×

Stories of service: Allie Thorpe of Easthampton 

  • Allie Thorpe talks about her time spent in the Navy. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allie Thorpe talks about her time spent in the Navy. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allie Thorpe talks about her time spent in the Navy. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allie Thorpe talks about her time spent in the Navy. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allie Thorpe talks about her time spent in the Navy. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allie Thorpe talks about her time spent in the Navy. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS


Friday, November 10, 2017

Allie Thorpe describes herself as a patriotic person. She loves America and all that she sees is right and wrong about it. That is why, following Sept. 11, 2001, she decided to join the military and serve her nation.

Thorpe, now 37, of Easthampton, spent March of 2002 through April of 2006 in the U.S. Navy. She served on the wooden-hulled USS Constitution in Boston, later going to the journalism school at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland and became a military journalist.

Thorpe received high marks on all of her evaluations. She is proud of her service and says it shaped her life’s trajectory. However, her service ended abruptly when she was discharged under the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy prohibiting openly gay service members.

“I was concerned people would find out, but didn’t think I’d be discharged,” Thorpe said, sitting in the library of the University of Massachusetts, where she now works as the director of communication at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

“I was doing a good job, I could’ve stayed at the base I was at or I could’ve gone somewhere else. I would have fulfilled my obligation to my country,” Thorpe said.

Once a week, Thorpe would be put on guard duty overnight at the Sugar Grove, West Virginia duty station, where she was working with the Naval Information Operations Command. An all-night shift usually meant the next day off, but one morning, after guard duty, Thorpe was told that she would have to work a day shift. She joked with a friend that she would “call in gay.”

The servicewoman Thorpe joked with questioned her if she was actually gay — a violation of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in itself. Thorpe would not answer, but was later contacted by the base’s command and told she was reported, and that on her MySpace page she had checked off “men and women” in the “looking for” box. The command said this was tantamount to publicly coming out, even though Thorpe says she checked both boxes just to make friends.

“She wrote a letter to the command saying that I was gay, that I had come out to her, that I had a girlfriend and all these things — she just made a whole bunch of things up. She stated in her statement that she thought it was detrimental to the base and the base’s safety,” Thorpe said. “I thought we were friends.”

Despite her ordeal, Thorpe sees her experience as a positive one that shaped who she is. She was able to receive a college education and receives veterans benefits because of her service. Thorpe celebrates Veterans Day by usually writing a short post on social media that acknowledges other veterans.

“I’m aware when it’s coming and aware when it occurs. It is important to me,” Thorpe said.

However, Thorpe recognizes too many veterans commit suicide, some of whom she knew, and keeps that in her thoughts.

“Military service is something that never leaves you, and that can be good or bad. In my case, for the most part it’s good. For a lot of people that’s not the case, and the battles they fought they continue to fight. Twenty-two veterans a day lose that battle,” Thorpe said.