We recently celebrated the life and legacy of a great American, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. His contributions and leadership has and will continue to shape our country for years to come regardless of an individual’s gender or ethnic background. He is obviously not alone, as there are many African-Americans who have impacted our society and our world.
There are many individuals and organizations that have and continue to make a difference in our country and our Army, some large and some small. I would like to present one such organization.
For 43 years, The ROCKS Inc. has been working to make a difference in our country and our Army’s Officer Corps, as well as with Army Department civilians, and Army spouses.
In the mid-1960s, a group of African American officers who were attending Command and General Staff College were introduced to then-Col. Roscoe (Rock) Cartwright. Cartwright, a member of the CGSC faculty, hosted a welcome reception for them; his intent was to introduce them to the college and articulate the keys to successfully completing the course and succeed as an Army officer.
This group not only embraced his guidance, they remained connected well after graduating. They called themselves “The Blue Geese,” and a number of them were then assigned to the Washington metropolitan area and remained connected, gathering socially. They soon recognized the need to formalize their organization and centered it around the mentorship of young African-American officers.
Unfortunately, as they were considering what would be the formal name for the organization tragedy struck: Brig. Gen. Cartwright and his wife were killed in a plane crash. It was determined the organization would honor the late officer by carrying his nickname — “Rock.”
Today, the 501(c)3 organization consists of 15 active chapters and six interest groups which are either located on or near major Army installations and a contingency of operations around the globe. Our organization is partnered with other Army-associated organizations such as the Association of the United States Army, Military Officers Association of America and Retired Military Officers Business Association.
The membership originally was limited to African-American field-grade officers. Today, the organization remains focused on the leadership development of all men and women by maximizing their skills as officers. This is to support them so they may lead our Army and its future formations.
Noteworthy members include Gens. Roscoe Robinson Jr., Colin Powell, Johnnie Wilson, Larry Ellis, Lloyd Austin, Dennis Via, Vincent Brooks and William Ward, along with Lt. Gens. Arthur Gregg and Julius Becton. These are but a few of the many senior officers and civilians who have been a part of this historic organization.
We are proud to be in support of the greatest Army in the world. Learn more about our education efforts, events and membership requirements at RocksInc.org.
Retired Brig. Gen. Earl Simms is president of The ROCKS, Inc. He is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and served in uniform for 33 years. He also the vice president for business development and assurance at Armed Forces Services Corporation in Shillington, Virginia.