Mildred C. Bailey
Brigadier General, United States Army
By Matt Schudel
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Mildred C. Bailey, 90, a retired Brigadier General who directed the Women's Army Corps in the 1970s and was the third woman in the military to reach the rank of General, died July 18, 2009, at a military retirement facility in Washington. She had Alzheimer's disease.
General Bailey led the Woman's Army Corps (WAC) from 1971 to 1975, a turbulent period marked by the Vietnam War, social change, and demands for greater equality and opportunity for women.
Promoted to Brigadier General, she was not eager to accept the job, maintaining that other women were more qualified to lead the corps.
But she recalled in a 2000 interview that when the Army Chief of Staff, General William C. Westmoreland, summoned her to his office, "He didn't ask me if I wanted to be director. He said, 'Colonel Bailey, you are the next Director.' I said, 'Yes, sir,' and saluted."
Westmoreland gave her a formidable task: "I want you to change the image of women in the Army."
At the time, Army women were concentrated in nursing and clerical roles.
With the elimination of the military draft and the creation of the all-volunteer Army in 1973, women could work in practically any military specialty, excluding combat, though she believed women were fit for combat.
During her four years as WAC director, the number of women in the Army grew from 13,000 to 39,000 - the highest number since World War II. For the first time, women were allowed to command men, and all-female units were abolished.
Mildred Inez Caroon was born April 18, 1919, in Fort Barnwell, North Carolina. Her friends knew her as Inez.
A graduate of the Women's College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), she was a high school French teacher when World War II broke out.
In 1942, she joined the old Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, which was renamed the Women's Army Corps a year later. She taught English to French pilots during the war.
In 1943, she married Marine Sergeant Major Roy C. Bailey. Her decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal and Legion of Merit. Her husband died in a traffic accident in 1966.
General Bailey will be buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 14 October 2009 following services in the Post Chapel, Fort Myer, Virginia, at 9:00 AM.
BAILEY, MILDRED C
BG US ARMY
DATE OF BIRTH: 04/18/1919
DATE OF DEATH: 07/18/2009
BURIED AT: SECTION 4 SITE 3154-A
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
BAILEY, ROY CARSON
Posted: 9 October 2009