Vernon Milton Bailey – Captain, United States Army Foreign Service Officer

From a contemporary press report:


Vernon Milton Bailey, a retired Foreign Service Officer with the United States State Department died after a brief illness on October 31, 2002 at Washington Hospital Center. He will be buried with his late wife, Jeanice Bailey on Friday January 3, 2003 at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Bailey will receive full military honors.

Vernon was married for more than 57 years to his beloved Jeanice (Johnny) Turner Bailey who predeceased him on January 30, 1999. Their daughter Opal C. Bailey, son Milton J. Bailey, granddaughters Yasmin J. Green and Leah R. Bailey, a host of long-term friends and colleagues survive them.

A graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York, New York, Vernon later received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Howard University in Washington, DC, a Master of Public Health Degree from Columbia University in New York and an Advanced Studies Certificate from the Institute for International Development of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Vernon was a pioneer in his personal and professional life. While a student at Howard University, he participated in desegregation efforts by engaging in lunch counter sit-ins at the now defunct Woolworth Department Store. As a licensed pilot, he was the first African-American from Buffalo, New York, accepted into the United States Army Air Corps and one of 11 applicants accepted as a flying cadet assigned to a unit in Tuskegee, Alabama. While on active duty, he was selected for Officer's Candidate School and saw combat in Central Europe as a First Lieutenant in the 30th Infantry Division, 83rd Chemical Company, Chemical Warfare Service. During his military service, Vernon was promoted to Captain and awarded the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, Bronze Star, American Service Medal and American Defense Service Medal. Vernon was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 1945 at Fort George G. Meade Army Base in Fort Meade, Maryland.

After his military discharge, Vernon spent another 25 years serving his country. He was one of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Public Health Service and later earned an appointment as one of the first African American Foreign Service Officers within the Agency for International Development, United States State Department.

During his Foreign Service career, Vernon was assigned to Monrovia, Liberia, Baghdad, Iraq, Teheran, Iran and Bangkok, Thailand. During his various tours of duty, Vernon and his family traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Middle East, Far East and Europe. Vernon retired from the State Department in 1972.

After retirement, Vernon continued to work with the State Department on a contractual basis. This allowed him to hold positions as a contract interpreter assigned to escort duty with foreign visitors who traveled under the exchange program with the United States Government. He also was assigned to temporary duty posts in Africa where his wife accompanied him.


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