One must not forget the civilian men and women who run the service clubs, craft shops, libraries and organize entertainment, educational and recreational programs for military personnel throughout the world ... in peacetime and in combat zones. Special Services has been a mainstay for morale and welfare programs throughout the military for decades.
An intriguing new site Reflections honoring the women and men who have worked with the morale, welfare and recreation programs for our armed forces has begun gathering the history of these dedicated folks who also served.
Salute to Martha Raye - more than just an actress -
And perhaps the most unsung of all...
Unlike other women who served their country in a military capacity during World War II, militarization as anticipated for the WASP, Women Airforce Service Pilots, was never realized. The thirty-eight women who died in the line of duty were buried without military honors. WASP did not enjoy the privileges of other veterans after the war ended, even though they flew military aircraft. Benefits such as the G.I. Bill to pay for schooling, low interest housing loans or VA benefits.
In the mid-1970's, newspapers announced that the Air Force planned to train its "first women military pilots." In objection to this, the WASP, who were really the first women military pilots, campaigned for several years for the military recognition they deserved.
Four members of the United States Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) receive final instructions as they chart a cross-country course on the flight line. Assigned to the ferrying division of the United States Army Air Transport Command, the women pilots belong to the first class of American women to complete a rigorous nine-week transitional flight training course in handling B-26 Marauder medium bombers. They have been given special assignments with the U.S. Army Air Forces as tow target pilots. (National Archives Photo).
This recognition finally came in 1977 when Congress declared that WASP were indeed veterans of World War II. Official military acceptance came from the Air Force in 1979. In 1984, each WASP was awarded the Victory Medal. Those who served for more than one year were also awarded the American Theater medal.
For more about the WASP visit Andy Hailey's great WASP Web Pages: WASP
the WWII WASP site:
also the excellent Texas Women's University site at WASP
and this great new WASP site - WASP on the WEB.
For a wonderful personal glimpse of WASP Mabel Rawlinson, who gave her life while serving, please visit: Mabel Rawlinson
Famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart
said it best in her book
when she talked about her flying:
"Then, too, there was my belief that now and then
women should do for themselves what men have already done...
and occasionally what men have not done...thereby establishing
them selves as persons, and perhaps encouraging other
women toward greater independence of thought and action."
Women Mariners in World War II
Clara Gordon Main, a stewardess on the SS President Harrison was among the first American Prisoners of War. The ship was captured by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, while rescuing U.S. Marines from China.
Mary Cullom Kimbro of Nashville, Tennessee was a Stewardess aboard the SS City of Birmingham which was torpedoed by U-202 on June 30, 1942. Mary Cullom Kimbro was 53 years old when she died in the torpedo attack on her ship. Later in the war, a Liberty ship was named in her honor.
Winifred Grey of New Orleans, Louisiana was one of 10 crew members lost on the SS Robert E. Lee when it was torpedoed by U-166 on July 30, 1942.
Dolores Martinez died when the unarmed Hog Islander SS Prusa was torpedoed by the Japanese I-172 on December 19, 1941.
Mrs. Edna T. Johansson, the first female recipient of the Merchant Marine Combat Bar with Star, was a stewardess aboard the liner SS Sixaola.
Visit the official U.S. Merchant Marine site for more about the brave women who served. Women in the Merchant Marine
Fortunately so many women of independent thought and action answered the call during WWII. We can not ignore the many who served stateside, the many who trained those who went overseas. Nor can we ignore the women who enlisted at the end of the war, or the black women who were relegated to caring for prisoners. We cannot discount the thousands of women who tried but didn't quite make it in to the service, for whatever reason, yet we must laud them too for their motivation.
Because in time of crisis the woman power of America
was there...and so...proudly... we hail the 400,000
who served in uniform...and those who also served.
Sketch of the famous Rosie the Riveter Post cover
by Norman Rockwell.
And certainly every one of the literally millions of women who became the mainstay of war production by working in the shipyards, the aircraft factories, and office buildings nationwide deserves a special thank you. Without woman power in the factories and offices there would not have been the all out production that maintained the war effort.
The J. Howard Miller poster "We Can Do It"
often mistakenly called Rosie the Riveter.
More about women in war: Post WWII and Korea Women
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