Member Of All Black Female WWII Battalion Dies

Mar 13, 2018

Millie Dunn Veasey on her 100th Birthday, January 31, 2018.
Credit Madeline Gray / For WUNC

Millie Dunn Veasey, a Raleigh native believed to be one of the last living African-American women to serve overseas during World War II, has died. She was 100.

Veasey was a member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. She and hundreds of other black women were responsible for sorting and re-routing millions of pieces of mail. Veasey enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp in 1942, which later became the Women's Army Corp, with full military status. Her family didn’t think she would make it.

“Only three of us passed out of that 20 women that day. I was A400399," Veasey recalled at her 100th birthday celebration on January 31.

Veasey said women were working around the clock in three eight hour shifts to clear the massive backlog of mail in warehouses and airplane hangers in Birmingham, England. Veasey would also serve in Rouen, France. She was discharged with a final rank of Staff Sergeant.

“It’s something about the group of the Army person. Regardless of where you are, there is a bond there that one can never break," said Veasey. "It crosses colors.”

On Veasey's 100th birthday, almost out of breath at times, Veasey read "A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi."

Veasey’s niece, Elsie Thompson, lived only a few minutes away from her aunt and planned a grand birthday event at St. Augustine's University in Raleigh, soon after the party at home. More than 100 family members and friends attended. Thompson said it was important to celebrate there.

“She’s always with education, it was key to her," said Thompson. "She always encouraged us, get your education, get your education, get your education.”

Veasey returned from Europe and earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Augustine’s in 1953 and later, a master’s degree from North Carolina Central University. Veasey retired in 1988 as director of career planning and placement cooperative education at St. Augustine's.

Veasey was active in the Civil Rights Movement and served as the first female president of the Raleigh-Wake Chapter of the NAACP. She also served in leadership roles in her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Veasey was not able to make a February event in Washington, D.C., where she was to receive an award from the Congressional Black Caucus. And she did not live long enough to see a memorial to her 6888th battalion. Efforts are underway to build a monument at Buffalo Soldier Memorial Park near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

"Her heart was tired," said Thompson. Veasey died March 9, 2018.

Veasey's viewing will take place March 15, 2018 at Haywood Funeral Home is Raleigh. The funeral service is at noon, March 16, 2018 at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, Raleigh. She will be buried March 19, 2018 at Raleigh National Cemetery.