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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Irma Jean Brooks, 2006

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Object ID: WV0347.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Irma Jean Brooks’s twenty-year career in the U.S. Navy in personnel and administration.

Summary:

Brooks talks briefly about her youth and education, including her father’s work at the Hanford Engineer Works in Washington during World War II; driving between Tennessee and Washington; her sister being born when she was in high school; attending the University of Tennessee in the late 1940s; and her teaching job.

Brooks chiefly discusses her twenty-year career in the navy from 1952 to 1973, including her response to a navy recruiting poster; her feeling that it was a temporary job; enjoying the adventure and new opportunities; and her officers’ training at the Women Officers School in Newport, Rhode Island.

Brooks comments on all of her duty stations. Topics related to her first assignments in San Francisco, California, include working in communications; increased communications traffic during the last year of the Korean War; her responsibilities on the staff of Commander, Western Sea Frontier; the organization of the office; her work as custodian of registered publications; and enjoying San Francisco. Topics related to Brooks’s work in the mid-1950s at the U.S. Naval Station in Washington, D.C., include the Quarter K barracks in Arlington, Virginia; dealing with navy personnel; and the challenges of the job.

Brooks also describes her two-year tour in Naples, Italy, in the late 1950s. She talks about working on the staff of Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean; assisting with talking papers and speeches for the admiral and coordinating his travel; visits to Spain, Sicily, Morocco, and Vienna, including seeing the Lipizzaner horses; her living arrangements; and having her personal Thunderbird car with her.

Brooks briefly talks about her tours in the 1960s when she returned to the United States. Topics include the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BuPers), where she participated in the funeral procession of Admiral Ernest King and the interment of the second Unknown Soldier at Arlington; working in personnel at the Naval Air Development Center in Johnsville, Pennsylvania, where she was able to fly, ride the centrifuge, and perform a water landing drill; returning to the Women Officers School in Newport as a director; and returning to BuPers with the demands of personnel work.

Brooks also discusses the response to women in the navy; people working hard during times of war; her attitude toward Vietnam and the protests; meeting Major General Jeanne Holm; her decision to retire; her career after the military; changes in the navy over the course of her career; and women in combat positions.

Creator: Irma Jean Brooks

Biographical Info: Irma Jean Brooks (b. 1929) of Madison, Tennessee, served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service)from 1952 to 1973, primarily in personnel and administration.

Collection: Irma Jean Brooks Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

BC:

Today is Wednesday, April 19, 2006. My name is Beth Carmichael and I am at the home of Irma Jean Brooks in San Diego, California, to conduct an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Also with us this morning is Betty Carter, our university archivist, and Rebecca Lloyd [WV0346].

Thank you for us talking with us this morning. I really appreciate it. Ms. Brooks, if you could give me your full name, we'll use that for our test.

IB:

It's my pleasure. My name is Irma Jean Brooks. I usually go Irma J. Brooks. And I have lived in San Diego for about twenty-five to twenty-eight years. My original home was Tennessee.

BC:

Okay.

[Recorder paused]

BC:

Ms. Brooks, I would like to start talking about your background. Can you tell me when and where you were born and a little bit about your family?

IB:

I was born in a small suburb of—called Madison, Tennessee, which is about eight miles north of Nashville, very small town but close-knit and most of my relatives lived in the same vicinity. I attended Stratton Elementary School in Madison. And from there moved with my dad and mom to the State of Washington, where my dad was sent to work at Hanford Engineer Works where the original atomic bomb was created that was used on Japan in World War II. He worked for the DuPont Company in Old Hickory, Tennessee, and the Hanford Engineer Works picked up a lot of their employees and sent them directly out there to work. And he was there from the time they dug a hole in the ground to build the plant until the war ended. So, I did my first couple of years of high school at Richland High School in Richland [Washington]. I loved it. I loved the time out there.

I thought what my dad was doing was very exciting. We did not know what he was doing. [laughs] But he was hard at work and worked long hours. Went in early, stayed late, carried his lunch. There were no eating facilities, things like that. So, I knew he was doing something important. And it pleased me, made me very proud of him. He was too old to go in the service, so he made his contribution in that way. My mother was very active in the Red Cross out there and helped do all sorts of war things, rolling bandages and making quilts and things of that nature for the service people. I did two years of high school there. Then we were transferred back to Tennessee.

BC:

And this was after the war?

IB:

It was after the bombing of Japan when things were simmering down. And they closed the plant. They were going to change it to other uses, and we came back across the country. So, I had several trips across country that way because my—we would go back and forth to visit my family and got to see a lot of the United States by car.

BC:

I was going to say, how did you travel?

IB:

Yes, mostly by car in those days.

BC:

Did you stop along the way and do any—

IB:

Oh, yes.

BC:

—sightseeing?

IB:

You know, New Mexico, we'd like sometimes a long—take the long route and go through New Mexico, the Painted Desert and Albuquerque, and across Texas, which seemed like an eternity. But it was [laughs] good for a growing up kid. I liked it, and it was an adventure.

BC:

Right, you really got to see a lot of the country at a time when many people probably didn't have that opportunity.

IB:

I did. And because it was the nature of his travel enabled him to get gas coupons to make the trip. It was part of his stipend for work.

BC:

So, where did you graduate from high school?

IB:

I graduated from high school in Nashville, Isaac Litton High School, which was in the suburbs, and most of us youngsters from Madison went to Isaac Litton out of Stratton. I missed the first two years there, of course, but I graduated. And it has now been knocked over. The last time I was back in Nashville it was just a pile of rubble. So, there's nothing left to go see anymore. I don't know what they've done to it, probably built houses or condos or something.

BC:

And what year did you graduate?

IB:

I graduated from high school in 1947. And I have to enter in there 1947, another big event in my life, my only sibling was born in 1947, my sister. I say always that my parents had two only children. Shortly after my graduation from high school, my sister—well, just before my graduation from high school my sister was born and—Suzanne. And I left that following fall to go to college. So, essentially they raised me, shipped me off to school, and then—

BC:

Started all over.

IB:

Yes, started again and raised her and got her through school, all the way through Murray [State University] in Kentucky. So I had a lot of fun growing up with her, but I didn't see her as much as I would have liked. Today she lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and her son, Taylor, who is twenty years old now.

BC:

And where did you attend college?

IB:

I went to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. And I'm a great Volunteer friend to this very day. And I have had great admiration and high regard for Pat Summitt, the coach of our Lady Vols basketball team. We never miss a game on the telly.

