This week, as we salute our veterans, we look at a local woman who came from a Frederick, Maryland, home with no running water — but went on to become the head of the Maryland National Guard.
A portrait of this local hero was unveiled last month, but it wasn’t just an unveiling. It was a historic moment.
As the first African American and first woman to lead the Maryland National Guard, Major General Linda Singh said of the portrait, “I wanted it to really represent strength, but yet softness, because I’m a mom and a wife.”
Singh served as an enlisted member and became an officer during her 38 years of service. She was responsible for the daily operations of the Maryland Military Department.
Singh became the 29th adjutant Major General in 2015. Her official portrait was unveiled at the new readiness center in Sykesville, Maryland, not far from the places where Singh grew up between Carroll and Frederick counties.
Singh said Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he will official introduce a proposal to change the freedom readiness center’s name to the Major General Linda Singh Readiness Center.
Singh spent nine years of her childhood living with her grandparents in Frederick.
“We didn’t have an indoor bathroom, we didn’t have running water,” she said.
But Singh never felt like she didn’t have everything she ever needed, adding that she is proud of where she came from.
A pivotal moment came when Singh left home at the age of 16 after going to live with her parents. She met a recruiter at Francis Scott Key Mall while working at a pretzel store. At the time, she had dropped out of high school and was homeless.
The recruiter told her she would be sent away for training, would get paid for training and would gain job skills.
“I just felt like that was the best opportunity for me at the time,” Singh said.
Singh was deployed in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Her deployment in Kosovo for 16 months was part of a peacekeeping mission.
“It helped me get into a position to leverage my military skills,” she said.
In Afghanistan, she said, “While some roles were safer than others, you never knew when something was going to happen and you were not going to come back.”
She described how the loss of one of her team members played heavily on her and her other team members and how they had to pull together to get through difficult times.
Singh retired in 2019 but has been quite busy. She was part of the Maryland Coronavirus Response Team.
“I just wanted to support the governor and the team here in Maryland,” she said.
Singh is also author of the book, “Moments of Choice, My Path to Leadership.”
The married mother of two daughters has four degrees, including two masters degrees and a doctoral degree.
This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference in our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.