Hat, purse spur lifelong military devotion

  • Published
  • By Bert Beavers
  • Air Force Enlisted Village
My love and admiration for women in the armed forces, then called the Women's Army Corp developed early in my life. I was 10 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Soon afterward, my favorite aunt, Mildred Mitchell, enlisted in the WAC.

I missed her, and when she was home, I was her shadow. She let me wear her "Hobby hat" and carry her military purse. I felt so proud and important. It was my dream to join the WAC after I graduated from high school.

Meanwhile, plans were being made to establish the Air Force equivalent to the WAC, to be called the Women in the Air Force, or WAF.

My aunt was one of a few WACs who cleared and set-up barracks, mess halls and offices for one of the first squadrons of the new WAF at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

Soon after I graduated, I enlisted in the WAF. I went through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, in 1949 when women were completely isolated from the men. While there, I was in the first WAF band and participated in the first all-WAF retreat.

During my time in service, I attended teletype operator school in Cheyenne, Wyo., and public information officer school at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. I worked as a teletype operator and ran a radio room in the hospital at Langley AFB, Va.

I still have many fond memories of my time as a WAF and would do it again if there is ever an Air Force Senior Citizen Corps.

(Editor's note: This is the first in a series highlighting different perspectives in honor of Women's History Month.)