In the Service

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Erika M. Mason celebrated Black History Month with fellow sailors and marines aboard the amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans during a celebration hosted by the ship's diversity committee.

Mason is the daughter of Catherine Caton of Selma and Frank Young of Central Point. She is a 2005 graduate of Ashland High School and joined the Navy in September 2005.

Today, more than 123,000 active duty, reserve and civilian members of the Navy total force identify themselves as African-American.

In keeping with the nationwide theme of this year's observance, the focus of the celebration was "Black Women in American History and Culture."

The USS New Orleans and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine MEU are deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of responsibility.

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