On Sunday 12th March the XGDF of NY played host to former soldiers of the Women’s Army Corp of the Guyana Defence Force in the tri-state area as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of their unit.
The day’s events commenced with a church service officiated by the Reverends Calvin Clarke and Linda Juene, both ex-soldiers of the GDF.
Reverend Clarke is now our association’s chaplain, and pastor of the Canarsie Community Reformed Church in Brooklyn where, not for the first time, the XGDF of NY has been privileged to join the congregation in worship.
Reverend Juene, granted leave from her own church, travelled from Maryland to celebrate with us, and fit right in among her former comrades recalling her soldier days in graphic language even as she delivered the sermon on biblical account of fighting women in ancient Israel.
Rev. Linda Juene
Flag bearers: (L to R)June Barrington Seaforth-King, Linda Darrell, Naiomi Greaves and Cheryl Baynes
Every seat in the church was occupied. Besides ex female soldiers and their families we also appreciated the turnout of a variety of notable persons among whom were Guyana Government Ministers Ms. Volda Lawrence and Ms. Amna Ally who took time out from a heavily scheduled official visit to New York to be with us. Also visiting as an official representative of the GDF was Lt. Col. Loraine Foster presently serving as GSO1, resplendent in her No. 2 Dress uniform. From the New York political establishment, we were graced with the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Lyndon D Williams, Legislator of Westchester County, and representatives of State Senator Roxanne Persaud and State Assemblywoman Michele Titus. Notable among ex-soldiers paying their respects to the WAC veterans were Lt. Cols Fabian and Hartley Liverpool, and Capt. Aubrey Featherstone accompanied by his wife Hazeline. Various sister and affiliate organizations were also in attendance including Ingrid Ifill representing the Ex- Soldiers of Canada; Patrick Stephens representing the Queens College Alumni Association of America; as well as delegations from the Guyana Ex-Police Association of America and Guyana Ex-Prison Officers of America.
Member Gwen Fredericks who was one of the original members of the first intake in 1967, who would rise through the ranks to become the first female NCO to be commissioned, travelled from Georgia to celebrate with us (as did Linda Darrell from North Carolina) and set the tone for what would turn out to be a joyous day of remembrance and thanksgiving. Gwen addressed the gathering on a brief history of the WAC, choosing to relay events from her perspective, and as only a soldier could do delivered a most hilarious account of the trials, tribulations a triumphs of herself and her squad-mates and later her charges and subordinates.
W/Ex-Captain Gwen Fredericks
After the Church Service, the congregation was invited to the Wally Griffith Hall of the XGDF Association for a reception. The GDF representative took this opportunity to present some of the ex-female soldiers with 50th anniversary medals kindly issued by the Chief of Staff Brig. Patrick West. In return the XGDF of NY expressed appreciation for her visit and expressed the hope that sooner rather than later a female soldier would achieve the honor of being appointed as Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force.
Lt. Col. Lorraine Foster presenting Women’s Army Corps Military Commemoration Medal to W/Ex-Captain Gwen Fredericks
At the reception different generations of WAC members mingled, caught up with old comrades, all in an atmosphere of light banter and reminiscence especially for those that have departed.
The large contingent of male ex-soldiers present also had a wonderful time, but this day was given over to celebration of the achievements of the members of the Women’s Army Corps.
Some of the male members showing their support