honoring the waves and rosie the riveters of wwii
april 20, 2014
Our own Helen Jenkins was among those women honored at Fort Sam Houston, by Commander Corry Juedeman, Commanding Officer Navy Recruiting District, San Antonio, Texas. Helen and several other WAVES who served our country were honored on March 31 for their service. The acronym stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. Helen was the oldest one present. Their pictures during their time of service, with a little biography attached, were framed and placed on a wall of honor.
I asked Helen why she joined. She responded that she joined because her father did not serve in WW I although he did have a draft registration card. Helen said, “Being an only child, I felt it my duty.” She served her duty in Washington, D.C. from 1942-1945, Yeoman school at Milledgeville, Georgia, after attending Boot Camp at Hunter College in New York. “You know the old saying, I joined the Navy to see the world but what did I see, I saw D.C. I did one out of the two, not bad. It was much later before WAVES could see the world.” She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas and received her masters at Memphis State University. Helen closed the conversation with, “Must say, I have never regretted joining. Rarely speak about it because the credit goes to the men who served and died.”
No, Helen, credit does go to the many women who served as WAVES and Rosie-the-Riveters during the war and deserve credit. The men had to leave their jobs and families to fight overseas so you women took over their responsibility. Without your hard work, determination, sacrifices and loyalty to our county, the war might not have turned out the way it did.
On the same day, the White House honored several “Rosie the Riveter’s.” These women left home for the first time to take over the jobs of the men who were away at war. Many built the planes and other vehicles needed in the war effort. Others took the office jobs previously held by soldiers. These icons were said to be the home front equal to G. I. Joe.
My mother, sister, who had just graduated from Plano High School, and my aunt were three of those women called Rosie the Riveter. They traveled together each day to work at North American in Grand Prairie from late 1941 until the war was over in 1945. My sister said she made $1.05 an hour in the beginning and she said those were good wages in the early 1940s. At first, she went to work in the office at North American, but because the women in the factory made more money, she transferred to the factory where she worked on the assembly line building B24s, a high wing four-engine bomber. She was indeed a “Rosie the Riveter”: she operated the riveting machine shooting rivets through metal to fasten it while the bucker on the other side used a bucking bar to smooth out the rivets. They operated as a pair, riveting aluminum panels on wings and fuselage. After complaining that the height of the wing scared her, they moved her and her bucker partner to the ‘side panels.’ Later, she returned to the office. She explained that riveters had more skill while buckers were stronger. She and the woman bucker worked well together and kept in touch after the war. My sister said the work was fun and she enjoyed it.
My mother and aunt also worked as riveters on side panels. Being shorter than I am, they were both too short to work on those high wings. Mother and Aunt Bette both enjoyed the work and the money they made.
After the war was over, the women across the country, including those in my family, were never happy to stay at home again. Most, if they chose to, continued working in one field or another.
Our thanks to all the WAVES and the Rosie-the-Riveters for their commitment and dedicated service during the World War II war effort. Without a doubt, it could not have been accomplished without you and our military men.
MY HERITAGE EMPLOYEES SURVEYED AN ENTIRE CEMETERY: Eighty employees traveled from their workplace in Israel to Segula Cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel. Using the BillionGraves mobile app, they were able to practice this activity and fine-tune it before they encourage global initiative.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.