Surrounded by friends and family, Millie Dunn Veasey just celebrated her 100th birthday in late January, but that was far from her first major milestone in life. Veasey has been a pioneer and leader her entire life, starting with her military service in World War II and then becoming a civil rights activist and leader. She is being celebrated now, not only for her century of life, but for the work she has done throughout decades of service and leadership.
Millie Dunn Veasey was a member of the U.S. Army Corps’ 6888th Central Directory Postal Battalion, known as the “Six Triple Eight,” the only all African-American female unit to serve overseas during World War II. Veasey herself served in both England and France during the war, despite weighing only 102 pounds (which almost prevented her from serving). The unit’s motto was “No mail, No morale” as they sorted and delivered massive amounts of correspondence to service members during the war.
The historic Army unit was part of the newly established Women’s Army Corps (WAC), and the women who served in it were pioneering the way for women to serve all military roles today. “It’s something about the group of the Army person,” Veasey said. “Regardless of where you are, you are, there is a bond there that one can never break. It crosses colors.”
“Thank you so much I am overwhelmed!” said Veasey on her 100th birthday. “Thank you all for so much. I can’t believe I am 100 today!”
The U.S. Army sent out a special birthday message on Twitter for Millie Dunn Veasey.
Plans for building a new monument at Fort Leavenworth in honor of the “Six Triple Eight” are underway, with the organization in the fundraising stage currently. The Women of the 6888th organization is working to build the monument and expand awareness of the historic female soldiers who did so much during World War II and beyond.
Throughout the course of World War II, the hundreds of African-American women in the 6888th sorted and delivered more than 17 million pieces of mail by working in shifts around the clock in order to keep the lines of communication open and soldiers’ morale high.
In this interview, 100-year-old Millie Dunn Veasey gives her advice to young people!
After the war ended, Veasey was able to take advantage of the G.I. Bill and attend St. Augustine’s College. After graduating in 1953, she became a prominent leader in the Civil Rights movement. She once hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at her sister’s home in 1966, something she remembers fondly and with great pride. Later, in 2016, she would be able to meet with President Barack Obama, the United State’s first African-American President.
Veasey wasn’t done breaking down barriers after her service in the military, however. She joined the Wake County chapter of the NAACP and in 1965 became the first female president of the organization.
Watch this great video by PBS on the life and work of Mille Dunn Veasey!