What this very special holiday gives me is a feeling of “community togetherness & patriotism” because I am a Veteran of the U.S. Navy. The older I get, the more appreciative I am of all the military veterans. So much history!
Beginning in high school during the 50’s, as classmates were preparing and talking about college, I knew I did not want to go due to the requirement of having taken Latin. My brain does not like learning languages. I don’t like to fail, so what was I going to do?
I loved going to the movies and my favorite was Esther Williams in Skirts Ahoy. “That is what I will do, join the Navy”, I told my classmates, teachers and family. Some persons in my small Ohio community said, “Oh no, don’t do that! My mother said, “It is not that glamourous” but others wished me good luck in whatever I chose to do.
I found it difficult to get a job. So, I talked to a recruiter in Cleveland and he had me going to Detroit, MI, on a train, to enlist, in a few months. Did I say, “not liking to fail?” Well, there was one part of the written test that I did fail, and was told,”I could come back at my own expense to try again”. My parents were working two jobs to make ends meet, but somehow, they got the dollars to put me on the train again. I passed! And it was a very lucky day – January 31, 1955. A memorable, last day of the Korean War, from which I am now entitled to receive benefits.
I am always asked what did I do? Boot camp was at Bainbridge, Md. My company was the last one to graduate there, as the women were then sent to Florida for basic training. Too many women became sick during the winter months. At graduation, we put on a “show” to entertain our families & others. Some of the “others” were from the Service School Command on that base.
I was selected to attend Yeoman School, to take a desk job so the men could serve aboard ship. I was scared the first day when there were all men plus me in the class, which formed my second family. It was a learning situation since I had a brother, but he was 7 years younger. Typing 80 wpm I was often asked to help the guys with some of their homework. My 2nd family in the Navy was formed. In the barracks, I became involved in planning parties for birthdays. Somehow, at graduation, my orders were to be in “ship’s company” at Service School Command. I joined the Navy to see the world – only at Bainbridge, Md.
Holidays, I did not go home very often, unless someone was going to that Ohio area.
I did take another test – for Yeoman Third Class (E4) and I passed!! Women were rated along with the men, so I was really lucky, again!
Rules were very strict about dating, hand holding, places to go or not go. I wasn’t old enough to drink, but the Enlisted Men’s Club was an ok place to hang out. That is where I met my husband. Married after 4 months (in my Ohio church), working in the personnel office until 4 months later when number one son was announced. Women were not allowed to be in the service, expecting a child, begin a new life as a “mother”.
Now, women in the military are called just that, (MILWOMEN). I recently attended a Region ONE Conference, comprised of Arizona, Nevada & California members, in San Diego. It was very well planned and included a panel of 6 women presently in the military. Serving our country in jobs that were once for men. Wearing uniforms of various styles, even a “hatching jacket” for an expectant mother (she already has one child) and three more years until retirement of 20 years.
There are other groups in the U.S. military called: First State Military Women Warriors (DE), Pasco County Women Veterans (FL), San Diego Stars & Stripes that meet regularly. One of them has a member, age 104, who enlisted (Dec 1942) in the support agency – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES).
Again, I felt a “comradery” however, this time, all women. I have always kept my membership in the American Legion and as a spouse of a veteran serving in a foreign war, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary. While living in Nebraska, I held the position of district and local officers.
As a proud mother of a Navy son who served eight years, although not in war time, and having the mother of my grandson, a veteran of both the US Army & Navy (a total of 6 years), as a best friend, I continue with my feelings, surrounded in this county with veterans both male and female, of community togetherness and patriotism.
To celebrate on Saturday November 11, I am going on a trip with the Vista Culture Caravan to visit the Mt. Soledad Monument and ceremony.
HAPPY VETERANS DAY!