NEWPORT, R.I. — Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Enoch Woodhouse II, a Tuskegee airman, visited the Naval Justice School (NJS), Oct. 21, and spoke about his personal experiences of segregation during World War II.
Woodhouse spoke to 200 enlisted and officer students and faculty. In attendance were Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III, the 43rd Judge Advocate General of the Navy; and Capt. Shannon Kopplin, commanding officer of Naval Justice School.
Woodhouse spoke about tolerance and the ability to understand limits.
Woodhouse, who has practiced law for 40 years, has served with the State Department and with the City of Boston.
"I'm talking with you about my experience — which is not the experience of someone with color — this is our history, our history as Americans," Woodhouse said.
He said religion taught him how to cope with those who overstepped their bounds.
"I come from three generations of Methodist ministers — so basically, we're religion people. In other words, we try to live by the Golden Rule, and that is you turn the other cheek...now the corollary of that is that unfortunately all of us only have two cheeks. So you can only get slapped twice, and remain the same. So what do you do? You press on," Woodhouse said.
For someone who did not come from an affluent background, Woodhouse said his community stepped in when he initially enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. Woodhouse spoke with gratitude and fondness for those back home.
"When you were going into the service, your neighbors would take up a collection for you-this is the way the black community sent their kids off to defend their country," Woodhouse said.
Woodhouse led a Q & A session and discussed how America's diversity was its greatest asset.
"In our diversity there is strength - the strongest metals, titanium, molybdenum, they are an amalgamation - that's what America's about," he said.
For a future-oriented strategy, Woodhouse said that military leaders need to focus on the big issues regarding national security instead of getting behind by tackling internal issues stemming from entitlement.
"Some of us have privileges and we like to keep privileges. Meanwhile, back in New Delhi, India; and Tokyo, Japan, plans were being made to upset our balance of power."
Crawford is the principal military legal counsel to the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations, and serves as the Department of Defense representative for Ocean Policy Affairs (REPOPA). He also leads the 2,300 attorneys, enlisted Legalmen and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community.
Naval Justice School instructs judge advocates and enlisted Legalmen at commands worldwide, providing prosecution and defense services, legal assistance services to individuals, and legal support to shore and afloat commands.