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WACs in New Guinea + current news

WACs in New Guinea, 1944

In June 1944, about the same time that Smitty landed in New Guinea, Gen. Kenney of the 5th Air Force started building up a WAC detachment in Australia. He had nearly 200 women in the HQ doing the secretarial duties.  They must have been originally scheduled for Alaska, because they arrived with heavy woolen skirts, coats and shirts.  The quartermaster re-equipped them with cotton G.I. clothing and the tailors of Brisbane were kept busy making alterations.

They were told of the deplorable conditions on New Guinea, but not a one backed off from the ‘hard knocks’ assignment.  So, General Kenney handed the women over to their commanding officer, Captain Blanche Kline.

US Army WACs, New Guinea

The women were warned that eggs would be nothing but a memory, so they purchased 30 hens from an Australian poultryman.  The WACs talked about the bacon and eggs, omelets and soufflés they were going to eat.  Some wanted to raise the chickens and thoughts of fried chicken dinners swirled through their heads.

One thing began to worry the ladies – the hens hadn’t laid one single egg since they landed in New Guinea.  Among the men there were several “experts” who were called upon for assistance.  The diet was changed as they brought in feed from Australia.  Still –  No eggs.

WAC in New Guinea in front of her “apartment”

One person observed that there were no roosters.  Of course! they thought, that had to be the answer!  In the nearest village, the WACs bartered with cosmetics and clothing in exchange for 3 slim roosters placed in the chicken enclosure.  The hens displayed enthusiasm, but their attraction was not reciprocated.  It turned out that the roosters were fighting cocks that now refused to eat.

The WACs decided to go out of the chicken business.  The roosters were returned to the village, and the ladies had a dinner that became part of their history.  It was now a fond memory to look back on when rations were worse than usual.

The story was taken from “General Kenney Reports”.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Current News –   Lawrence J. Hickey

IHRA

Lawrence J. Hickey

RIP Lawrence J. Hickey, founder of the IHRA, researcher extraordinaire went on his final mission 14 August 2021.

https://irandpcorp.com/about-ihra/

Lawrence J. Hickey

To reach the IHRA blog and express your condolences…

https://airwarworldwar2.wordpress.com/

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Current Veteran News – 

For those who are having difficulty coping with the Afghanistan situation, the VA is providing assistance for veterans …

Veterans Affairs Provides Resources for Veterans Coping with Recent Events Related to Afghanistan Withdrawal

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Military Humor – 

“What makes you think the WACs are coming to this camp?”

“It’s some game she learned in the Army.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alden Allen (100) – Ironwood, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt.

Helen Beeching – Nelson, NZ; WRENs, WWII

Biacio Casola – Long Beach, CA; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class # 2232399, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Jow Galloway – Refugio, TX; Civilian, war correspondent, Bronze Star / author “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young”

Gerald R. Helms – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., # 36306478, Bronze Star, Co E/325/82nd Airborne, KIA (Katerbosch, NETH)

Martin ‘Bobby’ O’Gara – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, Korea

Bill Overmier (101) – Albuquerque, NM; US National Guard/Army, WWII, PTO, POW

Herman Schmidt – Sheridan, WY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class # 3683763, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

William K. Shafer – Alhambra, CA; WWII, PTO, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Jonathan Taylor – Augusta, GA; US Army, SSgt.

Larry S. Wassil – Bloomfield, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt. # 32245879, 13/8th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (BELG)

James C. Williams – Portland, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 4143915, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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Tribute – WWII Army Nurses

Army nurse, July 1943, headed to the Pacific.

Army nurse, July 1943, headed to the Pacific.

NEW YORK (AP) — They were young Army nurses in World War II, sharing a room and experiences that forged an extraordinary bond.

A monsoon destroyed part of their hospital on a South Pacific island. They were swamped with the sick and wounded near the front lines. A disease outbreak killed colleagues. Yet Amelia “Mimi” Greeley and Ruth “Brownie” Girk survived, and so did a friendship that still spurs near nightly phone calls as both turn 100.

