By Monique Gooch
The July 21 Tribune article about the National Association of Black Military Women incorrectly stated that Retired Chief Warrant Officer Three Doris “Lucki” Allen had been given intelligence about an upcoming large-scale attack during the Vietnam war. Allen was was the person that gave the intel to her command.
NABMW spokeswoman Latia Suttle said about Allen, “Three months after arriving in Long Binh, Allen began advising supervisors of a potential large-scale attack planned for January 31, 1968. Her report “50,000 Chinese,” which referred to the amassing troops as Chinese instead of Viet Cong, fell on deaf ears.
The report was submitted 30 days prior to the Tet Offensive, which occurred January 30, 1968, and is today remembered as a major intelligence failure of the war.”
Because they didn’t listen to her.”
Allen was honored as a trailblazer at the organization’s recent convention.
The National Association of Black Military Women will honor six female trailblazing veterans during its convention in San Antonio, Texas starting on July 20.
The roots of the little-known organization go back to the 1970s when a group of women from the Army Core, the WAC and the WAAC auxiliary got together to have a reunion. They started with just the Army female veterans but then decided to invite women from other branches of service.
Latia Suttle is one of the many brave women who joined the military when she was still a teenager. Suttle, who was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, joined the military when she was 17 years old and honorably retired from the U.S. Army in 2014. Suttle achieved the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Two.
Suttle’s assignments and deployments included Ansbach, Germany; Dharan, Saudi Arabia; Fort Bragg, NC; Darien, IL; Dangriga, Belize; Camp Casey, South Korea; Fort Lee, VA; Fort Buchanan, PR (Puerto Rico), Baton Rouge, LA; Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; March Air Reserve Base, CA and Iraq.
Suttle has been with the NABMW for four years and is currently the public relations officer. She joined because one of her colleagues was advocating for veterans and she was enrolled in NABMW.
“She was in a lot of orgs, and I met some other people in the organization. The current president now had asked me to join and asked me to be the public relations officer multiple times,” Suttle said. “She kept asking me and finally I was like, okay.”
After a few years of the women informally gathering for a reunion, they decided it should be a convention. “They knew their story wasn’t being told; only they knew their stories and they wanted to share that. I thought it was great that they started this, but I went through my entire military career, retired out of the military and still had not heard of them until about four years ago, right before I was asked to join.”
According to Suttle, unfortunately a lot of people don’t know about the 855 black women (battalion) that deployed overseas in WWII, “even I had never heard of that.” Even back then they knew that it was important to get their stories out because they knew it wasn’t being told.”
NABMW has approximately 450 members and counting. “The convention is every two years, a bi-annual convention. The last time they were in San Antonio was back in 1994. This will be my first time going. I planned to attend two years ago but covid happened.
Suttle said they expect approximately 100 Black military women present at the convention. The six trailblazers that will be honored in person are:
• Retired Major General Rosetta Burke
• Retired Brigadier General Clara
• Retired Colonel Stephanie Dawson
• Retired Chief Warrant Officer
Three Doris “Lucki” Allen
• Retired 1SG Ruby Robinson
• Army Veteran Elizabeth Eckford
Retired Chief Warrant Officer Three Doris “Lucki” Allen has a very unique story, Suttle said. “She was a warrant officer in the Korean war and the Vietnam War. She was in the intelligence field. While she was deployed, she was given some intel about an attack, but because she was Black they kind of blew her off. That ended up being put in the history books. It was a big deal. The Army war college teaches about it. If they had listened to her, that would’ve been something they could’ve avoided.”
Rosetta Miller-Perry, publisher of The Tennessee Tribune newspaper, served in the Navy for one year, seven months and five days. “I wanted to go to college, and I could under the GI bill. So, I went in order to get an education at a college of my choice in the South.”
Perry said she got the experience that she wanted and made the connections that she needed to make while serving. Like most Americans, Perry was not aware of the NAMBW until recently. “I think is a very important organization to know about. I think people know very little about women in the military and what role they actually played. I think that’s a hidden chapter for most of us, or for most Americans, especially Black Americans. We usually only think of Black men in the military, but seldom do we think of all of those courageous Black women [like “Lucki”] in the military.”
Suttle said people can see more stories like that of “Lucki” and other African-American women who serve and still serve by visiting the organization’s website at https://www.nabmw.org/.
“On our website you can see the history, our mission, the convention information and a few stories about different Black women in the military,” Suttle said. “You can learn how the organization got started. You can also donate there as well,” Said Suttle.
Those who did not serve in the military can join NABMW as associate members. “We need to support and share and spread the word about this organization. “We’re hidden figures; these stories need to be told.”