Albaugh has assisted other military veterans for decades
Editor’s note: This article is part of The Inter-Mountain’s Unsung Heroes series for 2018, which features veterans in our area sharing first-hand accounts of their military service. The series will be published each Monday through Veterans Day.
BUCKHANNON — For Mary Albaugh, joining the military was a door that opened multiple opportunities — to get an education, travel and the chance to assist local veterans.
Albaugh, who currently serves on Buckhannon City Council, grew up in a small town called Marlow, Georgia, along with five siblings.
During the Vietnam War, Albaugh lost her only brother, who was enlisted in the United States Army. Soon after, Albaugh lost her mother.
“There was nothing for me because I could not go to college, and I wanted to go to college because I had the grades and the education,” she said.
After high school graduation in 1971, Albaugh married her boyfriend at the time, who joined the United States Navy.
A year later, Albaugh joined the Navy.
During that time period, Albaugh said it was difficult being in the military as a woman because the men were still adjusting to women being allowed to join.
“But at that time, they didn’t put females veterans on ships, so I couldn’t go to sea duty,” she explained.
In the beginning of Albaugh’s military career, she worked at a Navy base in Patuxent, Maryland, and her then-husband worked in Norfolk, Virginia.
“I worked at a coffee shop, and made sandwiches for the crew when we would go flying in these big VP30 airplanes,” she said.
After a year of working in the coffee shop, Albaugh was transferred to Charleston, South Carolina, where she stayed for the rest of her enlistment.
“I worked in the military personnel office … and worked with military personnel records,” she explained, adding she worked with veterans who were on medical hold.
Albaugh worked with military personnel until 1977, when she decided not to reenlist.
Though Albaugh was only in the Navy for four years, she has continued to dedicate years to serving local veterans and working with military personnel.
“I stayed in the Navy Reserves for about two years, and then (my husband and I) left and went to Hawaii,” she said.
During her time in Hawaii, Albaugh said her husband worked at Naval Air Station Barbers Point and she worked in civil service.
After six years, the two returned to South Carolina, where she worked at the naval station as a civil servant in the supply department.
Then, Albaugh and her husband were transferred to a Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Georgia, where she worked in the supply department at that naval base, which wasn’t even built yet.
“I watched that base grow, and be built. And then within the supply department, I excelled with (my title) working with military people,” Albaugh said, adding she became a supply specialist.
The base and community grew rapidly, building “probably four new schools” over a 15 year period, she said.
Eventually, Albaugh’s path landed her in West Virginia with her current husband of 25 years.
Albaugh said when Morgan Perry, a friend of the family, found out she was a veteran, he encouraged her to join the American Legion Post 7.
She eventually became a member of the Legion and joined the Honor Guard.
“So I did a lot of funerals in the cold, sleet, snow, rain and the heat, just like the guys, and they were great,” she said. “You just have a special bond with them.”
Soon after, Albaugh became an officer within the post referred to as the post adjutant.
Today, she continues to volunteer as the post adjutant.
“Which is really like an administrative assistant to the post commander,” Albaugh said. “That’s where I do more active work with veterans who need assistance.”
Volunteering with the American Legion, Albaugh said she feels honored to work with the local veterans.
“I look at it like an honor to be able to help these guys and keep them happy,” she said. “And even with the Honor Guard, I was also so proud serving on the Honor Guard.”
Reflecting back on her service, Albaugh said, “Being in the military always gave me opportunity” as she was able to gain an education, travel and meet people from all over the country.
Through working closely with military personnel and civil service, Albaugh said she learned a lot about people — respecting and honoring others — and finding value in whatever you do.
“It kind of plants a seed in you and it just keeps growing,” Albaugh said about the qualities she gained from joining the military.