BC:

So you obviously enjoyed your time there?

IB:

I did very much. I was active in—primarily in student government. I liked it a lot. I was a member of Delta Zeta sorority, Beta Lambda chapter. And we were able to do, as most sororities do, philanthropic work and a lot of socializing. I was also in the student government. I was president of the student council at one point and was president of my sorority also.

BC:

And what was your major?

IB:

I majored in—well, it was in the College of Education. But my major was physical education. And I liked it very, very, very much. We had a very capable faculty and to this day I think it is one of the very best physical education schools.

BC:

And when did you graduate?

IB:

I graduated from the university in 1951. And I had done my student teaching in a nearby town of Athens, Tennessee, at McMinn County High School under the aegis of the university. The school apparently liked what I did and asked if I would like to come back in a full-time position the following year. I accepted, and after a summer of leisure, I went to Athens to start my teaching career. I was hired there at the munificent sum of two hundred a month for nine months of the year. It was no work, no money. And I made it okay for the nine months. At the end of that nine months, bam, did I get a wake up call! What do you do now? And I realized that this was not a situation that would be suitable for me for very long. I needed income, and I had to work. I had worked as a youngster on odd jobs and things, and I was accustomed to that.

But one day I was walking down the street in Nashville with a friend of mine, and I saw the big navy recruiting poster, “The U.S. Navy needs you.” And I thought, golly, that guy seems to be talking to me. I'm going and talk to him. My friend says, “You're kidding. You are going in to talk to a navy recruiter?”

“Yes, yes, I am.”

“Well, I'm going on home. I'll see you later.” [laughs]

I went in and talked to the navy recruiter and a very nice navy lieutenant whose name I don't recall. And he gave me the paperwork to take home. I went home and sat down and talked with my parents about it, and they felt, well, that sounded like a really good idea. Why not? Get out and enlarge your horizons, see the world, meet new people. So we filled out the papers. I applied and was accepted in time to go to the January of—that would have been January of '52 I believe. I'm trying to count back. I graduated college in '51, so it would have been, yes, January. And up to Newport, Rhode Island, where I encountered life in the North and the cold winters.

BC:

Did you think at that time that you were going to make the navy a career, or did this just seem like something to do for the moment?

IB:

It seemed more like a stopgap at the moment. It was a way to increase—The navy was going to pay me $222 a month for twelve months a year.

BC:

Every month.

IB:

Yes. So I thought I had stumbled into a gold mine. And this would tide me over until I found what I really wanted to do that might be more in keeping with my educational background and so forth.

But I was signed up for three years initially. And I was given a direct commission. I was an ensign before I ever left home. And went to Newport, Rhode Island, for my training where I—I remember it all fairly vividly, but the most vivid memory is walking from the swimming pool to the classes with wet hair at eight o'clock in the morning at Newport, Rhode Island. That's a wake-up call. [laughs] But we got through it. It was, I think, a four-month course.

And I went to my first duty station in glorious San Francisco, California. And I realized that there were some advantages to this navy thing that I hadn't thought about. Living in San Francisco in the early '50s was beyond my wildest dreams. I loved it. It was a beautiful city. It had everything that one could seek in city living. And this was like opening a big, beautiful book to a kid from rural Tennessee. And I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed my work there. I was on the staff of a three-star admiral, the commander of the Western Sea Frontier. And he was, in title, in charge of all West Coast activities. And so we had a wide scope of responsibilities. I was in communications initially. I worked there for about a year and then was kicked upstairs to be a custodian of registered publications, where I took care of all the reading materials. I was a glorified librarian of classified material is what it amounts to.

BC:

I'm going to back track a little bit—

IB:

Please do.

BC:

—to get more details from you. Let's jump back to Women Officers School—

IB:

Yes.

BC:

—for just a few minutes. Was this the first time that you had been that far away from home without family? I know you have done a lot of traveling, but was it difficult for you to be away?

IB:

Actually, no. It was just a marvelous, new adventure. It was opening up the page of a new book for me. I was glad. I had grown up in the midst of family, but I was looking forward to the opportunity to broaden my horizons. My parents were busy with their new baby daughter. I was cut loose, and it was the adventure of a lifetime as far as I was concerned. I loved every minute of it. And I never looked back. I felt no homesickness. And I—my parents felt no concern that I wasn't homesick. They were busy. I was busy. I had a new life. It all fell together beautifully. My mother and father were both very, very supportive of my going into the service. They thought it was a good thing for me. I had kicked up my heels a little bit as a youngster, you know. And they said, “Well, maybe this will help her settle down.” I don't know. Well, maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. But I loved every minute of it.

BC:

Do you recall what most people thought about women in the military at that point in the early 1950s? You said your family was very supportive, but in general did you get a sense of how people responded to that?

IB:

At that time there were a lot of raised eyebrows in my small community. Nobody else in my community that I can think of offhand, except a few, a few, very few, women had enlisted during the war. And they had gone away to do what women did in those days in the service and come back. They had not made it a career. So—and I had ostensibly started a career and one which I took to readily and liked it. I didn't see any adverse criticism. Don't mishear me. It was just surprise. “My, how did you ever come up with that?”

BC:

And was there any impact on your service from the war in Korea which, I guess, about that time was sort of in the middle of the war if you had joined in 1952?

IB:

Well, no. There was not a great impact other than we did get a lot of message traffic. I was in communications, and so on the West Coast there was a lot of communications traffic going back and forth. And we would go down after our duty hours—We worked watches most of the time. You worked eight on, eight off, sometimes, or eight on and two shifts off. And it was a round-the-clock kind of job. So we had time off in the day when we could go down and see the troop ships leaving and we could go down and watch them, wave, and give the guys a send off as they sailed off into the sunset so to speak. And I remember those evenings going down and watching them sail out from San Francisco and waving goodbye, hoping that most all of them would return.

BC:

Would come back.

IB:

Yes.

BC:

Well, what was your training like in Newport, can you talk a little bit about that and what you did?

IB:

It was good. It had been boiled down to a—it was just a routine at that point. I—there's an irony here. Of course, my first assignment was there as a student. And one of my very late duty stations, as a commander, I was in charge of the program there. So I got to take what I had endured and enjoyed for the most part and look at it from the standpoint of what has it done for me? And how can I make it more beneficial to those still coming in and going back through the same training area?

