Mr. Raymond Applewhite was born in poverty in Norfolk, Virginia. At age 5, his Aunt, Mrs. Lossie Reid, rescued him and his now deceased sister Pat and took them to Wilson, NC to live with her where she raised them as her own children. His job history started at age 10 when he worked in the cotton and tobacco fields of Wilson County. He graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in 1969 and from Wilson Technical Institute in 1970. He enlisted in the United States Navy in December 1971 and after 22 years of sustained superior performance, he retired as a Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman in 1993.
In 1984, while stationed at Headquarters Battalion, 2d Marine Division, he was credited with the initial recommendation and planning, which led to the historic assignment of female Hospital Corpsmen to Fleet Marine Force Units at Camp Lejeune. After thorough research, the Historian’s office of Bureau of Medicine and Surgery recently placed his name on file as potentially being the first African American Navy Instructor at Field Medical Service School at Camp Johnson during his assignment there from 1974-1977.
In January 1994, he started his journey as a civil service employee and was assigned as the Supervisor, Eastern Carolina Coordinated Care (EC3), a medical call center at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. As Chairman of the Onslow County Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society, from 1994-2001, he helped Onslow County raise three-quarters of a million dollars for the Cancer research. For several years he helped raise funds for the Miracle Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center. From 1998-1999, he was a Mentor for the Governor’s One-On-One Program and was a beacon of hope for Kids-At-Risk. He is a former member of Onslow County’s Community Health Improvement Process (CHIP).
In 1998, he was appointed as Naval Hospital’s Assistant Community Relations Director and was tasked by the hospital Commanding Officer to visit providers in the community to address their concerns. He was later appointed Director when the Navy Captain in that position retired. This historic effort included social gatherings between Naval Hospital and the civilian providers which led to the historic building of strong partnerships with Onslow Memorial Hospital, Vidant and New Hanover Regional Medical Centers, Womack Army Hospital and Fayetteville VA Medical Center.
In 2001 he was appointed as Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune’s Public Affairs Officer and served as a Special Assistant to 10 different hospital Commanding Officers. The former Medical Officer of the Marine Corps described him as a “Great American”, an outstanding ambassador for Navy Medicine and stalwart in the community. For a number of years, he was single-handedly responsible for establishing internal and external communications and messaging for the hospital. He assisted with the overall planning and coordination for VIPs and distinguished guests, organized and led numerous hospital tours ranging from elementary students to Congressmen and Senators. As Public Affairs Officer, he facilitated all media requests and developed partnerships with Marine Corps Base Public Affairs office, local and national news agencies to include TV, radio, newsprint, Navy Medicine East, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and Chief Information Officer for the Navy.
In 2015, after proposing that members of the Masonic Order, regardless of the color of their skin, jointly participate in the Veterans Day parade in Jacksonville, NC. He led the formation of Masons down the parade route. This historic event was the first time an event of this magnitude occurred in the local community.
Mr. Applewhite’s combined 22 years of service in the Navy combined with an additional 22 years as a civil servant means that he has admirably served as a public servant for more than four decades and has been a mentor to hundreds of military and civilian personnel. His community involvement is extensive and he has received numerous accolades and recognition. He is a member of Omega Lodge No. 292. He is a former Veteran of the Year and was recently honored by the staff and students at Field Medical Training Battalion-East. After nearly four and a half decades of public service, he officially retired from Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune in December 2015.
In retirement, he continues to volunteer his service. He is the first Navy African American from Onslow County to be appointed to the Secretary of the Navy Retiree Council and is currently serving in that prestigious position. He is a current member of the Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, Camp Lejeune Military Retiree Council, and President of the Camp Lejeune Fleet Reserve Association, Branch 208, and Board of Directors member at Wells Fargo Bank. He recently joined the Corpsmen Memorial Foundation and spearheaded discussions with city and county officials, which had a significant impact on helping the foundation achieve their fund-raising goal. In 2016, he and his wife established a Scholarship program at Coastal Carolina Community College, designed to help students in the Dental Hygiene Program requiring financial assistance.
Mr. Applewhite was recognized as a Legend of Onslow County in October 2017 by the Jacksonville/Onslow Chamber of Commerce for his often times quiet cumulative years of mentorship and vast array of contributions to the military and community.
Mr. Applewhite and his wife, Georgia, of 42 years have two daughters, Mrs. Rosalind Douglas (William), and Ms. Denise Applewhite.