Monday, November 10, 2008

Veterans of the Female Kind - Part I

To commemorate tomorrow, let's talk veterans.
We're all familiar with WACS and WAVES, but there were several other capacities in which women served the military in World War II.

The Women’s Army Corps took form in 1943 when its predecessor, the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was militarized. WAC’s held positions as radio operators, parachute riggers, mechanics. Then the Navy decided they could use women like that and in 1942 the WAVES (Women Appointed for Volunteer Emergency Service) was born. Some WAVES became air control operators, a first as women were considered unable to cope with the multi-tasking required. They did great once they managed to climb up the towers in their uniform skirts.

Then there were the Marines. General Thomas Holcomb was not excited about having women in the Marines, but once he accepted them he took it all the way. When asked what catchy acronym the unit would be named, in the 27 March 1944 issue of Life magazine General Holcomb stated: "They are Marines. They don't have a nickname and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere at a Marine post. They inherit the traditions of Marines.” End of discussion.

One last group for today -the US Coast Guard Women's Reserve (SPARs) was established in Novvember 1942. Most of the women performed clerical work, but some were in more specialized jobs. They worked as boatswains mates, coxswains, radiomen, ship's cooks, vehicle drivers, pharmacist's mates.

Read more:

SPARS: The Coast Guard & the Women's Reserve in World War II

U.S. Centennial of Flight Commision: Women in the Military in World War II

FREE A MARINE TO FIGHT: Women Marines in World War II by Colonel Mary V Stremlow, USMCR (Ret)

And a scrapbook belonging to the library:
Women in the WAVES, SPARS, MARINES, WAFS and WASPS, 1942-1945 / Des Moines Public Library, comp.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Super interesting . . . looking forward to Part II