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Freddie Carol Rainey

biography

On June 2, 1969, as a high school senior at East End High School, I was contemplating my plans for the upcoming summer and the future ahead. Though I had only received acceptance from a community college(Danville), I had previous work experience in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where I had earned good money parking cars and working as a bellman at the beach. It seemed like the logical choice to return there for the summer, joining my cousins in AC, as we fondly called it. So, off I went to work alongside my family for three months. Following that, I visited another cousin in East Orange, NJ, and then headed to Syracuse, NY, to spend time with my brother James (Sonny) and his wife Hilda before starting community college.
During my first year of college, where I pursued a major in computer programming, I decided to return to Syracuse for a summer job. It was during this time, over a period of two months, that I received draft papers from the United States Government, indicating that my draft number was 152 and I would soon be called upon to serve in the military. After careful consideration, I chose to volunteer, hoping that by doing so, I could secure a better position than the fate that awaited many Black individuals who were drafted and often ended up on the front lines of the Vietnam War, facing direct combat. Thankfully, I managed to avoid the role of a foot soldier infantryman and was instead assigned to mortars, a position slightly higher in the military hierarchy.
Returning from my military service in Germany, I found a sense of pride in being recognized and hired as a veteran rather than solely as an African American. It was disheartening to feel that I was being acknowledged for my race rather than my skills and experiences. Nonetheless, I had a genuine love for serving my country and took great pride in being a proud veteran. This was particularly true when our primary source of revenue came from government military contracts. I excelled in my role and often found myself as the point person, understanding the intricacies of the work at hand. There were occasions where having an African American representative was necessary to secure those contracts.
My military service and subsequent experiences highlight the complexities of identity and recognition. While I wished for my skills and contributions to be acknowledged beyond the color of my skin, I remained dedicated to serving my country with excellence. Being a proud veteran brought me a sense of fulfillment, especially when our work relied heavily on government military contracts. I valued the opportunities that came my way and strived to make a difference in my field, carrying the determination and dedication that defined my military service into the civilian world.

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