Woman in Military During the Korean War
I joined the WACS in 1951. I had military training in high school during WWII. I loved serving in the Military. I took basic at Ft. Lee, Va. and then was transferred to Ft. Dix, N. J. I was the outstanding trainee of my basic company and felt that I was honored beyond belief. I went to Supply School in Ft. Dix and then stayed there as an instructor. I never was harassed because I was a woman. I met a 1st Sgt. while stationed at Dix, married him later and then was honorably discharged by reason of marriage. That was 50 years ago. Still married to that same good man. I don’t know anything about today’s women in service but back in the 50′s it was great. We had all kinds of women, just as you do in college. After 9/11/01 our pastor told all veterans to feel free to salute during the playing of the national anthem. It was with great pride that I saluted my country and my flag.
This story shows how far women have gone since the 70s. I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas which was home to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Division. My job was to in-process the soldiers attending Air Defense AIT. One day a drill sergeant came into our little office, pacing back and forth while talking to a civil service worker (retired Master Sergeant). He was really upset because there was a “woman” coming to school. After he left, I asked Herb what all the fuss was about. He said they didn’t want women to attend this school and it would be taken care of. I asked how. Herb said she would be sent to see the Captain where she would be “persuaded” to change her contract to something more traditional. Well, they never figured on me being the first person she would meet (also at that time all the women on the base lived together regardless of assignment.) I quietly let her and all the others after her in on the little secret. One of those women graduated at the top of her class.
After a brief marriage I was “lost” until an uncle (former Marine) asked me why didn’t I join the Marines? I didn’t know there were Women Marines. After testing and taking my oath in Okla., City, I went straight from the ranch to Parris Island, S.C. on my first plane ride in June 1961. Boot camp was great. My recruiter had told me I could be in the USMC band (ha!) but women weren’t then allowed. Having been a secretary as a civilian I became an instant 0141. My first assignment was Hdqtrs. at Parris Island in Depot Adjutant’s Office. I then was assigned upstairs as secretary to CG Ennis until his retirement, then was assigned to his replacement CG Murray. I married a drill instructor and in those days pregnant women were given a COG discharge (Convenience of the Government). We married on 10 Nov 62 in Beaufort, S.C. Our son was born in USNH @ Beaufort and is now a Navy Lt. stationed in San Diego! (He first served 8 years enlisted). The Marine Corps shaped my life in more ways than one and I am very proud to have served. I am active in the Women Marine groups in New Mexico as well as WIMSA. Semper Fi
I graduated from High school in 1950, and after a series of waitress-type jobs, decided to join the Navy WAVES in 1952. The Korean War was still going on. I went thru Boot in Co. 52-76 BNRTC, then to Jax AN(P) school and started AK school. I had met a Marine there, who was attending AE school, and one weekend, we got married. Well, that ended my Navy schooling! Three weeks after we married, he was shipped to Miami, and I was sent to North Island CA, and then to MCAS Eltoro. Before leaving Jax, I had taken the test for AIrman. Never got the results. It wasn’t until the 1990s that I learned that Navy policy was, at that time, to separate married couples, end any schooling for the wife , and never give a raise in rank to the wife. (if you got a divorce, that was different). The policy was also that a married woman could get her discharge on request, and in 1954, I requested mine. Unfortunately, the marriage ended about a year after my discharge. I considered re-enlisting at the time, but never made a decision, as the result of a dream, which had me stationed somewhere dark and terribly gloomy. Sounds corny, but it left me rather unexcited at the possibility!!! In retrospect, I wish I had, for I enjoyed my Navy experience otherwise, and don’t regret joining at all. I learned a lot, had a lot of good fun, and saw more of the US than I would have, if I hadn’t joined. I also learned not to judge people by their ethnic origins, that it was who the person was, not WHAT s/he was. I lost whatever prejudices I brought to the Navy, and never found then again. All in all, a good experience.
I joined the Marine Corps one month after I graduated in 1966. I was trained at Paris Island, South Carolina. This was my first time away from home, which was in Philomath, Oregon. I was excited about going in because I wanted to serve my country and it got me into a world I had never seen before. I was the first person in my immediate family that entered the service. I went to school in Camp LeJuene, North Carolina to become a supply clerk, though, never was one. I was transferred from Camp LeJuene to El Toro, California. I found this a great place to be and have so many things to do. Plus I felt I was doing something for my country. It was hard at times, because I watched the young men going to Vietnam and even harder, was seeing them when they came back. I heard stories, long before these young men found out not many wanted to hear them. It was also hard at that time because I found it was not a good idea to wear my uniform when traveling because of some of the negative comments of people who did not like the fact we were in Vietnam. But regardless of what happened while I was in the service, I found that I have always and will always be proud that I served my country. We are a part of the unique and groundbreakers for we were held to a much higher standard than men were at that time!
I was ready to leave home but not sure where I should go. Wasn’t prepared for college and definitely not marriage. One night while sitting eating dinner and after another verbal altercation with my Mom, my Dad felt the tension between my Mom and I and said under his breath, “Why don’t you go into the Army?” I heard him and it made me think. I finally got my Mom to drive me down to the Post Office in Sacramento, CA. I took my tests and passed and was ready to go into the Air Force until they said they would see me in six months. I was ready to go then and the recruiters must have seen that because when I was leaving, a Gunny in his dress blues stopped me in the hall and asked what I was doing. I told him I was going into the Air Force but had to wait. He motioned me into his office and before I knew it, I had taken a test, selected my specialty, and was in the Marine Corps. I was on the 120-day delay program until after a couple of weeks I got a phone call from a Woman Marine Corporal who called me Private Henry and said I had to report to San Francisco for testing. I asked what happened to my delay and she said a woman who was to go was pregnant and that spot needed to be filled and I was it. Boy, when I think about how gullible I was. Anyway, I went to Sears with my Mom, we bought my new underwear items on the list sent by the Marines, got me a new outfit including a beautiful off white Princess-cut wool coat and I went to the bus station to San Francisco. What an adventure. Join the Marines and see the world! Haven’t stopped traveling since! Lots of good memories, lessons learned. I am proud to be a Marine, former wife of a Marine, Mother of a Marine – forever a Marine. Thankful for the life-long association.
Hello, I was in the WAC with basic training in Company C Ft McClellan, AL in 1958. I went to WAC Clerical School in 1959 also. I arrived at night in basic training. After getting up the next a.m., showering, eating breakfast, I got back in bed. Lo! and behold! the Sgt or whatever she was snatched the cover off of me and asked why I was in bed. I told her there was nothing else to do but just stand around. Needless to say I was given a mop and a broom. I learned that once you’re up, there’s no going back to bed until lights out. We had an outstanding marching company. I had a lot of fun, and did a lot of KP. What a wonderful site.
1966-1969, Radioman, WashDC
I joined the Navy just like my favorite Uncle. I had been on my own since my mother died in ’65. I finished High School and enlisted in ’66 during the airline strike. Had to take the train from Nebraska to Chicago then on to Bainbridge, MD. I had never been out of the state of Nebraska prior to that… “just a farm girl”…The next three years where the best and the worst of times. I learned how to be strong, independent and self reliant. Boot Camp was fun for me. Went on to the Great Lakes for electronics school in the dead of winter no less… Chicago became my favorite town for a long time. Spent every weekend there I could just seeing the sites. Spent many hours in the museums drinking in the beauty and knowledge. Went back to Bainbridge for Radioman School. Was one other Wave and myself. Was stationed in WashDC in the comm ctr at the Navy Yard. Was in DC when the aftermath of MLK’s killing hit. Was shot at – they missed… That time was the hardest for me to understand. 19 yr. old in our nations capitol and people were killing each other and destroying everything around them. I would never ever trade those three years for “anything”… They made me the strong woman I am today. With a high school education and three years in the Navy I joined a firm in Dallas and worked my way up to the top. I still don’t believe in the term “glass ceiling” – if you work hard and smart, you can have anything you want. The Navy taught me that. I was never discriminated against because I was female. I was always judged on my merits and my performance and it paid off. Back then they didn’t have “don’t ask – don’t tell” and I served my country with pride and hard work and kept my sexuality to myself. I will retire from my company in 2 years with the same level of pride and from the same hard work ethic I learned in the Navy.
