During Black History Month in February, employee representatives from Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles refinery wrapped up their celebrations and activities onboard the Battleship USS IOWA Museum, operated by Pacific Battleship Center, a nonprofit organization. Marathon Petroleum sponsored the center’s annual program, the Gravely Experience, that kicked off with a luncheon for area high school students.
The Gravely Experience honors Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., the U.S. Navy’s first African-American commander, captain, rear admiral and vice admiral. The program was inspired by the late admiral’s motto: Education, Motivation and Perseverance. Local students step onboard the famous battleship to learn about Gravely and his many achievements, as well as the barriers he broke to cement his place in history.
“The Gravely Experience here on the USS Iowa exemplifies his vision, and at Marathon Petroleum, we are proud to play a small part in honoring the vice admiral’s historic life and career,” said Robert Prieto, a 23-year employee of Marathon’s Los Angeles refinery and Army veteran, who served as the event’s keynote speaker. “The Army taught me to persevere, to push through the tough times, and to not let anyone stop me from pursuing my goals—that's exactly how Gravely lived his life, and he did it against all odds. That’s why it is an absolute honor to take part in this year’s celebration and to ensure, together, we continue to tell his story.”
“The Gravely Experience here on the USS Iowa exemplifies his vision, and at Marathon Petroleum, we are proud to play a small part in honoring the vice admiral’s historic life and career.”
More than 120 11th grade students attended the event, which included a scholarship essay contest, a signature part of the museum’s celebration of the late admiral.
The Los Angeles refinery has partnered with the museum for several years, supporting its many educational programs, including the Gravely Experience.
Gravely, who died in 2004, served on the USS Iowa during the Korean War. He also served in WWII and was the recipient of many high-level awards including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal.