Face of Defense: Oklahoma Guard Soldier’s Promotion Makes State History

June 14, 2018

Army Sgt. Maj. Seretta Lawson of Enid, Oklahoma, is the first African-American female to attain the top enlisted rank in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

Lawson began her military career in 1993 as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, where she completed Army 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 South Korea for a year, followed by an assignment to 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 active-Army service, Lawson decided it was time to return home, but she was not ready for her military career to end. She spoke to an Army National Guard recruiter in Enid and joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard as a communications specialist in 2002.

Iraq Deployment

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 was once again tapped for deployment in 2008, this time to Kuwait for nine months with Headquarter Battery, 45th Field Artillery Brigade, Oklahoma Army National Guard.

With another successful deployment behind her, Lawson transferred to the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team 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 ten months, where she served as signal communications specialist with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Upon her return, Lawson was given the opportunity to transfer to the 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion 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 2018, 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. With this promotion, she became the first African-American female sergeant major in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

New Responsibilities

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 separating soldier with a final review of their military personnel, medical and finance records and a final health evaluation before leaving the National Guard.

“Sgt. Maj. Lawson has always shown herself to be a courageous and dedicated member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard,” said Army Maj. Gen. Michael C. 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, Oklahoma. While there, she served as the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of training support for the Air Assault, Pathfinder and Rappel Master schools. In this capacity, Lawson was responsible for any and all support needed by the instructors and students of the three courses. Support for the courses included food, housing, medical, safety and aviation coordination.

At the conclusion of the courses, instructors and students alike said they were well taken care of throughout their time at Camp Gruber.

During a recent conversation about her role as a sergeant major, Lawson said, “I feel it is my job and responsibility to educate younger soldiers; 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 in Enid, Oklahoma.