SFC Darlene Anderson Miller and the New Modern “Women’s Army”
By Bob Nay
Because of this year’s 2010 Mt Zion Historical Society Memorial Weekend Dedication, I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with what I consider an unsung Bennett’s Valley soldier. Darlene Anderson Miller is just that modern U. S. Army soldier. Darlene, the daughter of Henry and Dolly Anderson, was born and educated in the Bennett’s Valley and graduated a “Nittany Lion” from Penn State University in 1976. Darlene’s father, “Hank” Anderson, served in World War 2 and is currently Commander of the Valley’s American Legion Post.
Soon after graduation, Darlene joined the U. S. Women’s Army Corps and entered basic training. Little did she know that she was making history as the last WAC graduating class. The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was the women’s branch of the US Army established during WW2. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit, and determination are immeasurable”. General Douglas MacArthur called the WACs “my best soldiers”, adding that they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men. The WAC as a branch was disbanded in 1978. The WACs wore the Pallas Athena insignia on their collar. Pallas Athena was a Roman and Greek Goddess associated with an impressive variety of womanly virtues. After that, there was no more WAC and it was all ARMY, with graduates wearing the US ARMY insignia on both collars.
SFC Darlene Anderson Miller served her country over 20 years in the U S Army before retiring from the service. She initially served as an Army field Medic, and then served the rest of her service in support of the United States Intelligence and Security Command and the National Security Agency. She attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Training Center (DLIFLC) in Monterey, California studying Korean, and then advanced Korean, and about 10 years later was the first female Deputy Associate Dean of the Korean School at the Defense Language Institute. Her last 8 years of service included the 500th Military Intelligence Battalion at Camp Zama, Japan supporting operational missions throughout the Asia Pacific Theater to include Japan, S. Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Australia, India, and Viet Nam. She finished her military career at the United States Intelligence and Security Command, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia supporting operational missions for the National Security Agency Ft. Meade, Maryland for the Asia Pacific, European, and South America Theaters of Operation.
Darlene received many awards and citations, but the most prestigious is the Legion of Merit she received for her exceptional service and the successes rendered from various operations and missions in support of the United States Intelligence and Security Command and the National Security Agency. The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. The Legion of Merit is sixth in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations, and is worn before the Distinguished Flying Cross. It is an award for Darlene that we should convey all our thanks and appreciation to her for her service.
SFC Darlene Anderson Miller’s military service spanned the end of the WAC period and the emergence of the true value of the new women in the U. S. Army. The Bennett’s Valley should be proud of your service and the example you are providing to all American women- in the Valley and throughout the country.
Lest we forget…..