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June 2, 2020 admin
Women in the Navy and Marines

Female Navy Yeomen stand in review during World War I. Source: Library of Congress. Navy Girls on Review. , None. [Between 1917 and 1915] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/96501196/.

As part of the Broomfield Veterans Memorial Museum's "miniseries" about women in the armed forces, this post will dive into women in the Navy (who certainly made WAVEs) as well as female Marines.

Navy---Women took on roles in the Navy beyond nurse starting in World War I. The first female inductee in the U.S. Navy was Loretta Perfectus Walsh in 1917. Beyond the yeoman role, women also served as draftsmen, pharmacists, torpedo assemblers, photographers, telegraph operators and chemists. After the war, these women were released from active duty.

During World War II, women were again brought into service in the Navy, this time as a separate auxiliary called Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service, or WAVES. Serving with distinction around the world, the WAVES broke barriers for the women who continue to serve the country in the Navy.


This photograph shows women called the "Marinettes" who performed clerical work usually done by male Marines starting in 1918 during World War I. Source: Library of Congress, Bain News Service, Publisher. Enlisting "Marinettes". , ca. 1915. [Between and Ca. 1920] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2014707651/.

World War I saw the Marines recruit women into the Marine Corps reserve, as depicted in the picture above. By the end of the war, 305 women had served, most of whom went to France to fill administrative roles.

During World War II, over 20,000 women served in the Marines. It is estimated that one third to a one half of the positions on Marine bases during the later part of the war were filled by women. One such of these was Irene Brophy, whose photograph is below and also on display at the BVMM in the Women in World War II exhibit.

Sergeant Irene Brophy served at the Marine Corps base in San Diego in the Motor Transport Company as a tune-up specialist and truck driver. Photo in Veterans Museum collection, 2010.8.

As with the other branches of the military, despite obstacles and difficulties, women served in the Marines in a variety of capacities in all subsequent American conflicts. Take a moment today to appreciate these pioneering women.

Sources: Lacy, Linda (2004). We are Marines!: World War I to the Present. Tar Heel Chapter, NC-1, Women Marines Association.

Hall, Mary-Beth (1 September 2014). Crossed Currents: Navy Women in a Century of Change. Potomac Books, Inc.

May 28, 2020 admin
The WAC in World War II and Female Spies in World War I

Women have served the United States in all of its wars---from Molly Pitcher during the American Revolution to Mary Owens who dressed as a man to fight in the Civil War to female spies in World War I---but only recently have been granted mostly equal treatment in the armed forces. One of the groups that paved the way for the current status of women in the military was the WAC. As we'll learn in future posts, service women from other branches of the military also played a large role in shifting the perception of women in the armed forces.

This photo from the Broomfield Veterans Memorial Museum archives is of Audrey Renstetter and was taken at Fort Lawton in Seattle, Washington in April 1944 and given to fellow WAC member Sylvia Amato.
Photo album donated by Paul Strange and in permanent collection at BVMM, 2008.9.3.

Formed in May 1942, the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (later changed to Women's Army Corps), was a direct way for women to engage in the effort to defeat the Axis powers. Ultimately, over 140,000 women served in the WAC during World War II. Stenographers, arms maintenance, switchboard operators, mechanics, and drivers were some of the many Army support roles women took on. Serving both stateside and overseas, these individuals proved to be both capable and effective. General Douglas MacArthur referred to the women in the WAC as "my best soldiers" as the WAC became an essential part of the war effort.

While the WAC did not lead directly to the break-throughs for women that some had expected, some of the current success of women in the armed forces can be traced to this pioneering group.

This photo from the Broomfield Veterans Memorial Museum archives shows Sylvia Amato in a truck at the Daytona Beach WAC training base in Florida circa 1943. Photo album donated by Paul Strange and in permanent collection at BVMM, 2008.9.3.

As of 2014, women comprised a full 14 percent of the active duty Army and continue to break barriers. For further reading about women in the Army, visit the website here.

Keep an eye on our website for posts about women in the other branches of the armed forces in the coming weeks.

You can also watch Colleen Sawyer's excellent presentation on female spies in World War I at our Virtual Coffee & Conversation linked here and below.

Colleen Sawyer speaks about female spies during World War I at her April 4, 2019 Coffee & Conversation at BVMM.


Morden, Bettie J. (2000). The Women's Army Corps, 1945-1978. United States Army Center of Military History.

Treadwell, Mattie E. (1954). The Women's Army Corps. United States Army in World War II (1991 ed.).

May 21, 2020 admin
The Pacific Theater in WW II

Royal Schmidt talks about his experiences growing up in Colorado and his service in the Pacific during World War II.

On the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, we continue to share our Virtual Coffee & Conversations with you. Below and here you will learn more from Royal Schmidt, who fought in Charlie Company of the 160th Battalion in the 40th Infantry Division during action on Guadalcanal and New Britain.

American soldiers land on Kiska in the Aleutian islands during World War II. Source:
Kiska Landing
Alaska Kiska Island, 1943. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/89715097/.

Background: The war in the Pacific stretched from the Aleutian islands in the northeast (see image above) to New Guinea and Indonesia in the south west. From fierce fighting on remote jungle islands like Guadalcanal (see image below) to operations near the freezing Arctic Circle, the war in the Pacific was fought in the air, at sea, and on islands both large and small.

Take a moment today to reflect on the heroism, death, and service of the men and women who fought in World War II in the Pacific. Be sure to watch the Coffee & Conversation with your loved ones as you do.

This sketch from Guadalcanal shows two soldiers in a foxhole at night. Source: Brodie, Howard, Artist. Nightime on "Bloody Knoll" or "Chi. Heights" - 2 to a fox hole
Guadalcanal Solomon Islands, None. [Between 1942 and 1943] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2004661738/.