A North Carolina man was promoted Tuesday to honorary Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer during a ceremony 34 years following his retirement from the service.
Clemon H. Terrell enlisted in 1950 as a steward, the only job available to African-Americans at the time in the Coast Guard, which provided limited promotion opportunities.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell read Terrell’s certificate of appointment, calling the promotion ceremony a righteous event.
“The job that Chief Terrell performed did not offer a lot of opportunities for advancement because we weren’t inclusive as a service or as a nation as we should have been,” said Cantrell, who is the Coast Guard’s senior most enlisted person. “We have the ability now to make honorary chiefs of people who have the qualities of a Chief; who demonstrated his love of country and service, and a commitment to our core values, in spite of difficult social issues at the time.”