CRESTVIEW Today's black youths have preceding generations to thank for their opportunities to be successful, Col. Arvesta Roberson says.


Editor's Note: We hope you enjoy this Black History Month feature, one of a series on successful influential residents in our community.



CRESTVIEW Today's black youths have preceding generations to thank for their opportunities to be successful, Col. Arvesta Roberson says.



The 1985 Crestview High School alumnus particularly credits two men who inspired his goals, which led to a distinguished Army career. Among them are Sgt. George Stakely (Ret.), CHS's former ROTC battalion leader, and a former U.S. secretary of state.



"He always said Colin Powell was his mentor," Carver-Hill Museum curator Rae Roberson said of her son, who is stationed at the Pentagon.



Reading Powell's book, "My American Journey,"  inspired her son to join the Army, she said. Stakely, now retired, remains active in Crestview's Carver-Hill Memorial and Historic Association.



Now, Col. Roberson is taking Stakely's and Powell's inspiration and paying it forward.



"He (encourages) the young people to strive for their goals," his mother said. His most recent effort was during a Feb. 8 Black History Month presentation. "Coming back down to show the young kids how he started and where he is that was his main goal," Rae said.



Col. Roberson's military career spans service in and travel to 35 countries. Among his decorations and awards are the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the National Defense Service Medal with bronze star.



Rae said his list of awards and decorations leaves her "shocked" when she realizes the heroism he displayed to receive some of them.



"I got to reading about those medals and I just got sick" upon learning about the war hazards he faced, she said. "To think my child had been through all of this stuff."



Col. Roberson, the Army's current Integration Branch chief of the Requirements Division, will command the 1st Signal Brigade in Yongsan, Korea, beginning in July.



"Oh, definitely I'm proud!" Rae said.



Email News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes, follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.