot of people think you need other people to empower you,” Stoker said. “But that’s not the case. Empowerment comes from within. Only you can empower yourself. Everyone else can uplift you. They will either uplift you or they will pull you down.

Stoker cited her parents for teaching her the importance of self-empowerment by sharing a valuable lesson from her father.

“Before I was 16 years old, I had to be able to change a tire, and I had to be able to change the oil,” she said. “And I had to be able to drive a manual transmission. That’s a part of empowering ourselves. My dad said that no matter what, I could go somewhere and always come home.”

Jones concluded the observance by emphasizing the importance of women in the military ranks.

“Every day our nation and military are changing to better take on the challenges of the future,” said Jones. “In order for us to continue to overcome what lays ahead, we have to continue to embrace the diverse thoughts, ideas and competencies that keep us strong. As proven throughout the years, we unequivocally could not be successful without women coming to lead the way.”

In 1978, Sonoma County, Calif., began Women’s History Week, and four years later it became a national observance taking place in March. Three years later, U.S. congressional measures lengthened the observance to a full month.

Naval Today Staff , April 03, 2012;