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CLASS NOTES

CLASS NOTES

PROFILE IN LEADERSHIP

By CHANDRA THOMAS WHITFIELD

Alvin Holsey ’88 Soars in the U.S. Navy

FLYING HIGH ALVIN HOLSEY ’88 has experienced lots of professional highs: there was graduating from Morehouse with a degree in computer science and receiving his military commission through the campus NROTC program. He finished flight school with the United States Navy at the age of 24 with, well, flying colors. And, he commanded the U.S.S. Makin Island, a Navy warship the size of nearly three football fields. Oh, and that time he arrived for a Navy recruitment presentation at his high school alma mater, Peach County High, via an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter (he landed it on the 50-yard line of the football field promptly at 9 a.m.). All of those are hard to top, but his latest accolade just might do it. The Fort Valley, Ga. native, 51, has been promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral. “I was blessed to have my mother present for this honor; my wife pinned me,” said Holsey, of the Pentagon ceremony presided over by Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations. “I’m only the 10th black aviator to become a flag officer. I’m only the second military general or flag officer ever produced by Morehouse College. The first was U.S. Army Lieutenant General James R. Hall,

(class of ’57) over three decades ago.” Holsey, who now serves as deputy director for operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, says he owes so much of the success of his decorated 28-year (and counting) career to his family, especially his parents, Rosa and the late Charles Holsey Sr., and his time at dear old Morehouse. In fact, he admits to beaming with pride every time he studies a beloved photo of himself posing aboard the Makin, a Morehouse patch prominently displayed on the shoulder of his flight suit. “My parents told me I could be somebody, Morehouse told me that I was somebody – a Morehouse man,” he says. Even with that, self-doubt crept in when he arrived in Pensacola, Florida for flight training. “As a young black male coming from a small college, initially, I felt all the bad ‘I’s’ - inferior, inadequate, insignificant. Then, I realized I had something the other students could never have: I had Sale Hall in the summer of 1983; I had the long registration lines; I had Dr. Cason Hill for English Composition; I had walked the same steps as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; I had matriculated through the campus that Dr. Mays built; I had shouted, ‘Hugh, Hugh, Hugh’ when President Gloster addressed the student body. I don’t feel

those ‘I’s’ anymore.” Holsey, who’d dreamed of becoming a pilot while a teenager bagging groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly store, ultimately earned a Master of Science degree in Management from Troy State University in 1995 and attended the Joint Forces Staff College in 2010. He’s also held a diverse mix of positions with the Navy, including executive assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations. “He’s the highest ranking guy in the Navy,” explained Holsey. Though he has no plans of slowing down any time soon, Holsey says he is looking forward to passing the torch to his two sons, Joshua, 23, and Jordan, 17, whom he shares with his wife and Spelman sweetheart, the former Stephanie Noble, a dentist. Joshua has wasted no time following in his dad’s footsteps; he graduated Morehouse in 2015 with a computer science degree and is currently matriculating through Navy flight school. Holsey couldn’t be any prouder. “My parents taught me that I could do anything and Morehouse just brought it full circle for me,” he said. “People always tell you what you can’t do, but you push through and show them otherwise.” n WINTER 2017

47 MOREHOUSE MAGAZINE


Morehouse Magazine Winter 2017