Eclipse Magazine - Produced by NABVETS 2015 First Edition | Page 14

FRONT AND CENTER: MG Linda Singh Maryland National Guard First Female Commander By Rick Lane, NABVETS-Baltimore “Towards a more perfect union,” is often used to cite the role of African-American Veterans in pursuit of “institutional” change in America. In Maryland, the National Association for Black Veterans, Inc. (NABVETS) has progressively moved to implement its vision of Americanism. Disdaining the critics but recognizing their importance in articulating issues, NABVETS, later joined by others, participated in the dramatic crumbling of systemic subjugation in targeted areas of Maryland’s government and society—in particular the Maryland National Guard, the monolithic giant of the status quo. African American History Month 2015 will be remembered for record breaking cold and snow by most, but here in Maryland, the final blow against the infamous “good old boy” network of the Maryland National Guard will live forever in the hearts and minds of patriotic Marylanders as the day when Major General Linda Singh accepted command from Major General James Adkins. In 1985, several veterans in the Maryland General Assembly asked freshman delegate Clarence “Tiger” Davis, a leading member of the local chapter of NABVETS, to investigate and report on discrimination and disparity within the Maryland National Guard. Senator Clarence Blount, a WWII hero; Senator Decatur Trotter, Korean War Veteran; Delegate John Jeffries, Montford Point Marine and WWII Veteran; and Delegate Richard Dixon, Vietnam Veteran; promised their support to Davis should he accept the task. Up to this point there had been little or no interaction between the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and the Maryland National Guard despite numerous complaints of unfair and unequal treatment. It appeared the primary interest of legislators was focused in other areas and what occurred in the Maryland National Guard was very low or nonexistent on the list of priorities. Change would be difficult but the necessity for engagement was paramount. Delegate Davis, Commander Ronald Hutchins, Baltimore Metro Area Chapter of NABVETS and its Secretary-Treasurer, Lee A. Brown, contacted the Adjutant General’s Office where they encountered BG James Fretterd who would eventually become the Adjutant General serving from 1987 through 2003. Preliminary discussions centered on the issue of enlisted personnel who were stuck in the middle ranks of sergeants and trapped in a system of institutional stagnation. Fretterd was slow to respond until his appointment to Adjutant General by newly elected Governor, William Donald Schaefer, and his approval by the Maryland Senate. Meeting with Davis, Hutchins and Brown shortly thereafter, Fretterd promised that the Guard would reflect the population of Maryland and all guardsmen would be 14 NABVETS Eclipse Magazine 2015 First Edition