I liked Newport. I liked the city. I liked the base. I liked the people who were on the staff when I was there. As I said, we went in as ensigns, not as officer candidates. In those days you were direct-commissioned to go, and so you already had your stripe when you went to school. That way we got to use the facilities of the officers' club. We got to go to the officer functions on base. And it gave me a great social life which I enjoyed very, very much. Newport being the home of so many of the navy destroyers, and the crews of those ships were in and out on a regular basis. And we got to know and mingle with those people and get to know what the real navy was like. I enjoyed it.

BC:

And so you had a lot of interaction, then, with the men as well as women even though you weren't necessarily training with them?

IB:

Yes, very much. The men trained there also. They went as officer candidates, however. And we did not—we were not in the same social groups. But we got to know the people at the schools and to enjoy them. The Newport Naval Base is quite large and extensive. And so there was ample opportunity to socialize and get to know what the navy was like and decide if it was for you.

The major thing about Newport was the weather. It was—It's beautiful, but the weathers are—winter weather is kind of awesome, and I was there from January through—I think it was—April. The four, maybe most arduous, months. But I liked it. It was different. And you grow used to it. And I think when you like something and you enjoy what you're doing, you make allowances. And you do it and enjoy it.

BC:

Now, at what point, what timeframe were you sent to San Francisco—

IB:

Immediately following my four months at Newport. My first duty station as an ensign was at San Francisco. And as I said, I went out to the staff of Commander Western Sea Frontier and all ensigns at that time who went to that duty station went through communications almost as an indoctrination of who is who and where they are on the base and what sort of jobs do they do. Because we got all the incoming message traffic. And you had to be cleared for up to top secret and beyond in order to work there. And you got to know what all the people in this military community were doing simply by reading their message traffic as it came in and you processed it. So it was an exceedingly good assignment to get a broad overview of what happened in a real big naval establishment. And San Francisco was a big one.

BC:

So you were reading people's messages and then sending them to the proper—

IB:

Getting them to the proper place. Yes, to who needed to take action on that particular message.

BC:

Then you were very well-informed, then, about what was happening?

IB:

Oh, yes. In communications you got to see it all. And you—all you had to remember was keep your mouth shut. [laughs]

BC:

And how many people were you working with? Was it primarily women?

IB:

No, our crews, I think there were—for a good portion of the time I was the only woman on our crew. But we usually had two or three officers and maybe six or eight enlisted people. And it could have been men or women. They were communications technicians. And they knew about the machinery and how to make it work. And then we did the interpretation. We did the decoding of encoded messages that came in, things of that nature, and then found out who was the responsible party and got that message to them, sometimes hand-delivered, sometimes messenger-delivered. But hand-delivered by us depending upon what classification it was.

BC:

And you said that this was rotating watches?

IB:

Yes. We worked eight hours on and then you normally had two eight-hour shifts off. But when things go tough, when the Korean conflict came along, so forth, you went on watch, off watch. You worked eight on. You worked eight off. You worked eight, you worked off. You were off eight. And that went on for quite some time. It was pretty arduous. But they needed us, and there wasn't any alternative to getting the job done. So, there you were.

BC:

And how long did you spend there?

IB:

I was in San Francisco for three years. I was only in communications for about a year. Then I was sent upstairs to do the custodian of registered publications, which as I mentioned, is essentially a librarian for classified information. And you made corrections and updates to classified documents and kept tabs on them and inventoried them every, every, every month and sent the inventory off to Washington to be sure that you had every piece of paper that you were to be accountable for. And it was a busy job and a little awesome for an ensign, lieutenant junior grade. But somebody had to do it, and there I was. And I was the junior, so I got the job. [laughs] That gives you an idea that it wasn't highly sought after.

BC:

It sounds like a fairly isolated job.

IB:

It was. You worked almost exclusively to yourself. I did have a yeoman who helped me on some occasions, but that was to make changes to publications where you go in and change “some” to “many” or [laughs] whatever little misprints had been made in the text. They would come out to a change and to go through those and so I had a yeoman who helped me do that. But he wasn't mine full time. I only got him when I had work for him to do.

BC:

And you really enjoyed San Francisco?

IB:

I loved San Francisco. It was a joy and I think it probably contributed to my staying in the service because I loved the area. I liked the area better than I liked my job, frankly. But I loved the people with whom I worked. And the area was incomparable.

BC:

So at this point had you been committed to the navy as a career, at least in your own mind?

IB:

I was thinking seriously about it. I did not commit to regular navy, I think, until I was a lieutenant, which came, I think, maybe two tours later. I'm not exactly sure of the timeframe. But I did go regular navy when I was a lieutenant. But I was—I found that it was a niche into which I fitted. And they seemed to take to the talent that I had to offer and put it to good use. And that's always rewarding, I think.

BC:

Where were you stationed after San Francisco?

IB:

Oh, dear. From San Francisco I was transferred to the U.S. Naval Station in Washington, D.C., where I had a fairly unique job. They were not too many places where you had so many single or married whose partners are at sea stationed ashore. And so we had a barracks facility there in Washington at the naval station. It was out in Arlington, Virginia, actually on Columbia Pike. And it was called Quarters K. It is now defunct. It is gone, been knocked over. But it was there for many, many years. And we housed about, oh, fifteen hundred to seventeen hundred women and about twenty-five hundred men. And we had just rows and rows of barracks that rose up the hillside there overlooking Washington. We had wonderful views looking out toward the district from the Virginia side. And our barracks marched up the hillside. And in the middle of this complex was the admin[istrative] building where the officer in charge of the detachment and the men's barracks officer and the women's barracks officer had our offices. And the men's barracks officer did his job down in the men's area, and I had my women up in the upper hillside area.

And we had everything from seaman apprentice right out of recruit training all the way up through chief petty officers. We had a separate barracks for our chiefs so that they had a little bit more privacy, and they had rooms instead of cubicles and had beds instead of double bed bunks. And they had bureau drawers instead of lockers to hang their clothes. But the kids—it was essentially spartan because they thought, well, these people are going to have to get used to living on—aboard ship. And so they—the barracks were fairly spartan for the kids to live in. We didn't have money to do anything else. So that—it worked. And we had—provided recreational facilities. We had our own barracks. We had our own chow hall. We had a chief's club for the chiefs, men and the women, who lived in our barracks. Most of those people were married, but their husbands or wives were deployed somewhere or were living somewhere else. And so they could live in our barracks.

BC:

And what were they doing? Were they working or—

IB:

They were all over Washington. The government ran—has a regular bus service that runs around through the Washington area. At least they did at the time. I don't know if it is still existent. But they were military buses, and they just went—had established routes and went from the security station to the naval station, the Pentagon and underneath. If you worked in the Pentagon you leaped off and went up the steps. We sent them all through the city to the security station and everybody just lived together in one, big happy family. I liked it.

