NAACP to honor Keesler commander at banquet

Maj. Gen. Mark Brown
Maj. Gen. Mark Brown

The Gulfport Branch NAACP will honor Maj. Gen. Mark Brown, who will be presented with the Gulfport Branch NAACP's Col. Lawrence E. Roberts Sr. Award, at its annual Freedom Fund Banquet at Island View Casino Beach Towers' Admiral Ballroom at 6 p.m. June 15. This year's theme is "Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice."

Brown is the commander, Second Air Force, at Keesler Air Force Base. He is responsible for the development, oversight and direction of all operational aspects of Basic Military Training, initial skills training, and advanced technical training for the U.S. Air Force enlisted force and support officers. The command includes training wings at Keesler; Sheppard and Goodfellow Air Force bases, Texas; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; a training group at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and 103 operating locations around the world. Second Air Force also oversees all U.S. Air Force Airmen throughout the Joint Expeditionary Tasking/Individual Augmentee training pipeline at several Army training sites across the country.

Brown was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., and entered active duty in 1986. He has served in comptroller, command and staff positions at all levels of the Department of Defense, including two staff assignments working directly with the legislative branch of government. His global experience includes serving in the Philippines, Spain, England, Turkey and Iraq. He has commanded three times consisting of two squadrons and a mission support group, deployed in support of Operation Provide Comfort, served as the assistant executive officer for the 17th Air Force Chief of Staff and was the financial management and comptroller director for Air Mobility Command. Prior to his current assignment, he was the comptroller for Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command.

The Col. Lawrence E. Roberts Sr. Award is presented to the individual or group who exhibits an unparalleled commitment to excellence, reform and advancement in aviation, military and/or veterans affairs; with a determination to eliminate hurdles and break down barriers.

After entering the United States Army Air Corps at Keesler Air Force Base in 1943, Roberts was assigned to the famed Tuskegee Airmen program the following year, where he learned to fly Piper Cubs, North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, Douglas C-54 Skymaster transports and North American F-86 Sabre and fighter jets. Roberts also served as an instructor in Tuskegee University's Air Force ROTC program from 1958 to 1960. During his 32 years of military service he was an instructor, served in the Vietnam war and received 18 service medals and awards. He was a life member of the NAACP.

For more information about the banquet, contact co-chairs Valarie Hill at 596-1682 or Frank Magee at 547-0737.