Loving — but Leaving — the Military

Recorded September 23, 2019 Archived September 23, 2019 02:11 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: APP656968


Retired Colonel Denise Baken enlisted in the Army in 1975 , following in her father’s military footsteps. She’d go on to serve for nearly three decades.

At StoryCorps, Denise told her children — Richard and Christian Yingling — about her military career, and just how closely her father’s service mirrored her own.


  • Christian Yingling
  • Richard Yingling
  • Denise Baken

Interview By



StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:00 As a black man in the military in the 40s and 50s. My dad had suffered such abuse one time. He was called the n-word and he got so mad at his officer and he slugged them. And he was one brought up on charges and he was reduced in rank, but he stayed because he loved the military is because of him that I loved the military experience, similar sorts of watching, women walk away from them and they would make their comments. And so I made sure I wore a foundation garment. So nothing moves.

00:48 It was just the way we women handled it. Then I tried to be for some of my young people coming up there person that they could look to to see someone who lead with Integrity. But I just felt the weight of the difficulties just over a long. And, and I remember I was walking across a hall and one woman came up on me, and she said, you're stooping. Don't ever do that. Very proud of you.

01:24 And it startled me and I stood up straight and kept walking. Can you talk about why you turn down the assignment? That would have given you General. I don't know that any assignment would have done to that. All I know is if I was beginning to stoop somehow, maybe they were winning and I didn't realize and I got it towed. I just didn't want it anymore.

01:53 I want it out.