BC:

Did you?

IB:

It was an arduous job, yes, because it—

BC:

I can imagine it would be—

IB:

It could sometime be a—

BC:

—a lot of work.

IB:

—twelve-hour day, yes. Yes. Well, you had problems. You know, you have kids who get sick. You had kids who get in trouble. And so you had to learn to deal with the authorities, the Shore Patrol, the Military Police, whatever. But the problems were so few in relation to all of the good things that happened getting to know those nice, young people and living and working with them. Every day was a joy.

BC:

Do you recall what year this was that you were sent there, or the approximate times that you were in Washington?

IB:

Well, I was—must have been fifty—I was at Newport '51 to '53. It must have been '53 that I went to Washington.

Rebecca Lloyd:

It was later than that.

IB:

Was it? '55 maybe. Because I was there '56. That's right. '55.

RL:

You mean '57?

IB:

Yes, and I met Rebecca in 1957.

BC:

When you were working in the barracks?

IB:

Yes, yes. And that's also where I met my friend, Maxine [Pierce] who you can talk to. She lived in my barracks. Yes. And I knew here when she worked for Captain Viola B. Sanders across the street in the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

BC:

Did you have much interaction with the men that were right next door in the men's barracks—

IB:

Well, not with the men themselves, because they were gone all day at their jobs unless they worked watches, which meant they were there and were asleep. And the barracks that was kept darkened for the guys and the women who had to work nights and sleep days. But with the—I knew their supervisors, and if they had problems and so forth we got to talk and get together and sit down and have conferences and so forth.

And of course, we had those who got into trouble. There are always kids who have difficulties and you deal the same with them the same way you would as any kid in school who had a problem. You talked to their teacher, or to their supervisors, to their boss, and try to iron out whatever problems exist.

BC:

Did you get any sense as to what their attitudes were toward women being in the navy, or was it fairly well accepted at that point and it didn't seem to be much of an issue?

IB:

At that point I felt exceedingly comfortable. I—In those years there was always a small cadre, a small amount of resentment, because you were taking away some of the shore jobs that men might have had if we were not there. But I never felt any deep resentment. Just a, “oh, yeah, yeah, I'm out at sea because you're here doing this.” But it had—it took a woman to do the job that I was doing. A man could not have successfully done that, dealing with the women and the problems that they had. So there are jobs like that in the navy that need all kinds of people. So there is a niche in the navy, I think, or in the military, for people with whatever talents you have. It takes somebody to find that talent and get you into the right slot. And I think they do their best.

BC:

Where were you sent after that? Is this when you headed to Europe?

IB:

From Washington—Yes, I—this job that I had there in Washington was somewhat considered by our women's officer assignment detailer as arduous duty, because it—the hours were long and the challenges were many. And so she chose to send me off on a tour to Italy.

BC:

Had you requested to be sent overseas or was this—

IB:

Oh, everybody requested to go overseas, of course it was on my choice card. Anywhere overseas. Italy, if possible, was kind of what I had on the thing. And bless her heart—

BC:

She gave you your first choice?

IB:

Yes, she came up and she says, “My dear, you have done well. How would you like to go to Naples for a couple of years?”

BC:

And I think I almost ran across the rug and kissed her. I said, “How soon would you like me to be ready to go?” And that was indeed terrific. She sent me to the staff of Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean, which was another three-star admiral staff. And he was in charge of coordinating shore activities in the Mediterranean areas: Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece. And it was delightful. I worked there as the admin officer, we call them administrative officer or administration officer. And my immediate boss was the flag secretary.

BC:

And what—Can you explain what that is?

IB:

It's taking care of paperwork: writing letters for the admiral. He would send word in and say, “I've got to give a speech next Friday,” and give you a topic. And he would say, “I need a talking paper.” So, we'd sit down and try to find what is necessary to form his point of view. And he'd give you a glimpse. He'd say, “Come and talk to me.” And he would give you a glimpse. “This is what I want to come—explain to these people. This is what I want them—the gist of the message I want to give.” And I would put together either some help talking paper for his flag secretary to put together for his speech or we would write the letters. I would write the letters to people saying he was coming and what he would like to do while he was there and what sort of accommodations he would need and that sort of thing, any special needs that had to be tended to. It was just taking care of getting the daily job in all these places. And I got to travel to some of those places to meet the people with whom I worked. When he would go down and take his plane he would often invite people to go along with him. So the opportunity was there to make the flight and see the people that you got—that you were working with, talking on the phone, dealing with on a daily basis.

BC:

So, as opposed to when you oversaw the women's barracks, which was almost probably a twenty-four-hour job, was this a more typical Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00—

IB:

Yes.

BC:

—position?

IB:

Yes, it was.

BC:

So that most have afforded you some opportunities for travel?

IB:

Indeed, I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to have leave while I was there. And my mother and my sister came to visit while I was there. And we were able to travel. And my sister at that point, she was seventeen years younger than I was, so she was just a little girl. And she learned to swim in the Mediterranean, just out off the front of the house that I was able to rent there in Naples. And one of the fellows who works there took her out and taught her to swim. Pitched her out of a rowboat and she dogpaddles to this day just like she learned in the Bay of Naples out there. I remember watching her out there in the water thinking, “Oh, my God, I can't believe this.” But there she was, fishing—like a little fish over the rowboat.

BC:

What places did you visit?

IB:

Oh, my. I would do—I could do Rome in a weekend. I could go up there anytime at all that I wanted to. Golly. I went to Rota which at that time was a very new base in Spain. And, so, I got to see it from very early on. I visited [pause]

RL:

Morocco?

IB:

I went down to Morocco on one occasion. There was a planned facility there. I went to Sicily two or three times because a lot of ships putting in the Sixth Fleet which is—that's their area of responsibility. And that was one of the home ports for the Sixth Fleet. And our admiral would go down to discuss problems of the existing—or not problems but situations that existed that needed to be taken care of. And I was invited to go on several occasions. And it was always interesting and always fun. We did a lot of work but we always had time to play. When you are stationed with the aviators, that is one thing you can count on. They call it the—there are really two navies. I don't know if you are aware of this. There is the “Black Shoe Navy,” and they're the ones who go aboard ship. There's the “Brown Shoe Navy,” and they are the ones who fly. And I—everybody has a good time. The navy is a good life. But the Brown Shoes seemed to have a little bit lighter attitude. And I loved my tour with the aviators. I just loved it.

