FEATURED BLOGGER: Salute to the Women in Uniform By //Pacific Paratrooper

American women played important roles during World War II, both at home and in uniform. Not only did they give their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers to the war effort, they gave their time, energy, and some even gave their lives.

GP Cox

Aug 13

The utilization of women in an organization such as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) offered a “golden opportunity” to solve manpower shortages. So recognizable was the opportunity that Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall himself told the War Department in November 1941, “I want a women’s corps right away, and I don’t want any excuses!” Urgent wartime demands necessitated the use of all able, willing citizens, regardless of gender. In recruiting women, the Army assured them that they would be doing “unusual and exciting work” and that their service “in making available technically trained men for combat service will be of great value in winning the war.”

Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA) introduced a bill to establish the WAAC on 28 May 1941. She cited two rationales for such an organization: to ease the shortage of able-bodied men and “to answer an undeniable demand from American women that they be permitted to serve their country, together with the men of America, to protect and defend their cherished freedoms and democratic principles and ideals.” WAAC/WAC veterans later recalled this strong desire to be of service. Mary Robinson, for example, said, “I just thought it was the sensible thing to do. The British had done it in two wars.”

The 77th Congress eventually did establish the WAAC with Public Law (PL) 77-554 on 14 May 1942, after much heated debate.

Nearly 350,000 American women served in uniform, both at home and abroad, volunteering for the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs, later renamed the Women’s Army Corps), the Navy Women’s Reserve (WAVES), the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS), the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS), the Army Nurses Corps, and the Navy Nurse Corps. General Eisenhower felt that he could not win the war without the aid of the women in uniform. “The contribution of the women of America, whether on the farm or in the factory or in uniform, to D-Day was a sine qua non of the invasion effort.”

Women in uniform took office and clerical jobs in the armed forces in order to free men to fight. They also drove trucks, repaired airplanes, worked as laboratory technicians, rigged parachutes, served as radio operators, analyzed photographs, flew military aircraft across the country, test-flew newly repaired planes, and even trained anti-aircraft artillery gunners by acting as flying targets. Some women served near the front lines in the Army Nurse Corps, where 16 were killed as a result of direct enemy fire. Sixty-eight American service women were captured as POWs in the Philippines. More than 1,600 nurses were decorated for bravery under fire and meritorious service, and 565 WACs in the Pacific Theater won combat decorations. Nurses were in Normandy on D-plus-four.

At the war’s end, even though a majority of women surveyed reported wanted to keep their jobs, many were forced out by men returning home and by the downturn in demand for war materials. Women veterans encountered roadblocks when they tried to take advantage of benefit programs for veterans, like the G.I. Bill. The nation that needed their help in a time of crisis, it seems, was not yet ready for the greater social equality that would slowly come in the decades to follow.

Women today still proudly wear a uniform, as demonstrated by our very own fellow blogger, Cindy Bruchman, seen here after she graduated boot camp!!

Cindy Bruchman, US Navy

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current – 14 August – National Code Talkers Day

Code talkers’ Monument

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Jessie Adams (100) – Riverdale, UT; US Army WAC, WWII, PTO, nurse

Vera Bernard – Ridgewood, CAN; RC Womens Army, WWII

London Monument to the Women of WWII

Linda Dietsche – Elmira, NY; US Army, Vietnam, Captain (Ret. 20 y.), nurse

Valerie Ferguson – Waikato, NZ; QSM WAAC # 809924, WWII, Northern Signals, 9th Regiment

Eileen “Kelly” Finch – Brighton, IL; US Navy, SeaBee

Barbara Graham – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, Korea, nurse

Patricia Hamlin – Seattle, WA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, machinist

Lottie Manley – Hughesville, PA; US Coast Guard

Winifred Pickering – Lebanon, ME; US Navy, WWII

Judy Terry – Brookhaven, MS; US Army, nurse

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