Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Day Spotlight on UNCG Alumna and Women's Army Corps Brigadier General Mildred Inez Caroon Bailey

Mildred Inez Caroon Bailey was born in 1919 in Fort Barnwell, North Carolina, and raised in nearby Kinston. After graduating from high school, she enrolled in Flora McDonald College in Red Springs, North Carolina. She transferred to the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) in her sophomore year and graduated in 1940.

From Bailey's 1999 Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project Oral History:
At that time, transferring to Greensboro, that was a big step to the university level, and it was very impersonal and much larger. I was trying to work six hours a day to help pay my tuition and working very hard to keep my grades up, so I was extremely homesick when I first transferred there.
Woman's College Yearbook, Pine Needles 1940

From Bailey's 1999 Oral History, on working with the Dining Services through college:
One thing that I remember so much about that was the dietitian.... One of her jobs was not only the menus and the serving and the cooking, but to monitor the students who were working there. She felt that those of us who were working to get through school deserved the opportunity to not have to eat all of our meals as cafeteria meals and on the run, and so... we had to report an hour and a half before we were scheduled to start serving. We had a dining room of our own and a beautiful meal was served to us personally. When we finished that meal, then we went out and served the rest of the students.
Bailey was also a member of various student organizations while she attended the Women's College: The YWCA for three years, Le Cercle Fran├žais for years 3 and 4, Education Club year 4, and Classical Club years 3 and 4.

Woman's College Yearbook, Pine Needles, 1940 Classical Club Photo


Bailey joined the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in the summer of 1942, and was sent to Officer Training School at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, where she was a member of Third Class of WAACs. Bailey was assigned to the Army Air Corps and stationed in Daytona Beach, Florida, until mid-1943, when the company she commanded was transferred to George Field Army Air Base in Illinois. Bailey was then sent sent to Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, for a short time before moving to Craig Field, Alabama, where she taught English to members of the French Air Force until the end of World War II in 1945.

From Bailey's 1999 Oral History, on joining the WAAC:
The newspaper said that women who were interested should contact the nearest army installation. Well, I wasn't interested enough to contact anybody, and I guess the nearest army installation was Fort Bragg at that time. I knew it existed, but I'd never been there. But a friend of mine who was very interested in it wanted to go to Fort Bragg and see what it was all about, so I went along with her for the ride. That's the way it all started.
My father said to me, “I'm not sure what you're doing and all that. You know what you're doing. But if you've made this decision, then your family stands behind you.” That summed the whole thing up. That was certainly not the attitude of a lot of people in this country when women started in the military service.
Bailey remained in the army after World War II and was sent to Miami, Florida, where she served as Vocational Guidance and Counselor Officer for veterans. In 1949, she was transferred to Stuttgart, Germany, with an Intelligence assignment. She was then sent to Munich to command a WAC attachment at the 98th General Hospital.

In 1953, Bailey returned stateside to Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Intelligence branch of the Military District of Washington headquarters. In 1957, she graduated from Strategic Intelligence School, and then reported to Fort MacPherson, Georgia, where she served as the Head of Recruiting for the Southeastern United States for three years. In 1961, she was put in charge of the WAC detachment at Fort Myer, Virginia, the largest detachment in the U.S. From 1963 to 1968 Bailey organized and traveled with the Women in the Military presentation tour. The stage show featured a broad scope of historical military and civilian fashion, ranging from Ancient Egypt to contemporary uniforms. The tour was used to boost recruitment to the WAC and also general public relations. They performed at shopping malls, Rotary Clubs, state fairs and schools.
Mildred Bailey in WWI-era dress, 1967 Object ID: WV0413.6.016


Upon returning to Washington, she worked as a Liaison Officer for the Senate. In 1970, she made Deputy Commander at the training center in Fort McClelland, Alabama. On 2 August 1971 Bailey became the third Director of the Women’s Army Corps and was promoted to Brigadier General. She retired from the army in July 1975.

Jimmy Carter with WAC personnel, circa Oct. 20, 1978. President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 95-485 disbanding the Women's Army Corps as a separate corps. WV0360.6.009
Mildred Bailey married Roy Bailey in the early 1940s while stationed at Daytona Beach. He passed away in the early 1960s.

Mildred Bailey died 18 July 2009 in Washington D.C.

Written by: Sara Maeve Whisnant

No comments:

Post a Comment