RL:

Vienna.

IB:

Oh, yes, I did. I went—I got an opportunity to go to Vienna, a lovely holiday there. What is the special event that was there? [speaking to RL]

RL:

Lipizzaners.

IB:

Oh, yes, I saw some Lipizzaner horses perform in their auditorium. We had a—I met a young woman who went on the same—I did not know her beforehand. She was the daughter of a warrant officer in Naples. And she and I became acquainted on the trip that we went on. And we went one night to the opera in Vienna. And at intermission she and I were seated in our seats talking to one another and, apparently, the gentleman behind us, a Viennese and his wife, overheard us. And I had said to my friend, “One of the things I really want to do is see the Lipizzaners, and I don't really know how to go about it.” And this gentleman leaned forward and he said, “I'm sorry to interrupt, but you are visiting our city, yes? I happen to be on the board of directors for the Lipizzaner—”

RL:

Spanish Riding School.

IB:

—Spanish Riding School. And he said, “It would be my pleasure if you would be my guests to go to the school and see a private performance.” Do you know that the next day at our hotel, he had a car, a driver, with a lap robe, the whole nine yards. Picked us up, took us to the Spanish Riding School, where there were—we were not the only people there, there were others, but all invited guests. You were not there as paying admission people. These were invited guests only. There are seats only at one end of the arena, and the rest of it, the show, is out here. And seats are only at one end so that you see the entire panorama of the show before you. And we had front-row seats at this performance, courtesy of this lovely gentleman and his wife, who overheard us talking about wanting to see the Lipizzaners. And I never felt more welcome nor more delighted at a performance of anything in my life. It was real treat.

BC:

How wonderful.

IB:

Yes.

BC:

Now, when you were traveling, did you have to be in uniform at all times or were you—

IB:

If I was traveling with the admiral, yes.

BC:

Okay, but not on your—

IB:

No.

BC:

—weekend trips?

IB:

No, when you went wherever—If I wanted to go to Rome, I just put on my blue jeans and my shirt and got in the car and went, yes, yes. I did have some fun over there at the time. I was driving a Thunderbird, and they were extraordinary cars. This was an early Thunderbird. I took it with me. You are allowed to take your own private vehicle when you go overseas. And I took it with me. I could pull up to the border crossings and the borders would stop all the traffic and pull the car, pull up and say, “Good afternoon, Madam. May I see your passport?” And they waved me through without—with just, “Here you go.” And it was because of this automobile. I never had such a—such royal treatment in all my life.

I had a place across the street from where I lived. Naples is a city of anomalies really. You don't find things like this anywhere else in the world, I think. You walk down 157 steps to get to my house, which was right down on the waterfront. Of course, you had to walk 157 steps to get back out. But across the street was a cave in the cliff. And that cave had been turned into a parking garage. And they had a—I'll call him a concierge for want of a better word. But he and two other guys ran the parking garage and you could rent a space from them for your car. They kept it shined, polished, and you paid a fee for a month. And you had your same parking space all the time. Whenever you came in you could get your car up the streets, because in Naples your car was in jeopardy on the streets from people who would do damage to it. So there was always an attendant in the cave. And it was nothing but a great big cave with marks on the floor where your parking spaces were. You knew where your space was. You went in and parked your car and it was about half a block and across the street from where we went down the steps to my house. So it was a charming, charming arrangement. Beautiful, beautiful. And it could be a movie set and people would still ooh and ah about it.

BC:

It sounds like a wonderful experience.

IB:

It was. It was delightful. And I will remember it to the end of my days.

BC:

When did you have to leave this paradise and return to the United States?

IB:

Well, I haven't got the dates clear in my mind. I left there and went back to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, where I worked in Officer Personnel Division processing the discharges for officers leaving naval service. And this—It covered the whole gamut. We processed any officer who was being discharged from the service. We would process their separation papers. And that would include if they had done something bad and gotten into trouble and were being discharged under less-than-perfect circumstances, we took those. We took the guys who had won Medal of Honor. We got to do them, too. We got to see a broad, broad spectrum of military people. Lots of times we didn't get to see them, we just did the paperwork. But many times if they were there in Washington they would come over and see us and say, “Hey, you're doing my discharge. Yes, well, can you help me get in three more—I got to be at school by such-and-such a deadline.” And we would try to work it a little faster and get it done for them so they could meet their deadlines and did things like that.

But it was a wonderful opportunity to hear the young officers discuss how their naval service had affected them. Some liked it a lot but had other dreams that they were going to pursue. Some had not liked it as well and said, “Oh, well, I'm just glad it's over. I want to get out and go home and start my life again.” Others—We even had a few who reconsidered and said, “Well, you know, now that it's so close I realize it was so good that maybe I really ought to see about staying in a little while longer.” And we had the full gamut, the whole gamut of emotions going through the office. And I liked it. I liked it very much.

BC:

Were you happy to be back in Washington or—

IB:

Well, yes, in a way, because I felt comfortable there. I had gotten to know the city in my previous tour. And I knew the neighborhoods where I would like to live. I still remembered some of the merchants in the Arlington area. Because BUPERS [Bureau of Naval Personnel] was directly across the street from the old barracks where I worked. So I was in the same exact area. Yes, it was all in close proximity. And we all looked out from a big hill down toward the Pentagon. So it was very familiar territory. And I went back to the same lady who did hems in my skirts and slacks and that sort of thing. It was just renewing old contacts.

BC:

So, this was probably, I would guess in the late '50s—

IB:

Yes.

BC:

—early '60s. Was [John Fitzgerald] Kennedy president at that time?

IB:

I was in Washington at the time of President Kennedy's assassination. I remember it vividly. I cannot tell you the date. But I remember it very vividly. I was in my office in BUPERS, yes, and the word came over our loudspeaker system that there has been a tragedy. And I remember tears coming to my eyes. I stood up and I had a—yes, it was when I was doing this job. And the girls in my office, I think, there were five or six young women who were working for me then, civilians. And we all gathered around and stood and listened teary-eyed as we heard the radio broadcast that they put on the speaker in our building about what had happened. All of us were very moved, very emotional. And I—not wanting to appear to be a crybaby—I walked out of the office and down the hall for a few minutes. And I saw an old friend, Jean Graratt, standing in her office looking out the window. And we stood and cried together [cries] at the great tragedy we were experiencing.

