They also served, and not just getting coffee

On this day, 77 years ago– just seven months after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the proposal to establish the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) as part of the USNR into effect as Public Law 689. In all, before the service was demobilized after the conflict, over 86,000 female volunteers (including over 8,000 who served in commissioned roles) were accepted into the Navy for the duration of the war.

A number of rates, besides Yeomen, were open to the WAVES

While many simply chalk up the WAVES to performing medical, cleaning, clerical and sundry tasks (there were some assigned as florists), it should be noted that a ton of stateside Crypto work was performed by these intrepid sailors (Via Station Hypo: Many after Boot Camp were sent to radio schools at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio then to Chatham Massachusetts for duty as German naval intercept operators or to Bainbridge Island, Washington, for additional training in Japanese Kata Kana code with follow on assignment as Japanese naval intercept operators. A further 100 worked at Naval Radio Station Skaggs Island, California where they copied Japanese weather broadcast schedules.)

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Aeronautics used some 23,000 WAVES around the country as mechanics, weather forecasters, ATC, gunnery instruction, navigation training, rigging parachutes, and in various other utility roles, keeping naval air stations running like clockwork.

WAVE At War, Ships At Night.NHC Accession #: 45-127-N “WAVES were not eligible for combat duty. Their assignments remained stateside or in the territories of Hawaii and Alaska. But recruiting posters often depicted the contributions of WAVES to combat victories. Here, Falter superimposes a female enlistee over a battle scene, as though she stands for all the WAVES-parachute riggers, machinists’ mates, gunners’ mates, and others who will make this victory possible. This type of image not only brought in new recruits, but it boosted morale among the WAVES, reminding them that their work was directly impacting the war effort and strengthening the might of Navy forces.”

The below rare color photo, shows WAVES aircraft mechanics at Naval Air Station, Oakland, California, working on the port outboard engine (a Pratt & Whitney R-2000) of a Naval Air Transport Service R5D, circa mid-1945. They are (left to right): Seaman 1st Class Gene Reinhold, Seaman 1st Class Lorraine Taylor and Seaman 1st Class Mary Harrison:

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-K-5663

Slowly demobilized throughout 1946, the stand-down was brief as the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act (Public Law 625) was signed into law in 1948, allowing women to serve in the regular Army or Navy on a permanent basis.

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