Carter County women made huge contributions during WWII
BY ROZELLA HARDIN
During World War II, 57 women from Carter County served along with their brothers as members of the military — they were the Molly Pitchers of the Second World War and wore uniforms of the WACs, WAVES, SPARs, Marines, Navy Nurses, and Army Nurses.
The great majority of the servicewomen were WACs.
Among them were the Aker sisters, Pauline and Virginia, both staff sergeants. They served as mess sergeants in the South and West Pacific and the East Indies.
Ethel Una Kyte specialized in the preparation of dehydrated foods in special diet kitchens.
Mary Fern Behrend, before her marriage to Fred Behrend, former STAR Editor, was a chaplain’s assistant with the WAC at Ft. Riley, Kansas.
Lola Enfield joined the WAC in 1944 and was assigned to the Air Transport Command as an issue supply clerk, checking and distributing all the emergency equipment going abroad.
Cora A. Buckles and Pearl Nave were members of the Women’s Army Corps.
Vivian Henry was sent to Australia as a supply clerk.
Adlee N. Lane and Sadie Smith served together in the Motor Transport Division, becoming expert drivers and expert mechanics, too.
Florence Pless French came back from overseas with a new name. While on duty in Italy, she met and married a young lieutenant from Massachusetts.
Among the first in the country to serve with the Corps were Mabel E. Pierce and Nora Sims, who were medical technicians.
Mary J. Shultz was the fifth member of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schultz to join the fighting forces. She was later married to Kyle Chambers.
Edith Robinson used her experience in the chemical lab at the local rayon plants to a good advantage in the service of her country in connection with the Chemical Warfare Service.
Delores Mottern went to England to aid in communications.
Hazel Stout was a telephone operator in England and France.
The first to join the Women’s Army Corps from Carter County was Carolyn Osborne, who began as a private in December 1942, but was discharged as a lieutenant.
Salley E. Cordell was the first Carter County WAC to be commissioned
Then, there were Myrtle B. McManus, Verda Holly, Mary Ruth Woods, and Norma L. Lynch. Wood served as a supply clerk and Lynch was attached to the transportation corps.
Tressie C. Allen followed her three sons into service and was a sergeant in charge of supplies at Lubbock Army Airfield.
Another chaplain’s assistant was Ruth J. Scott, who found many uses for her musical training while a member of the WACs. She later served as organist at First Baptist Church.
Other Carter County WACs were Carmelita W. Pitts, Margaret H. Potter, Zelma L. Potter, Blonnie Smith, Desiree Z. Burton, Pearl I. Byrd, Pauline S. Massaro, and Julia J. Oatman.
Cpt. Leota A. Sharp was stationed in Texas with the Army Air Corps.
Many of the Carter County women were Navy blue and white.
They were Nancy R. Bradley, AMN Mary V. Cook, Pharmacist’s Mate; Virginia Ruth Fenner, Esther E. Guinn, Norma L. Hackney, Ruth Steppe, and Iris M. Jenkins.
Mary Katherine McQueen Range was the first Carter County WAVE. She had three brothers in service.
Others who served were Mary Catherine Curtis, Elizabeth Tierney, Hazel F. Cates, Mary N. Neal, and Voretta Whitehead.
Seaman First Class Dorothy E. Price and Miriam Virginia Jennings served with the WAVES. Jennings did stenographic and general office work in Washington, D.C.
Carter County had several SPARs, the women’s branch of the U.S. Coast Guard: 1st Lt. Nilla Cook and Kitty Hendrickson.
Elizabeth Franklin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Franklin, backed up her missing brother, Ben, as a Marine.
Carter County also sent nurses to attend the nation’s wounded. They included Lt. Carolyn Taylor, who served in India and the Far East. Lt. Grace Stout joined the Army Nurses Corps in May 1942.
Margery Tierney was a Navy nurse as was Myrtle R. Jackson.
Ruth Alice Norris and Berlin Honeycutt were cadet nurses.
Most, if not all of these women have died. However, a number of women from Carter County have followed these women’s example and have served in the U.S. Military during both peacetime and war.