BC:

[pause] I'm sure that was a difficult moment no matter where you were, but to be in Washington in particular at that time.

IB:

Yes.

BC:

It must have been much more—

IB:

Well, all the trappings that went on being tangential to his death and funeral. We were all privy to that. And it was quite moving, quite personal. And I remember it vividly.

BC:

Was the navy involved in any way?

IB:

Well, all—whenever there is any kind of a—the death of a national figure, all military is involved in one way or another. I did not happen to be personally involved in President Kennedy's funeral. I happened—I did have participation in several other activities, but for his funeral I was not involved. But always there's a military presence when there are prominent national figures being either interred or honored.

RL:

Was it Ernie King?

IB:

I was—Well, I don't remember the date of—When Fleet Admiral [Ernest J.] King—yes, he was our only five-star admiral at the time—when Admiral Ernest King died. He was brought to Washington to be laid to rest at Arlington [National Cemetery]. And I was in charge of the women's detail for that processional down Pennsylvania Avenue and for the burial at Arlington. I participated in several of those. All of the names of which I can't remember. I also was a participant in the interment of the second Unknown Soldier at Arlington.

BC:

Oh, wow.

IB:

It was a very moving ceremony and one in which the Department of Defense did themselves proud, I thought. They made contact with all the living Medal of Honor winners that they could locate and brought them at government expense to Washington to be present for the interment for the second Unknown. And it was a ceremony that was exceedingly beautiful, exceedingly moving. And I was so proud to be part of it. Each military service had a men's contingent and then the women had a composite contingent of probably twenty, I'd say, from each, [U.S.] Army, [U.S.] Navy, [U.S.] Air Force, Marines. And I was privileged to be the company commander if you will of that group. And it was exciting, and it was very, very rewarding.

BC:

It sounds like a very memorable event—

IB:

It was.

BC:

—to be able to participate in.

IB:

Yes. I remember it vividly.

[End Tape 1, Side A—Begin Tape 1, Side B]

BC:

And back in Washington with the Bureau of Naval Personnel, did you have anything you wanted to add to that? We had just talked about when President Kennedy was assassinated, the fall of 1963. Were you in Washington much longer after that?

IB:

I was three years on my tour at the Bureau of Naval Personnel. And then I was, in my view, again rewarded. I had some wonderful duty stations, but on this occasion, the officer detailer, woman officer detailer, sent me to the Naval Air Development Center in Johnsville, Pennsylvania, about forty miles north of Philadelphia in Bucks County. I did not even know that such a duty station existed. It's very little known. It's primarily composed of civilian engineers and people who develop improvements for naval aircraft. We had one of every type plane the navy flies, including at one point the space capsule was brought up there just to have these guys look it over and see what they could do to it, and the plane that opened up from the bowel and to put huge great, huge capsules and things into. We had everything come in there, whether or not we owned them or not. But we had one of every type routine plane the navy flew and an aviator who could fly it.

And these civilian scientists in main worked on improvements: new improvements to radar, to the electronics, to the communications. And it was absolutely fascinating, because I had the run of the place and I got to know the fellows and their officers and they would say, “Hey, we're working on something really interesting. Come back and see what we're doing.” And it was a joy to watch those people try to develop new things that would keep our aviators safer, more comfortable, and enhance our ability to do our job.

BC:

Did you get to fly in any of these planes?

IB:

Oh, yes. You could go—whenever a guy was going up—aviators have the requirement, you know, to get a certain number of hours of flight time each month or each quarter, I guess. I don't know how it is now, but at that time I think it was monthly. And so the guys, whether they had an assignment to pursue, they had to get in the air just to keep their skills. They would call us say, “Hey, you want to go bore holes this afternoon?” And we would go over and catch one—take one of the planes up and just—and fly around and look over the countryside and have some fun and kick back and relax and joke and laugh and look at the view. But I enjoyed it very, very much. It was a very sociable group. We had lots of parties, lots of gathers, and everybody worked so closely together. It was like a—really like a big, huge family.

BC:

Well, what type of work were you doing there?

IB:

I was the—well, let's see. I was the personnel and administration officer. That was my field essentially. I also did get to go back into the working parts of our development there. And I rode the centrifuge, the same one that the space pilots trained on, the centrifuge. I got to qualify—where your face blows all back and gets all out of shape. And also put on all the aviation gear and you get dumped into a big pond. They call it the Dilbert Dumpster, Dilbert Dunker, something like that. And all naval aviators have to—you get dunked in there and you have to learn to get out of your gear to surface to the water. And I got to do that. I tell you I was scared to death because I'm not a swimmer. Don't like it.

BC:

How terrifying.

IB:

Yes. But I wanted to do it because the opportunity was there. So here you went. They flip you over. It was just like coming out of the cockpit of an airplane, and they open it up and dump you out into this pond. And you get out of your parachute and your gear to get to the surface. And I was able to do those things. And it was the only place in the country where I could have been able to try to do such a thing.

BC:

And were you there for three years—

IB:

Yes.

BC:

—as well?

IB:

It was—

BC:

That was the typical length of your—

IB:

That's right.

BC:

—tours? Three years?

IB:

Essentially. They were basically three-year tours unless they were shortened because you were in school or something of that nature. But I lived over in Bucks County, had a lovely apartment in a big, old—a lady had converted her barn into three apartments. And I had one of them. And I was just—lived in New Hope, Pennsylvania, which is a charming, charming little community and drove about, oh, I don't know, about fifteen miles to work. And it was idyllic, absolutely idyllic, and I loved my three years there very, very much.

BC:

And were aviators at that time only men or was—

IB:

At that time, yes. All men, yes.

BC:

And then any other women that would have been there would have been in some type of administration?

IB:

We had no other women officers. I was the only one, yes. We did have a nurse. Now, don't mishear me. I—The nurses are—they're just—they're separate, apart from us. We did have nurses on the staff, but they worked just in the dispensary area, took care of everybody. But I was the only naval line officer on the station.

BC:

And where did you go next?

IB:

From the Air Development Center it was back to Women Officer School. And this time I went back not to march in the morning with my wet hair, but I went back to be the academic director and the leadership instructor at the school. And it was just kind of a trip back to old times. You know, the school hadn't changed that much. It was still in the same location. We had gotten some improved facilities. Our quotas had increased. We had slightly larger numbers. And I loved it. I loved working with the young women who were coming in from civilian life and trying to help them learn what it's like to be a part of the navy and live in a community-type lifestyle. And eat in the officer's mess. It was grand. I enjoyed it very, very much. I think I managed to bring in some good ideas that generated from my past experience and ways that we could change and improve. And I liked it very, very much. I love Newport as a matter of fact. So it was good to go back.

