After a century, former Army 1st Lt. Vivian “Millie” Bailey would tell you there hasn’t been anything that hasn’t been noteworthy. During WWII, she led a segregated all-female squad and has been assisting service members ever since. She is still living life to the fullest at the age of 102. In fact, she only recently went skydiving for the first time near her home in Columbia, Maryland!
“When senior [President] George Bush did it, it let me understand that individuals who were not young could do it,” Bailey explained over the phone. “It was just something I had always wanted to do.”
Her can-do attitude has gotten her a long way in life.
Bailey enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later renamed the Women’s Army Corps) during World War II.She was commissioned as a first lieutenant and commanded an all-female detachment before being chosen to attend the Adjutant General School Officers’ Administration Course. She graduated with honors as one of just two Black women in the class and went on to serve with an unsegregated unit for the first time.
Bailey was released after the war, yet she never stopped serving in certain ways. She and a group of friends put prepared care packages for deployed service men during the Vietnam War. She performed it once more for the troops during Desert Storm. She has been preparing boxes, seeking cash, and phoning elected leaders for contributions since 2004, as part of an initiative that has resulted in the delivery of hundreds of care packages.
According to her, the military members who get the boxes are quite outspoken about what they want to see in them.
“We used to provide a lot of personal hygiene items, but it became obvious that the major thing that the soldiers needed [were] snacks,” Bailey explained.
Because so much has changed since her time in the military, she says she wouldn’t know what advise to give to contemporary female service personnel. But she did provide one piece of advice that might be the key to her longevity: don’t sweat the minor stuff.
“I try rigorously not to worry about things I can’t control,” she added. “Why worry over something I can’t change?”
Bailey has received several honors over her career, including those from President Donald J. Trump and other legislators. Howard County, Maryland, has dedicated a park after her. She was on hand to witness the dedication of the new Vivian C. Millie Bailey Neighborhood Square.
“I felt very, really honored,” she added. “I’ve gotten a number of awards, but I never anticipated something quite like this.”
Bailey stated that she has very few things she would like to do, but she does have one item remaining on her bucket list.
“Meet Michelle Obama,” she introduced the former First Lady. “In 2015, President Obama welcomed me to the White House, but Mrs. Obama was not present.”
Bailey stated that she had gotten two letters from Mrs. Obama throughout the years, so maybe that wish will be added to the list as well.