This page was last updated on 16 January 2010. Like this sign states--I am retired from the Army BUT I'M STILL SERVING.
Most people think I was born in an Army footlocker, even my closest friends, but in fact it was in a farmhouse in Schaghticoke, NY which is north of Troy.
Oh, by the way, Noonie is not my real name. It is a nickname given to me by my Aunt Elaine when neighborhood children couldnít say my real name. AND NO, Iíd rather not tell you what my real name is. Those of you who do know it--please don't pass it along--I really dislike it.
I was educated in the Lansingburgh School District in Troy. Thatís where I first began to write. I graduated in 1965.
I spent most of my summers on Cape Cod where I fell in love with the ocean and whales. I had already taken to photography, camping and fishing and still enjoy those hobbies BUT the ocean and those gentle giants --WHALES--continue to beckon me to this day. That is where I go to relax, unwind, and cruise. I feel free and alive there.
My grandfather had served in the Army during World War I. My stepfather served in the Navy during World War II. One of my uncles served with the Army during Korea, another served with the Air Force during Korea and Vietnam, and another was in the Coast Guard. My family was definitely patriotic.
Troy is known as the home of "Uncle Sam" and I grew up there with a strong sense of patriotism. I wanted to enlist in the Army after graduation. You see I had already passed all the tests. BUT my mother refused--forcing me to wait till I was 21.
I began college at night and got a full-time job. Foolishly I got married before I turned 21. It was a lousy marriage and I try to forget that I was ever that stupid.
It took me a long time to do it but I received my Liberal Arts Degree from The University of the State of New York. There, once again, teachers encouraged me to continue writing and begin speaking publicly.
I actually worked for three civilian companies between 1965 and 1991. I was forced to retire from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles after twenty-one years when I became disabled from an accident on the job. My talent for writing was never utilized there but I did have the opportunity to continue speaking to groups of students as well as adults.
I became a volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician for the Midway Fire Department and Rescue Squad. I also served as a driving safety instructor for the men and women who drove the fire trucks and ambulances.
One of the guys, G Scott Wright, at our firehouse took some photos and later presented them to me. Now you can see me in my turnout gear also called bunker gear. That's me in the top photo on the left helping one of the guys get into his gear. The left photo shows me on the right stabilizing an auto accident victims head. The accident occurred on my road so I ran to the scene. I had actually climbed in through the auto's rear window and then helped this particular patient out of the vehicle before the paramedics arrived on the scene. The photo on the right is at the same accident scene. There is another photo of me in my parade uniform which you can see FD-EMS.
I was born in October and that also happens to be Fire Prevention Month. I guess it was inevitable that one day I might join the fire department. I continue to have friends involved with the fire and medical service. Please visit National Fire Protection Association Home Page to learn what you can do to protect your home, family and self.
My sense of patriotism never failed. During 1973 once again I began the paperwork necessary to enlist. I was advised to wait until my divorce was final. The day the judge
granted my divorce I marched into the Army Recruiting Office. The Vietnam War was winding down but I still wanted to serve where I was needed. There was one delay after another but I raised my hand and swore an allegiance to serve my country in the United States Army Reserve on 4 January 1975.
Although the Women's Army Corps medal was only issued to the women who served during
World War II--I believe that all women--who served in the Army, Army Reserve, or
National Guard until 1978 when the Women's Army Corps was
disestablished--deserve this medal as well.
I was sent to Fort McClellan, AL for Basic Training as a Private First Class (E-3). Already having college and some work experience helped to start me off with a little more rank than Private (E-1).
My first assignment was with the 364th General Hospital in Albany, NY which belonged to the 77th ARCOM at the time. There I was immediately promoted to Specialist 4 (E-4). I began as a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Clerk Typist (71L) in the Medical Records section.
I really didnít want to be a clerk or a typist so I trained in my spare time to become a Medical Supplyman (76J). I took all the courses I was told to take, passed all the written exams, and was finally awarded the 76J MOS.
I soon learned that in order to get promoted further I would have to have another MOS. Since I already had supply training it was easy for me to attain the Unit Supplyman 76Y MOS. That came to me along with promotion to Sergeant (E-5). I soon found myself in charge of many other soldiers and their military equipment. I began having to write for the Army on all aspects of supply, training, and leadership.
It wasnít too long before I was promoted to Staff Sergeant (E-6). My duties increased as did my writing and own training. I was always trying to improve my troops, my unit, and myself. I was in line for promotion once again and everyone in the unit knew I was the best qualified person for the position that was vacant.
