1st African-American female attains highest enlisted rank in Oklahoma National Guard
By JAMES NEAL | Enid News & Eagle, Okla. | Published: May 31, 2018
ENID, Okla. (Tribune News Service) — An Enid woman recently became the first African-American female to attain the highest enlisted rank in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, according to an Oklahoma Military Department press release.
Recently, 1st Sgt. Seretta Lawson was promoted to the rank of sergeant major, making her the first African-American woman to reach that rank in the Oklahoma Guard, according to the press release.
Lawson began her military career in 1993, as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. She completed basic training while still in high school and attended her advanced individual training as an administrative specialist after graduation.
Once her initial training was complete, Lawson transitioned to the active Army and was stationed in Korea for a year followed by Fort Bliss, Texas, for another year.
After completing two years of service, Lawson was transferred to Coleman Barracks near Mannheim, Germany, where she spent the remaining six years of her enlistment, still serving as an administrative specialist.
After eight years of Army service, Lawson returned home, but she "was not ready for her military career to end," according to the press release.
She joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard, through a recruiter in Enid, as a communication specialist in 2002.
Lawson deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the Louisiana National Guard’s 415th Military Intelligence Battalion and was promoted to the rank of sergeant. After completing 10 months in Iraq, she returned to Oklahoma and was reassigned to the Recruiting and Retention Battalion and was promoted to staff sergeant in September 2007.
Lawson again was tapped for deployment in 2008 to Kuwait for nine months with Headquarters Battery, 45th Field Artillery Brigade, Oklahoma Army National Guard.
With another successful deployment behind her, Lawson transferred to the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) and was assigned as the brigade communication security custodian and before long was promoted to sergeant first class.
In 2011, Lawson was deployed to Afghanistan for 10 months, where she served as signal (communications) specialist with the 45th IBCT.
Upon her return, Lawson was given the opportunity to transfer to the 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion (BSTB) and to serve as a platoon sergeant. While at the BTSB, she was promoted to first sergeant and had the distinction of being the BTSB’s first female first sergeant.
In March, Lawson was promoted to sergeant major and assigned as the sergeant major for the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s Military Personnel Section at the Oklahoma Joint Force Headquarters.
In her new position with the Military Personnel Section, Lawson oversees a process called “Crossroads.” All Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen are required to participate in the Crossroads program before separating from the Oklahoma National Guard.
The program provides each soldier with a final review of their military personnel, medical and finance records and a final health evaluation before leaving the National Guard, according to the press release.
“Sgt. Maj. Lawson has always shown herself to be a courageous and dedicated member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, adjutant general for Oklahoma. “She brings a perspective to her new position that will be to the benefit of every Soldier in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.”
Lawson recently spent two weeks at the Oklahoma National Guard’s premier training site, Camp Gruber, which is located near Braggs. While there, she served as the non-commissioned officer in-charge of training support for the Air Assault, Pathfinder and Rappel Master schools.
“I feel it is my job and responsibility to educate younger soldiers," she said. "They are the next generation and need drive, motivation and, at the same time, they need mentorship [in order to] be successful in the Oklahoma National Guard."
In her civilian profession, Lawson is a customer relations specialist with the commissary on Vance Air Force Base.