Nathandra Hicks (nee Logan) was a fresh-faced 18-year-old when she arrived to basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, in July 1969. After graduating high school in Charleston, South Carolina, Hicks decided to answer the Women’s Auxiliary Corps’ call to meet the Vietnam War effort with “total effort.”
“Back then, girls really weren’t going into the military. That was your last resort if you really couldn’t afford to go to college,” said Hicks, who had wanted to be a school teacher. “(My) dad said go into the Army because you’ll make rank faster.”
At Fort McClellan, she also completed Advanced Individual Training. But, Army life was considerably different from life outside the barracks, said Hicks, who worked as a clerk and in the mailroom.
While the Army was integrated, allowing people of all ethnicities to serve alongside one another, the 1960s South was not. Segregation forbade races from mixing with each other.
For Hicks, the Army provided the opportunity to co-mingle and to advance based solely on aptitude. The military did not care about a Soldier’s race. It cared about a Soldier’s performance, ability to contribute to the force and to the good of the nation.
Hicks said, “It wasn’t about the color of your skin. It was about what you could give to the Army in the process of your career and how you could support.”
The women of the WAC took care of their responsibilities. They upheld their oath.
“We did our part as co-partners to our male counterparts,” Hicks said. “We worked together. We were well-respected as WACs.”
While male service members went off to war, WAC Soldiers took care of the jobs that the men could not fulfill while overseas.
During her service, Hicks said she learned valuable lifelong lessons.
“To always be aware of what’s going on around you at all times … always make sure you are able to offer help without injuring or endangering yourself.”
Hicks made the most of her opportunities, and embraced the community of Fort Huachuca, Arizona, her last duty station before separating in 1971 to marry and to rear her daughter, the first of two children.
Pregnant women were not allowed to serve during that era.
“My husband said we would only have one green-suiter in the Family,” she explained.
In the years since, with Congress eventually passing a law allowing female service members to remain on duty if they could make accommodations for their children, Hicks has been delighted to see expectant mothers in uniform walking around Fort Bragg.
She said she loved the Army and would have stayed in until retirement if she had been permitted to do so. She loved it so much that she has spent her professional life at Fort Bragg.
The Army was an inclusive world, an environment in which a Soldier could rise to top rank based on being proficient and on taking care of fellow Soldiers.
It still is inclusive and chock full of opportunities.
Today, Hicks serves as the office administrative coordinator in the Fort Bragg Garrison Public Affairs Office. She enjoys serving in her church, traveling and mentoring young children.
So, all these years later, she will always remember how the Army advanced her life and her career.
“It really made me mature earlier than I thought I would,” Hicks said.