My hopes were dashed when my name was not on the promotion list. I wanted to know why someone with less qualifications than I was selected for the position I was already working in. To make a long story short, after I filed an Inspector Generals (IG) complaint, I was stripped of my two supply MOSís and reduced in rank to Specialist 5 (E-5). I was not a happy camper. After being with the 364th for six years, I went in search of a new unit and found one quickly.
In 1981 I transferred to the 413th Supply and Service Battalion in Schenectady, NY. The 413th was part of the 98th Division (Training). The Company Commander liked my credentials and couldnít believe what had happened at the 364th. The 98th Division returned the 76Y MOS to me based on all my documents of training and exams. I was placed in the Company Supply Sergeant position and laterally made a Sergeant (E-5). It wasn't long before I became a member of the Quartermaster Corps. In less than a year I was promoted once again to Staff Sergeant (E-6).
I quickly found myself writing and speaking within the unit. I wrote my first Standard Operating Procedure manual for the company supply room. The Supply Officer (S-4) liked what he saw and how I handled myself. Before long I was training someone to replace me in the company and I was moved into the Battalion S-4 Section.
In 1983 I was promoted to Sergeant First Class (E-7) and became the Battalion Supply Sergeant. I had three companies to oversee their supply procedures and control their equipment. I traveled a lot between the three units, inspecting and assisting each one. More responsibility came my way along with more writing, speaking, and my first overseas tour. When I arrived in Germany I was informed I would be briefing the Commanding General and his staff on our logistical efforts, capabilities, supplies, and our services.
In 1986 I was put on a six month active duty tour to assist the 98th Division with implementing the automated property book system. They were the first Army Reserve division to be placed on the automated system and had to develop a program for doing it. This was a complete new way of controlling property for the Reserve and I wrote the SOP for the Divisionís units to follow. I also assisted in writing the SOP for the Repair Parts section.
In 1988 I was promoted to Master Sergeant (E-8) and automatically transferred to the 1157th USAR School in Schenectady. There I assisted with setting up and scheduling all the training classes for the enlisted personnel. BUT I missed working in supply.
The 413th had a vacant First Sergeant position. I applied and was accepted. I became the First Sergeant and received my diamond in March 1989. My company commander and I got along great, we had the same ideals and wanted the same things for our soldiers. The troops, especially the younger enlisted women, looked up to me as a role model. I tried to not let them down.
During our summer Annual Training (AT) at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA in 1990, I happened to walk into our Arms Room and found the female personnel clerk, a Sergeant (E-5), giving a back rub and shoulder massage to the male Executive Officer, a Major (O-4). Both of them were in a rather compromising position, which in turn put me in one. I informed my company commander about the incident. He said he would take care of it since it involved an officer and the woman who worked for the man. I thought things were taken care of and there would be no further problem.
After AT ended we went back to our home station in Schenectady. The following month the battalion commander called me into his office. He said I was not ďa people person,Ē he didnít want a woman as the first sergeant (especially with Operation Desert Storm taking place) and that I should find a new home. My company commander went to bat for me but he was told that I was told to leave the unit or we would both be relieved of our duties.
So in November 1990 I transferred to the 4th Battalion, 389th Regiment, 98th Division and went back to work in supply. I soon found myself writing more SOPs, inspecting and assisting five company's supply personnel, and training them. The S-4, battalion commander, and I all got along very well and they were pleased with what I accomplished. In the Spring of 1992 a new battalion commander and S-4 were appointed to the unit. The S-4 had no supply background and wouldnít listen when I told him what problems there were or how to fix them.
I already had a back problem from being injured on my civilian job which caused me to get a profile from physical training and certain activities in the 4th Bn. Before long I was told to leave or they would medically discharge me. I already had 17 years service and was not about to lose everything I had worked for.
I transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Control Group in November 1992 and began taking more correspondence courses to keep up my required points per year. I completed my 20 years with the Army Reserve on 3 January 1995 and received my 20 year letter in July 1996. I filed for transfer into the IRR Retired Reserve Group in June 1997 having completed 22+ years in the USAR and attaining the rank of E-8 as a first sergeant. Now I have to wait till I turn 60 to draw my military pension.
Yes--Reservists have to wait that long before they can get their pensions, they donít get it right away like the active duty troops.
I received many awards while serving my country. The ribbons below were awarded to me. From left to right--top to bottom they are as follows:
TOP ROW: Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters, and Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters
SECOND ROW: National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with one silver hour glass, and Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral three
BOTTOM ROW: Army Service Ribbon, Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, and New York State Conspicuous Service Cross with one silver emblem (I received mine while Mario Cuomo was governor--my certificate for the award is dated 22 September 1992--the eligibility criteria for this medal was changed in 1999)
In addition I earned the Quartermaster Regimental Badge, along with badges for weapons qualifications of pistols and M-16 rifles.