“Yeoman Second Class, U.S. Navy”
I was a Yeoman, but not by choice. In 1967, when opportunities for women were much more limited, Yeoman was a common rating for us to be ushered into. I wanted to be an air traffic controller. Things went well though and I look back with fondest memories. I worked in an aircraft hanger at NAS Quonset Point, RI. I was the only female assigned during the early 70′s to the Antisubmarine Warfare Force, Pacific in Pearl Harbor, where I was sent to be the admiral’s driver. Back then, females were not allowed to drive boats, including the admiral’s. I could drive his vehicle, but not his boat. The admiral’s aide made much fuss over the situation and I was eventually swapped for a male seaman. I then went to Family Services at Pearl Harbor — a much more appropriate place for a female back then. There was Project Transition in the 70′s; a program to ready us for a desired occupation after discharge. I planned to attend art school, so spent the last six months in graphics at the Supply Center at Pearl Harbor. Loved every minute. But, I never made it to art school–I reenlisted in 1972 and went to BUPERS and worked in the PEP/MAAGS/Missions/DC area detailing office. I interviewed for the position of Yeoman to CNO (Zumwalt) during that time. Was told privately by one of the Chiefs in the know that my height was considered a problem; too many brass would be intimidated by me towering over them. But, still, life was good and I really enjoyed my job and my boss (whom I still interact with regularly through email). I was then a member of the precommissioning crew for EPMAC, New Orleans in 1975. Worked for the XO and supervised the temporary typing pool while the command got underway. After that, I followed my husband around for his Navy career until he retired in 1991. The life was challenging, but worth every minute. It was a big influence on who I am today. Things have improved dramatically for women — my daughter is now in the Air Force, and she got to be an air traffic controller!
”Hispanic Women in the Military During WWII”
It has been almost 55 years since I served In the Armed Forces and as yet have not seen any documentary on the women that served during the war. Many Puerto Rican women left home and country to serve America out of patriotism and joined the ranks to do their best in this country behalf. It was not an ordinary decision as Women in the military were not common at this time specially in the Spanish culture. Many suffered discrimination and a complete change of not only being transplanted to foreign fields but to their own cultural backgrounds. If was done with love and complete commitment to the War effort and I am sure there are no regrets among those that still survive for we were completely dedicated . Is there anyone that ever thought of writing about these women and their contributions? I would love to see pictures and items written in their behalf, but so far I haven’t found anything that remotely addresses this subject. Is there anyone there that served during the years 1944 to 46, stationed at camp Kilmer or Camp Shanks, Fort Dix NJ or in New York at the Collingwood Hotel I will love to hear from you and exchange old memories of the war years.
Basic in WACS, 1959
It is a good thing I was in good shape when I left for basic as we were up and going before dawn. Marched every where and then the famous saying “hurry up and wait”. I remember being on bivouac and walking guard with this lady and she was so scared that one of the cadre would jump out and scare us. The captain was tall and slender and the Sgt. was short and wide we were told to count the bushes and trees because they were known to be part of the them. They come charging toward us and told them to HALT the short one kept charging and I yelled HALT again and she stopped. I told them to the pass word and they didn’t give it so I said ID, they kept throwing it at their feet and I kept making them pick it up and toss it toward me, finally followed my directions and was told we did very will. Before they left they asked what I would have done if she hadn’t stopped I said step out of the way and trip them, they liked my answer. I had a good time while in the service and learned a few things about the south and segregation. Remember to pack light for Basic as there is no wearing of civilian clothes which I wasn’t told but it did come in handy when I was sent to Medical Corpsman school and was able to wear civilian clothes.