BC:

What types of changes had you seen in those more than ten years since you had been there, and what kind of changes did you institute?

IB:

Well—

BC:

—or suggest?

IB:

Yes, you kind of strung me out here. I'm not sure that I can remember specifics, because what you are trying to do is every day find things that need to be tuned, fine-tuned, or given more time allotted, a little more time to things. Well, we didn't quite get enough time on this area of instruction. But we worked on things such as that. And to be sure that we were letting every woman who got through the school feel competent to go out and do whatever job she was assigned. Because you don't know where you are going when you leave there. You can be sent to into any area that—where women are assigned. And we tried our best to have them feel comfortable and secure in whatever environment they would go to.

BC:

So, it wasn't necessarily changes in the types of instruction or the program itself but simply—

IB:

It was confidence building.

BC:

—trying to improve whatever was already in place?

IB:

In the area of leadership. Yes, it was confidence building and trying to—and all of us did—everybody at the school. That was a common goal was to make those—help those young women be as effective as they could be. And we enabled a little bit more mingling with the women and the men getting to know the people with whom they would work later on in their careers.

BC:

And what was that kind of interaction like at that time?

IB:

Good, good. [pause] Everybody was working for a common goal. [pause] I'm not—I can't put words on exactly how it is. But it was a state of cooperation, I guess, is the best as I can put it.

BC:

Right. And this was into the sixties here. And the United States is becoming more involved in the conflict in Vietnam. Did that have an impact on your service and your duty stations?

IB:

Other than the fact that we were in combat, it did not affect a great deal what I actually did, no. When you know that others are in danger and risking their lives, it gives you an added incentive to be and do as well as you can. But it didn't change anything that I remember directly in my own approach to things.

BC:

How did people feel about the war? Do you recall what the mood was at the time in the service?

IB:

Well, in the service, the people who I remember—and you always feel that if there is a war—nobody wants a war—but if there is one, be the best you can be. Do your best, work your hardest, and your longest. And I think that's what everybody was trying to do. We did work long hours, particularly those people—Now, I was not in communications at the time, but I do remember that people were going—they were working twelve on and twelve off, because of the amount of message traffic that was going back and forth. And it was necessary that they be there. So everybody did whatever they could in their sphere of influence to make things more workable and feasible.

BC:

And when you finished up in Rhode Island for the second time, where did you go?

IB:

Oh, hey, back to the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

BC:

They had a habit of bringing you back to former duty stations.

IB:

Well, [laughs], I don't know. I guess you would have to call me kind of a bureaucrat. [laughs] But BUPERS was a—I was primarily—Personnel and administration was my field. And I liked it. And I liked to think that I did it reasonably well. I was sent back at that point to be the [pause] director of the schools. The Bureau Naval Personnel director for the Women Officers School, and, once again, it's just a case of making the school work, keeping it—meeting all the people's needs, meeting the navy's needs, insuring that the curriculum, curricular are updated and kept current, that we are using all the latest and newest manuals that are out, that sort of thing. For people who are going into communications, we had to be sure that we had the preliminary information for them, not the details but just preliminary what you will be working with, because we sent them to all kinds of duty stations. And we just tried to make them as well—prepared for their next—their first step as we could.

BC:

And who were you training here? Was this officers?

IB:

Yes, women officers.

BC:

And was it women only?

IB:

No, I also had the—I was the program officer for the school's command. And that included the men who were at—also training in Newport, male officers. And we reviewed their curriculum and insured that they were current, up-to-date, that they were teaching them what the current shipboard practices were. We had a kind of liaison, because most of the men were going to be going to sea. The women not so much. But we—The office where I worked, we did the coordination for both. And it was good. I liked it.

BC:

Were women allowed to go to sea?

IB:

Not at that point. We still weren't—We still weren't aboard ship, no.

BC:

Do you know when that happened?

IB:

Oh, gosh, it was after I retired.

BC:

Okay.

IB:

We did not have any.

BC:

Some time beyond the early 1970s?

IB:

Yes. I'm the old school.

BC:

So, this brought you back to Washington one more time, in about the late 1960s. Was there a different feel to the city?

IB:

No, Washington seems to have—it marches at its own pace. And I did not notice a great change in the city. There were some physical changes. Some of the old buildings had gone away. At one point I noticed Quarters K was no longer there on the hillside. It had been razed and new quarters provided for women, or they were given the money to let out on the local economy. But at that point I was no longer involved with the program, and it was nice to see that lovely swath of grass there were those great buildings had once stood. It's prettier.

BC:

Were you affected at all by any of the protests taking place either against the war in Vietnam or related to the civil rights movement?

IB:

No, not directly. I was affected emotionally as I think most Americans were. You could see what's happening. And I personally was rueful that there were those who were not in support of what our country was doing. I'm afraid—I'm almost one of those, almost one of those, my country right or wrong. And in the military you are expected to have that attitude. And I did. I believed that we were doing what the power structure thought we should be doing and we should be supporting it because a divided country is subject to severe consequences. So I did not notice a great change. My own attitude did not change. And I think perhaps my attitude has changed more since I got out of the service than when I was part of the service. But that's another story.

BC:

How did you feel about President [Lyndon B.] Johnson?

IB:

Oh, I liked him fine. I thought President Johnson was a good old boy. [laughs] He—I think he will be remembered as a good and successful president. I can't seem to allow favorites. I don't have favorites, because [in] my military mind I knew that I was subject to whatever they told me to do. And it didn't make any difference who was it saying it. That was my job. And that was exactly how I felt about it. And if they had said, you know, “Go out and hoe potatoes for a day or two,” I would have done that. That would have been my job.

BC:

Did you ever encounter him or any other prominent people during your time in Washington?

IB:

Oh, my. I met some often wonderful people. I don't know that I knew notables. I personally and very taken by the fact that—a woman whom I admire very, very much, Major General Jeanne Holm, retired air force, was my next door neighbor in Naples when she was a major. So we were kind of running mates as young people. I knew her, and I was very, very proud of the accomplishments and the developments that she went on to engendered through the air force and the new policies that she brought about. I was very proud to have known her and to have been able to have learned and profited from her many years of experience and good leadership. She was, and is, a very fine woman, and I admire her very much.

BC:

Was this your final duty station, Washington?

