Boozman Shares Gulf War Veteran’s Service Memories in Recognition of Women’s History Month
Mar 15 2021
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Gulf War veteran Master Sergeant (retired) Marilyn (Sue) Newton in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Newton grew up in Clarendon, Arkansas. As the daughter of a farmer who served in World War II and a factory worker, Sue understood the importance of patriotism, public service and hard work from a very young age.
After hearing the Arkansas Army National Guard would be training in Germany, she became interested in joining.
“We wanted to go to Germany,” she laughed.
Her desire to travel led to a successful military career with the Arkansas Army National Guard that started on September 16, 1977.
Newton began her service as an automotive and fire control instrument repairman. She recalled the resentment she initially experienced from some of her colleagues.
“Some [men] were not very accepting of women being in the guard; some were, but you just had to kind of prove yourself and eventually I guess we did.”
A few years later, Sue went to Officer Candidate School. By the time she graduated, she was working full-time as an enlisted member with the Arkansas National Guard and she and her husband were expecting their first child. Sue decided not to accept her commission, because she would have to give up her job to do so.
After over a decade of continued service in the Arkansas Army National Guard, her unit, the 224th Maintenance Company, was called up for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. While deployed, Sue’s primary job was to order needed automotive repair parts. She shared how peaceful it could be in the desert drinking a cup of coffee and watching the sunrise. But it did get noisy. Sue recalled how her unit was located near a fuel point, and things changed when the battle started.
“It was just convoy after convoy after convoy after convoy going north,” she recalled. “We had this little hill we could sit up on top at night and look and all you could see were headlights going north. Then two to three days later everyone was coming back because the ground war was over.”
Sue returned home to her family in May of 1991 and continued her service. Later, she completed the Sergeants Major Academy, achieving the rare accomplishment of graduating from both the Officer Candidate School and the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. Though Sue was qualified to be a commissioned officer and a Sergeant Major, she was never able to reap the benefits of her efforts due to being a working mother and the lack of opportunities available to her at that time and place in her career.
Newton was a dedicated member of the National Guard who loved her job, so much so she was reluctant to leave. She continues to laugh about her constantly changing retirement date.
“I am probably the only person in the Arkansas National Guard, maybe in the whole United States, that retired three times,” she joked.
Newton ultimately retired in 2011 after serving 34 years in the Arkansas National Guard and is enjoying her well-deserved retirement in North Little Rock.
“I’m proud to recognize the military service of Sue Newton. Throughout her career she demonstrated her commitment, dedication and willingness to serve her state and nation. We will always be thankful for her sacrifice and contributions while in uniform. I am pleased to have the opportunity to preserve her memories,” Boozman said.
Boozman will submit Newton’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans. The interview was conducted by Conway High School sophomore Jack Ghormley who was inspired to participate in the program and preserve the memories of veterans.
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