In this Tuesday, March 1, 2016 photo, a photo of Amelia Greeley, left, and Ruth Girk sits amongst other photos and notes on a bar top inside Greeley's apartment, in New York. As Greeley and Girk turn 100 this year, their World War II rapport has become the friendship of an extraordinary lifetime. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

In this Tuesday, March 1, 2016 photo, a photo of Amelia Greeley, left, and Ruth Girk sits amongst other photos and notes on a bar top inside Greeley’s apartment, in New York. As Greeley and Girk turn 100 this year, their World War II rapport has become the friendship of an extraordinary lifetime. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

“We’ve always appreciated our friendship, but as it gets later and later, we appreciate it more,” says Girk, who turns 100 in June. Greeley celebrated her birthday this week.

“We’re sort of like sisters — that get along,” says Greeley.

Then Amelia Devivo (Mimi) and Ruth Brown, (Brownie), the two women met after volunteering to serve in a war hospital being organized by what is now New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where both worked. They thought the same way about medicine and shared a readiness to laugh and enjoy life, traits they’d need after getting to Goodenough Island in early 1944.

In this Tuesday, March 1, 2016 photo, Amelia Greeley looks over old photos taken in the South Pacific during World War II as she reflects on her time spent as an Army nurse in New York. Greeley, who goes by Mimi, celebrated her 100th birthday this week and will be sharing the milestone this year with a friend she made nearly 70 years ago during the war. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Amelia Greeley (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

A monsoon on the mountainous island, part of what’s now Papua New Guinea, poured mud into the newly built Ninth General Hospital and destroyed several wards, according to histories compiled by NewYork-Presbyterian. An outbreak of scrub typhus, a mite-borne disease that causes high fevers, sickened dozens of the hospital’s personnel and killed eight.

Within months, the Ninth General moved to Biak Island, off Indonesia’s Papua province and closer to the fighting. A hospital designed for 1,500 patients sometimes cared for as many as 2,500. By the war’s end in September 1945, the hospital had cared for about 23,000 people.

“It was awful” sometimes, says Greeley, who lives in New York. “But if we saw them get well, it was worth it.”

They thought they would be stationed in Australia, but were sent to Goodenough Island.

They thought they would be stationed in Australia, but were sent to Goodenough Island.

Yet there were adventures, too, such as a 15-day leave that stretched far longer as Girk and Greeley waited to hitch flights in Australia. And there was the camaraderie preserved in a fading photo from the hospital’s archives, showing Greeley, Girk and a half-dozen colleagues with broad, carefree-looking smiles.  “When you’re in the service, you’re away from home, you become very close to people,” says Girk, of Peoria, Arizona. “They’re your alternate family.”

After both worked six postwar months at a now-closed Army hospital in New York and finished their service as captains, Girk studied industrial nursing and worked for an insurer before marriage and moves to the Midwest and elsewhere. Greeley returned to work at New York-Presbyterian until her marriage in 1966.

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But their friendship held fast. They spent holidays and traveled together with their husbands and later without, after both were widowed in the 1980s.

If there’s a secret to a long life and friendship, Girk thinks it’s “happiness and a pleasant outlook on life. “We couldn’t care less about being 100, believe me,” she said.

And Greeley’s opinion?

“I think, very often, that we were just two lucky gals.”

The idea for this post was contributed by Bowsprite and supplemented with an article put out by the Associated Press.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

followed

"It's some game she learning in the Army."

“It’s some game she learned in the Army.”

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Farewell Salutes –

 Hortense L. Chagnon – Fairfield, ME; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Mildred Kaiser – Dekalb, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWIIfb7bc2ae8dc9a210e4db2cd51e5e0d25

Georgilee “Hank” Elmore – Crane, MO; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Lillie Ricketts Fitzhugh – Farmington, NM; US Army WAC, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Norma Strohl Owens – Fremont, OH; US Army, WAC; WWII, Captain

Marilyn Gray Persson – Hebron, CT; US ArmyWAC, WWII

Vella Primm – Fort Wayne, IN; US Army WAC, WWII/ US Air Force, Korea

Phyllis Scott – Rockford, IL; US Army WAC, WWII, Sgt.

Emily Taylor – Sheboygan, WI; US Army WAC, WWII

Harriet Westin – Honolulu, HI; US Army, WAC, WWII, Sgt., radio operator

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Millie Kaiser’s story can be read HERE at her granddaughter’s blog.

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