IB:

After BUPERS I went on to the Recruiting Command. I had one more duty there. But that was just a kind of move-down-the-street. I went from BUPERS over to what they call Crystal City, which is in South Arlington. And I was in charge of the recruiting program for the navy. It was when Admiral Elmo Zumwalt had come into Washington and was taking steps to, oh, revitalize the navy, and there were a lot of changes that were made. And recruiting was one. That's when we—recruiting was made a sep—recruiting had always been part of the Bureau of Naval Personnel. It was just a division. And he separated it out as a separate command: U.S. Navy Recruiting Command. And I was sent there to be administrator in charge of personnel. Now that was in personnel for the command, not for recruiting stations around the country. But we had a division there that did the recruiting stations. But I was for the central headquarters. And I liked it. I felt it was a very worth job, needed doing. It was an important job. And very much in line with what I had been doing. I was an admin-personnel type, and that's what I did. I knew how to do it, and I thought I did a good job of it. Which led me to my after-the-navy career as a matter of fact.

BC:

Okay. Well, let's talk about that for a little bit. When did you retire from the navy?

IB:

Oh, well, let's see. When did I retire? I retired on [searches through papers] 1 March [hums] oh, dear, 1973, yes. March of '73. And—

BC:

Was that a difficult decision for you, to retire?

IB:

Actually, there's not a yes or no answer. I was ready to retire. I was sorry to leave. I had had a strenuous tour at the Recruiting Command. We did ten to twelve hours daily. And that made long, hard days. I was tired. And I felt that it was time for me to leave and look for something else. And I did so. I had thought about going to another job. But the admiral for whom I worked said, “Well, no, I want you to stay here.” And I realized in my heart of hearts that I really could not take another year of the duty that I was going through, and so I put in my retirement papers. And I'm glad I did. It came at a good time. I retired and decided I would just take a year off and enjoy life.

Well, shortly after I retired I was in Arlington and living there in the same house where I had been. Lived next door to [William] “Fishbait” Miller, who was the doorkeeper of the House of Representatives. Remember, “Mr. President” [imitating the person]. Fishbait and Mabel Miller were my next-door neighbors. And that was a joy having Fishbait next to—he took my mother on a trip to Congress, and he took her through. And I think she saw the men's room, the water fountains, the back of the dining room, the front hall, entrance where the big shots come in. He did his “Mr. President” bit. It was something wonderful. He was a lovely man. And everybody who knew Fishbait Miller loved him universally. But I stayed there in that house.

And one day a letter came from my boss who had retired from the job where we had been in Naples together. And he said, “I saw in the newsletter from BUPERS that you had retired. I'm wondering if you are looking for work.” And I said, well—I called him. I called him in response to his letter. I said, “Hey, Ger,” Gerry Brummit—he was the commander when I worked for him. He lives here in Coronado, [California]. And I said, “I hadn't given much thought to what I was going to do.”

He said, “Well, I started a new business. I've retired, and I've started a new business in management consulting.” And he said, “I think you would fit right in with your background of admin personnel. I've got room for another facilitator.”

And I said, “Well, I've never been to San Diego. I don't know what you're doing.”

He said, “Well, come on out. I'll pay your way and you can stay with Gwen and me for a couple of weeks.”

So, I came out here, spent a couple of weeks out here. Fell in love with the city. Found that the job—it was very, very similar to what I had been doing. Going from—when you would go to the admiral staff, down to inspect your facilities that are under your purview, I would be doing pretty much the same thing. And correct—giving them ideas of how to implement improvements in what they're doing, or how to streamline their work situation. And he was doing primarily military installations, getting them ready for admin inspections, crazily enough. So I came out here and—after my year off, which I took and enjoyed—came out here and joined him in his business called Cybernetics. And worked for him about three years, didn't I? Two years. And I liked it, but I decided I'd just rather not work any more. And I was financially positioned so that I didn't have to. So that ended my working career. And I'm just retired and enjoyed life in San Diego.

BC:

Sounds like a good idea. What changes did you see in the navy over the course of your career?

IB:

I suppose I would have to say acceptance of the job that women are capable of doing became very apparent. I think, now I have the feeling from where I sit that women are just an integral part of the service now. It wasn't always so. When we renewed you were pushing a wedge, pushing a wedge, and pushing against the tide. And now I think it's a common occurrence. They're expected and respected. And I think a lot of that is a tribute to the women who were here early on and who demonstrated that they were capable and could do what needed doing.

BC:

How do you feel about women in combat positions? As time's passed, women have had more opportunities in the service and being in actual combat positions is one of them. How do you feel about that?

IB:

I think it's—I think it's a way that the women are proving that their value covers a wide spectrum. We're not capable of just moving down a certain path or down a certain corridor. I think it's good. I think there are parameters which have to be [pause] considered. A woman with children is not the same in my eye as a single woman who is in charge of her own life and destiny. And there are distinguishing factors there which need to be considered. And I think that's—I guess that's the biggest drawback I see for a woman. And that can be—that can certainly be overcome. If the husband is home to be daddy, well, then that's fine, but a mother is a caregiver and once she takes on that job, that's kind of an overriding consideration to me.

BC:

Would you recommend the service to young women today?

IB:

I would, indeed, if they want a challenging, hard-working environment where they can meet new, interesting, nice people and meet a challenge every day. There is something out there that needs doing. And the opportunity to do that is right in front of you. You can just open the door and walk through.

BC:

Well, Ms. Brooks, I don't have any more formal questions for you today. It's been a wonderful interview. I've really enjoyed speaking with you. Is there anything that you would like to add that we didn't cover, that I didn't ask about?

IB:

I haven't got a point to make or a position to take. I would simply like to stress that I believe that women have made a terrific impact and a great contribution to this marvelous country that we enjoy. It's part of all of us. And all of us have to take a responsibility for seeing that we stay on the right path. Follow the truth. Follow your heart. Believe in what you're doing and do it to the best of your ability. And when we do that, things almost always have a positive outcome. And I look back on my naval career as the most positive thing I have done or could have done with my life. It encompassed the benefits of teacher, of leader, of even a mother figure in many cases for the young women at the barracks who were homesick and lonesome. You felt all the emotions that you can feel dealing with people from every, every possible walk of life. And I would not trade the opportunities that I've had for anything else in the world. And if I could start again, I would do it all over. I'd go right back to that U.S. Navy recruiter and say, “Hey, take me.”

BC:

Well, on behalf of the university, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

IB:

It's my pleasure. Thank you for including me.

[End of Interview]