The birthday celebrations continue for Millie Dunn Veasey of Raleigh, North Carolina. On January 31, the World War II veteran turned 100 years old.
Veasey belonged to a battalion of all African American women, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.
Veasey still lives in her long-time Raleigh home. There have been a few recent additions, like an electric chair lift to help her get up and down the stairs. When she rode her chair down to her living room last Wednesday, she was almost speechless.
“Thank you so much I am overwhelmed!" said Veasey. "Thank you all for so much. I can’t believe I am 100 today!”
Veasey remembers when she decided to enlist in the Army. Her weight almost kept her out. She weighed barely 100 pounds and her mother was sure the Army would turn her away.
“I was underweight, but they said I did very well on the test. Only three of us passed out of those 20 women that day," said Veasey. " I was A400399.”
Veasey would become a proud member of the 6888th, often called the "6-Triple-8." It was the only all-Black, all-female battalion to serve overseas during World War II. The battalion was made up of hundreds of African American women brought to England and France to sort and re-route the mail. Because during wartime, mail meant morale.
“It’s something about the group of the Army person. Regardless of where you are, you are, there is a bond there that one can never break. It crosses colors," said Veasey.
After returning home from Europe, Veasey attended the historically Black St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, graduating in 1953, thanks to the G.I. Bill. She became very active in the Civil Rights movement, and was the first woman to serve as president of the Raleigh-Wake Chapter of the NAACP.
In 1966, Veasey hosted Martin Luther King Jr. at her sister’s home, but says one of her grandest memories was meeting President Barack Obama 50 years later.
On Veasey’s birthday, she was greeted by family and friends; most work for the Durham VA’s home-based care team. Becky Betts is Veasey’s Physician Assistant.
“Just check her regularly for her blood pressure, and blood sugar and things like that," said Betts. "She’s a delight. She’s a joy to take care of.”
Great news, Veasey is in good shape. She’ll need her strength for more parties and events to come.
More than 200 people gathered to honor Veasey over the weekend at St. Augustine’s University. One guest was Carlton Philpot, who is heading efforts to build a monument at Buffalo Soldier Memorial Park near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in honor of the African American women who served in the 6888th.
“It’s about a hidden story that needs to be told about military heroes who just happen to be ladies," said Philpot.
Philpot says there were more than 800 women in the 6888th, and they sorted millions of pieces of mail in eight hour shifts, around the clock.
Veasey is believed to be one of the last women alive from that battalion. Later this month, she’ll be honored by the Congressional Black Caucus.