I am proud of what I accomplished while serving my country. BUT I find I'm Still Serving as I continue to bring out the efforts of other women who also served.
I had attended a Veterans meeting in October 1987. Thatís where a Korean War Veteran asked me about Martha ďColonel MaggieĒ Raye. My life changed that day forever. I researched her life between 1987 and 1989. In November 1989 after telling our Board of Directors what I had learned about Maggie, I became the co-chair of the "Medals for Maggie" committee. I spearheaded the effort to get her honored until we were successful in November 1993. Then I did more research into her life.
I also had written many articles which appeared in newspapers, journals, and magazines between 1973 and 1996. However, my first book to be published, Memories of Maggie--Martha Raye: A Legend Spanning Three Wars, was released to the general public in February 1996. In March it was listed as the #1 best selling book in Waco, TX. It had a second printing done in April 1996 and became the #4 best seller at the Pentagon Book Store inside The Pentagon.
Since Memories of Maggie was released I have been traveling around the country speaking to groups about her, the book, doing research, writing, getting published, difficulties with getting noticed, my own service to our country, and several other topics. Iíve learned a lot over the years and I want to share it with as many people as I can.
In 1997 I was pleased when the webmaster of the Military-Network asked me to write a column for his web page. My column, The Sarge, can be found by clicking on "Our Staff" at Military-Network. I hope you will visit it often and respond to anything I write about.
In between traveling and speaking across the USA, I wrote another book. It is about how my life has changed thanks to Martha Raye. My publisher looked at the manuscript and liked it as much as my first book. Potpourri Of War: Labors of Love Remembered was released for the pre-publication orders on the real Memorial Day, 30 May 1998. I did a mini-kickoff in my hometown area the first week of June 1998. AND it was officially released to the public on Flag Day, 14 June, in Seekonk, MA following the groundbreaking for the Seekonk Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
In one hour more books were sold that day than two of the New York Times best sellers sold during that same week in the bookstores in the Seekonk/Providence, RI area. The following week I sold just as many books in Albuquerque, NM during the Special Forces Association Convention. What a start for this fascinating book.
I put the articles I wrote during 1998 for Military-Network into a book called The Sarge's Thoughts: Volume I, the articles I did during 1999 are in The Sarge's Thoughts: Volume II, those written in 2000 were put into The Sarge's Thoughts: Volume III, and the articles done in 2001 are in The Sarge's Thoughts: Volume IV. Due to the events of 9/11/01 I didn't/couldn't concentrate much so I didn't write a lot so I put those articles that I did during 2002 and 2003 into The Sarge's Thought's: Volume V. All of these books have been published by Tales and Whales Publishing and autographed copies are available through them as well as here.
I continue to write and speak. I have begun to write book reviews for the Internet. I self-published two children's books (Mom Wears Combat Boots and its twin Dad Wears Combat Boots) which can be ordered both here on this website as well as at my Tales and Whales Publishing website.
More importantly I wrote a book about women who served our country since World War I which is titled Women At Risk: We Also Served. I had a hard time finding a publisher for it and was going to self-publish it also through Tales and Whales Publishing but then I turned to the Writers Club Press imprint division of iUniverse.com to have it done. Autographed copies are available here as well as at my Tales and Whales Publishing site while non-autographed copies can be ordered through the iUniverse website.
I'll continue to collect information about women who served until I find a publisher for that book. Meanwhile I'm working on another childrenís book, one about my travels the past few years, and my own autobiography. I keep busy and meet new people everyday both in person and over the Internet.
Most importantly I have made my national/international television debut. That's right--I took part in the A&E Biography about Martha "Colonel Maggie" Raye titled "Martha Raye: In Love and War." It premiered on 9 October 1999. Sadly it has not yet be rerun even though A&E said they ran out of the video tapes they produced of the program.
I still have a house in New York which I have returned to--though I no longer can deal with the cold, damp weather of the NY winters. I've been traveling a lot and living in many places including Texas, Kansas, Georgia and Virginia. I began spending time doing research and selling my books at the military installations across the country. BUT regardless of where I get my mail these days--I still think of myself as a transplanted Texan so I fly the Texas flag here--although I liked the state much better when Ann Richards was governor I really like the weather in central Texas!
I have done, learned, and traveled a lot. I've also had the opportunity to meet many fascinating people along the way. I hope to continue writing and speaking as long as my health and finances continue to hold out.
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Copyright 2004-2014 by Noonie Fortin. All rights reserved.