African American women share their war stories

      By Gregory Woods

      CHARLESTON, S. C. (WCIV) -- During the Civil Rights Era, thousands of African American women served in the military, fighting and risking their lives in the name of American freedom.

      Many of the women who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars gathered at Patriots Point on Friday to share their stories of overcoming racial and gender inequality in the armed forces during that time period.

      It was part of the museum's 'Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things' symposium.

      "It was during a time where not only was there segregation, but there was also gender problems as well," said Johanna Martin-Carrington, who served in the Army during the Korean War.

      Carrington said for many women who served in that era it was a dual battle - fighting to protect her country on one front and fighting for equal rights on the other.

      Patricia Mack served in the Air Force for 20 years.

      The Vietnam veteran said her time in the military was a chance to prove herself to her comrades and her country.

      "It gave me the opportunity to really make a statement as to who I am, what I am and what I am capable of doing. It was a challenge but it was a challenge I was willing to meet," she said.

      The women hope that by sharing their stories at the event, other women will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.

      "When you are reaching to go forward, remember those who are behind you to bring them up because I can truthfully say I went where I went because of those who paved the way," said Mack.