|WAAC recruitment poster, 1943|
During World War Two, young men receive a significant amount of attention in joining the service or being drafted to serve. Rightly, we need to recognize their service to the country. Yet, many young women also served in the military. Their service also warrants recognition.
There were a few opportunities for young women to serve the country during the war. The government called upon women flyers to ferry aircraft to Britain that had been manufactured in the United States. Nurses served an equally important role in the military. And a multitude of administrative duties put the efforts of women enlistees to the task.
The first of the women branches of service, other than nurses, organized as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Beginning in 1942, the Army recruited 150,000 women to serve in administrative duties and still later as mechanics stationed around the United States. In February 1943, Carol Jean Briggs, of Elk River, joined the WAAC service. Ms. Briggs taught school in Elk River for two years before enlisting, explaining her experience might be better utilized in the army. At the same time, Betty Truman joined the Army nurse’s corps as a second Lieutenant.
Later on, in 1943, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps reorganized as the Women’s Army Corps. Their work proved so successful, the Navy created the WAVES; the Coast Guard created the SPARS; and the United States Marine Corps organized their Women’s Reserve. General Douglas MacArthur described the WAC’s as “his best soldiers” because of they complained less and worked harder than most men.
Perhaps the most secretive of the women in war time service involved the code breakers and translators stationed along the west coast in the war against Japan. Francis Scroggins Beck, of rural Elk River, served as a cryptologist for serval years during the war. As a cryptologist she translated secretly intercepted communications from the Japanese.
Although only three listed, a number of women in Elk River and Sherburne County joined the military effort to fight the war. Sherburne County recognized the men drafted into service. Women enlistees quietly went about the business of war with little or no recognition of their service.
Ladies, thank You.