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February 2, 2018

APL Black History Month Kickoff Features Tribute to African American Veterans

Eleven African American veterans working at APL

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Maryland, kiked off its Black History Month celebration Feb. 1 in the Kossiakoff Conference and Education Center. The Color Guard from the Bear Battalion at Morgan State University opened the event, followed by an a cappella rendition of the national anthem in honor of this year’s theme, “African Americans in Times of War.”

In his welcoming remarks, APL Chief of Staff Ron Luman elaborated on the month’s theme. “Throughout the nation’s history, African American soldiers, sailors and Marines have contributed conspicuously to America’s military efforts, performing in leadership, combat and support capacities,” Luman said. “It should come as no surprise — given our decades of critical contributions to the nation’s defense — that APL is fortunate to have scores of veterans among its staff members.”

Several of those veterans shared their stories of serving in the military. Their experiences range from brief tours to earn money for college to decades of service. Many of them risked their lives in conflicts such as the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and subsequent operations in the Middle East, and even in Coast Guard rescues. View a highlight reel of their interviews. Featured, in order of appearance, are:

  • Bobbie Avon, Business and Communication Services Department (BCSD)
  • Andre Douglas, Force Projection Sector (FPS)
  • Daniel Murray, BCSD
  • Fred Drummond, Security Services Department (SECD)
  • Dennis Woodfork, Space Exploration Sector (SES)
  • Brandon Ross, SECD
  • Kevin Shand, FPS
  • Jason ‘JR’ Presmy, Information Technology Services Department (ITSD)
  • Sherry Freeman, Asymmetric Operations Sector (AOS)
  • Marcus Carter, SECD
  • Brandi Nation, SECD

Other upcoming Black History Month events at APL, free and open to the public, include:

Feb. 15: Cookies and Cocoa Social, 4–6 p.m., Café 1.

Feb. 16: Black History Month Colloquium, 2–3 p.m., Parsons Auditorium. Featuring Daniel Haulman, Air Force historian, writer and teacher, chief of the Organizational History Division at the Air Force Historical Research Agency. Following the colloquium, refreshments will be available outside the auditorium.

Feb. 18: 29th Annual Peabody Concert, 3 p.m., Kossiakoff Center. Featuring students of African descent from the Peabody Conservatory, co-sponsored by the Columbia Maryland Chapter of The Links, Inc. This event is free and open to the public.

Feb. 25: Jazz Brunch, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, 10207 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, Maryland 21044. Featuring the band, “With Love,” and honoring Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a Washington-based consulting firm she founded in 2005. Tickets are $70 and can be purchased online at

Media contact: Paulette Campbell, 240-228-6792,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit