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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Adelaide Murphy

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Object ID: WV0240.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Adelaide Cotter Murphy’s service in the Women Marines from 1943 to 1945.

Summary:

Murphy gives a brief overview of her childhood, including her early education. She recalls the attack on Pearl Harbor, her brothers’ service in the military, and her reasons for enlisting in the Women Marines as opposed to other branches of service. Of her basic training at Hunter College in New York, she mentions an Easter celebration; barracks life; physical training; and specialized class work. She then talks about being sent to Atlanta, Georgia, for Link Instrument Training Instructors School. She discusses her work at Cherry Point, North Carolina, as a Link Trainer instructor, including activities of the typical workday; working with Link Trainers; training pilots; and passing on Officer Candidate School. She also describes being transferred to Bogue, North Carolina, an outlying post of Cherry Point. Topics from her time there include: being one of the first women on the base; being in charge of five women; social activities; and her duties as a supervisor. Of her time stationed at Naval Air Station Vero Beach, Florida, she mentions: working with specialized Link Trainers; higher-ups visiting the station to see the Links; D-Day celebrations and changes; day-to-day activities; the death of President Roosevelt; meeting and marrying her husband, Julian; celebrating VE Day and VJ Day; and her social life.

Murphy discusses staying at Vero Beach after her discharge, waiting for her husband to leave the service; moving to Asheville, North Carolina, where she attended business school before becoming pregnant; and her family’s move to Greensboro, North Carolina, shortly after the birth of her first child. Other topics include staying in touch with friends from her service days; advice for women considering enlisting; and the largest misconceptions about military service.

Creator: Adelaide Proctor Cotter Murphy

Biographical Info: Adelaide Cotter Murphy (1921-2005) of Boston, Massachusetts, served in the Woman Marines as a pilot Link trainer from 1943 to 1945.

Collection: Adelaide Murphy 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:

EE:

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

AM:

I was born and bred in Boston, Massachusetts, until I joined the Marines.

EE:

Did you ever travel much outside of Massachusetts area when you were growing up?

AM:

Yes. I had been on a cruise to Cuba and Spain. That's about it.

EE:

That's pretty good, though.

AM:

The Bahamas.

EE:

Right. Tell me about your folks. What did they do?

AM:

My mother, before she was married, was a schoolteacher. She was from Providence, Rhode Island. My father was from Connecticut and he was in the automotive supply business.

EE:

Okay. How about brothers and sisters?

AM:

Both of my brothers graduated from Brown University, and after graduation one of them joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Then the other one, after graduation, went into the navy, and was a pilot.

EE:

So they were both older than you?

AM:

Yes.

EE:

Where did you graduate from high school, by the way?

AM:

I graduated from Notre Dame Academy.

EE:

Was that eleven years or twelve years, back in—what year did you graduate from school?

AM:

Oh, gosh. I've forgotten.

EE:

In '36, '37—I'm older than that. Then, '37?

AM:

Around that, because I spent two years at Girls Latin School, and finished the rest of my high school at Notre Dame. That would have been '38 or '39, something like that.

EE:

Okay. Were you somebody who liked school?

AM:

Yes.

EE:

Did you have a favorite subject?

AM:

Favorite subject—I guess English.

EE:

Did you know—sometime in high school, did you have an inkling about what it is you wanted to be when you grew up?

AM:

A teacher. That's when I went to Lesley College, and that's a teacher-training college.

EE:

Which is right nearby there.

AM:

In Cambridge, yes.

EE:

So I guess your mom was an influence on you there.

AM:

Yes.

EE:

Had your dad been in the service?

AM:

No, he wasn't. He was married and he had children during the First World War.

EE:

Right. You were at Lesley for two years, and while you were there, Pearl Harbor happened. Do you remember Pearl Harbor day?

AM:

Oh, definitely.

EE:

Tell me about that. Where were you and how did you hear about it?

AM:

I was at home in my bedroom, at my desk studying on Sunday afternoon when I heard it on the radio.

EE:

What was the mood like in your house?

AM:

It was shocking.

EE:

Did your brothers already join the service?

AM:

No. But as soon as they graduated from college they did.

EE:

You finished those two years at Lesley in the spring of '42, I guess. Were you living at home when you were going to Lesley?

AM:

I was living at home.

EE:

Right.

AM:

I was teaching at Choate school [Choate Rosemary Hall] in Brookline when I decided to leave and go into the Marines. So that would have been '42.

EE:

You were telling me before we got started that you did not originally join the Marines. Tell me what you originally joined, and why.

AM:

I waited. I did not want to go in the WACs [Women's Army Corps]. I did not want to go in the WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service—U.S. Navy], and I didn't think the Marine Corps was ever going to come out with women again. Of course, they had women in World War I, but they were the last ones to come out with women. So I decided to join the SPARs [from “Semper Paratus, Always Ready”], the Coast Guard. I think it was less than two weeks after I had signed up that the Marines announced that they were going to have women, Women's Reserve. And it was interesting. President [Franklin] Roosevelt, FDR, delayed it. He wanted the women going into the Marines to be called Marines, and not by a fictitious name.

EE:

What did your folks feel about you joining the service?

AM:

They encouraged it if that was what I wanted.

EE:

But you had to be a certain age. Did they have to sign for you to join the Marines?

AM:

What age was I? I was born in '21.

EE:

So you just turned twenty-one that year.

AM:

Yes.

EE:

Now, what about your brothers? Were they in service by that time, '42?

AM:

Yes, they were both in.

EE:

So how did big brothers feel about their sister joining the service?

AM:

Well, they were kind of proud that they had—

EE:

That there were three stars at home, your folks' home.

AM:

Yes, they sure did.

EE:

Did any of your other friends that you had in that area, any of your other girlfriends, join the service?

AM:

No. Most of my girlfriends were either married, with their husbands in the service, or they just weren't interested in going into the service. So it was my decision. Nobody talked me into it.

EE:

When you signed up, did they have you—you told me you were the eleventh on the list.

AM:

I was told that I was.

EE:

In the first group who joined in Massachusetts.

AM:

Right.

EE:

Did they have a sense of the kinds of work that you all could do? Did they give you a choice of, “What would you like to do in the service?”

AM:

Oh, yes.

EE:

What did you tell them?

AM:

I told them that I was interested in working in aviation. I think I was influenced by both of my brothers, because they were both pilots.

EE:

Had you ever gone up in a plane with them?

AM:

No.

EE:

But it was an exciting thing to be around in those times there. When you joined, the Marines did not have a separate training facility as of yet, so you ended up taking basic at a place called Hunter College in the Bronx, New York. Tell me about your Hunter experience.

AM:

We had thorough training in several different fields, but it wasn't a typical boot camp. The only time we were allowed to leave the boot camp at the college was on Easter Sunday. We could go in, in a group, to New York City, and we were allowed to go to whatever church we belonged to. But we had to march in the Easter parade, and stay together as a group, WAVES and Marines.

EE:

Were most of your instructors men or women at basic?

AM:

There were very few Marine officers, and I think almost all of them, of the original ones, had been in the [U.S.] Navy, and were [U.S.] Navy officers. And they came over to—

EE:

So they'd taken women naval officers and made them Marine officers.

AM:

Marine, yes.

EE:

At the beginning. With everybody starting from scratch, you've got to have—people have to be made something, in a sense, those supervisor positions. What was the most difficult thing about basic training for you? You weren't used to sharing a room with forty people or whatever the amount was. How many were in your accommodations?

AM:

I think we had about eight girls to a room, because we had double-decker bunks. It was different, because I had never been away to live before that time. But it was challenging and pleasant.

EE:

Was the physical stuff difficult for you?

AM:

No. But we didn't have a great deal of physical exercise, because of the location of Hunter College, for one thing.

EE:

Right.

AM:

But there was a field, and we used to have to go every morning for exercises.

EE:

So a lot of drill, but not beyond that a lot. How long were you there? About two months altogether?

AM:

Wait a minute. Let me see when I went to Atlanta. I haven't got it down. I think I was only at boot camp for what was less than two months.

EE:

At boot camp did they—

AM:

And I had to take studies in radio and a lot of mechanical testing.

EE:

I was going to say, did you take those kind of tests there at Hunter?

AM:

Yes. We studied and then took the tests there. That's when, believe it or not, I showed up to be mechanically adept, and my radio voice was a lot better than it is today. There were certain qualifications that allowed me to go to Link training school.

EE:

Had they mentioned that as an option beforehand, or was that something you had learned about simply by going to that—you had never heard of Link training before going into the service?

AM:

No.

EE:

Right. That's a simulator for training pilots in navigation, I guess.

AM:

It trains them for blind flying. It's a simulator and they have different kinds of Links. I eventually got into radar Links and more complicated trainers.

EE:

You were telling me that after your time at Hunter you went down to Atlanta.

AM:

That was a naval base.

EE:

At the naval base. That was for your specialty training in the Link. Was that just women being trained to do that, or were there men and women instructors?

AM:

No. There were—oh, there were men and women instructors, but it was just for women, because we eventually replaced men so they could go to fight.

EE:

That was one of the phrases that they used a lot in advertising at that time, was to free a man to fight. Was that one of the reasons that you decided to join the service, as opposed to collecting scrap and planting a victory garden, that kind of thing?

AM:

Yes. Yes.

EE:

You thought you could do more than that, then.

AM:

Right.

EE:

Some of the women, I guess, who are related to the men who were freed to fight, did not always look too kindly on those who were in service. Did you ever get any static from anybody outside of the service about being in the women's reserve?

AM:

No. I can't remember any.

EE:

You were in Atlanta for how long before you went to Cherry Point?

AM:

Let's see.

EE:

Not as long as you were at Hunter, or longer?

AM:

Oh, it was longer than when I was at Hunter. It had to be about two months.

EE:

Two months. And then after you had this LITIS [Link Instrument Training Instructors School] training, you went to Cherry Point, North Carolina. Tell me what Cherry Point looked like in 1943. You probably never heard of it before you got there.

AM:

No. I had never been to North Carolina. It was out in the boondocks, but not as much as Bogue [North Carolina] was. Of course, it is a big, big base now. But it was big back then.

EE:

Let's see. How many women were down there when you were there?

AM:

Oh, when I was there they had Women Marines, probably eighty to a hundred, and three times that many—let's see. No, it was Cherry Point. I'm mixed up. I would say there was less than a hundred, though.

EE:

Okay. Describe if you could for us just a typical day of being a Link Trainer. What's your schedule like? When do you get up? What do you do during the day?

AM:

Well, we used to muster and march. We'd have to hit the deck at four a.m., and we had calisthenics. At first we had men instructors, and they were typical Marine platoon people, like they gave us exercises that later on had to be stopped, because they would—I'll never forget one drill instructor. He'd get up and he'd say, “Beat them guts.” Well, that isn't good for a woman's structure. So they had to change the exercise program for women. But we would drill, and then we would go to work by about eight.

EE:

The instruction is a combination of—you're part classroom teacher and part 101 instructor with the pilot, or how does the instruction process go for a Link training?

AM:

Well, we got a lot of that at LITIS.

EE:

But your job is simply to work with a machine, with the pilots, and test speed skills?

AM:

Well, we had to know how to set the trainer up properly, and we had to maintain the trainer mechanically. And, of course, every pilot, military or with the airlines, many, many years that was part of their job, to take so many hours a month in a Link trainer. We mapped out a program of the flight that the trainer would be taking, just like a plane in the air would take.

We would record this on a FROG [block cipher] that was on our desks, and we had to log them all in and these were sent to their commanding officers, I guess, to see how they did. But you regulate the height of the trainer, just like you would regulate the height of—with the instruments—of an airplane, and you go into battle and shoot your guns. We could tell them when they were going in a wrong direction, I'll say, or didn't have the right altitude, et cetera.

EE:

You know, listening to you describe the details, it sounds—nowadays my son's video games are very—they basically are replicating what it is like to fly. This was before—was there much of what we would call computers involved in the machinery, or was it more mechanical than electronic?

AM:

It was both, but I think it was more mechanical. A lot of pilots had a hard time getting their trainer adjusted. They said it was easier when you did it in an airplane.

EE:

So the feel wasn't exactly one to one. The pilots would tell you that the trainer didn't quite simulate the flying experience.

AM:

And usually they hadn't started out right.

EE:

If you start at eight o'clock, are you working with the same pilot all day long, or [does it] take an hour for the pilot to do the test and then the next pilot comes?

AM:

They had to take so many hours per month in a Link, and it was broken into several sessions.

EE:

So, when you're at Cherry Point, you're there—

AM:

But I might have had four, five, or six different people—

EE:

Coming in that day.

AM:

—coming in, in a day's time. Yes.

EE:

So everybody who was assigned to regular duty at Cherry Point, to be stationed there to fly out to do coast patrols or whatever they were doing, would come back in on a regular basis to get this, and that's why they had to—how many Link trainer personnel like you, how many women were in that job? Were all eighty of these women at Cherry Point Link Trainers, or were they doing other work?

AM:

Oh, no. No, no.

EE:

So altogether, about how many operators were there?

AM:

About ten, I think, to begin with.

EE:

Okay. Did that number go up during the war?

AM:

Yes. And we had to schedule. For example, when I was sent to Bogue, I was in charge of the Link department. We had shifts, because the planes were going up night and day, in training. So we had to be available, sometimes in the day and sometimes at night.

EE:

I was going to ask you. So it's not a nine-to-five job?

AM:

No.

EE:

Because the pilots are on wartime hours, you all have to have been, too. Is it a seven-day work week, or do you get a Sunday or a weekend off?

AM:

It was a seven-day work week. Yes. We also had women in the control—what do you call it—the control tower down at Bogue. And they trained up at Cherry Point, again.

EE:

When you first started this work, I guess they were not actively using radar like they were later in the war.

AM:

No. We went into radar Links down in NAS [Naval Air Station] Vero Beach [Florida].

EE:

Okay.

AM:

And we had some training in the low-pressure chamber and different things pertaining to aviation.

EE:

So did you ever test pilots in any of these other devices, or did you pretty much stay just with the Link trainers?

AM:

I stayed with Links, mainly.

EE:

You were telling me before we got started that you were offered the chance to go to OCS [Officer Candidate School], but liked Link training so much you didn't want to jeopardize being out of it.

AM:

Well, it wasn't that. It was just that if I went to OCS, they could not assure me that I could get back into Link when I passed and, you know, became an officer. So I said, “Well, I'll just stick with it.”

EE:

I've talked with some people, and maybe you can tell me if this was just big talk, but several people have told me that they preferred being enlisted to officers, because enlisted folks had the more interesting jobs. Officers were too much into personnel matters.

AM:

Really?

EE:

Yes.

AM:

I didn't want to have a job sitting behind a desk, recruiting or something like that. I liked what I was doing, and I knew that it was a necessity.

EE:

You were at Cherry for how long, and then moved to Bogue?

AM:

Cherry Point—

EE:

You must have gotten to Cherry Point sometime around the late summer or fall of '43, if you were in Hunter on Easter Sunday.

AM:

Yes.

EE:

Were you in—

AM:

I was there, oh, several months.

EE:

Okay. Bogue is a satellite, I guess, of Cherry Point.

AM:

Bogue is an outlying field of Cherry Point, yes.

EE:

If Cherry Point was the boondocks, Bogue is beyond the boon. [Laughs]

AM:

It was the boondocks. It was right on Bogue Sound. It was right by the water. It's located between Swansboro and Atlantic Beach.

EE:

Okay. Housing-wise, did you stay—did they have their own separate housing down there? Did you have to physically move, or were you just basically doing a long commute?

AM:

Well, let me tell you something funny. I went to Bogue from Cherry Point, in charge of five other women. We were the first ones on Bogue, at that base, and the men definitely were not prepared for us. And one night when we were first there—and I guess we had been there maybe a week—about three o'clock in the morning a male Marine came into the dorm that we had taken over, because he had been on leave. He didn't know the women were there. [EE laughs.] And he went to get in his bunk. It was funny.

EE:

They've changed the whole service on him while he's gone. I could imagine that you all turned heads for several of those folks.

AM:

Oh, yes.

EE:

[They'd] only heard tales of Women Marines, but never actually seen them in the flesh till you got there.

AM:

It was funny.

EE:

Now, you were in charge of five women at Bogue. Were you all doing Link training for those people who were flying out of Bogue? Is that what it was?

AM:

Oh, yes. There were three squadrons down there when I went there: SPDs and SP2-Cs and F-6Fs. We worked with all the squadrons that were there.

EE:

That's not, I guess, around the corner at—what was the beach that was so destroyed in Hurricane Fran? There was a missile testing—

AM:

That was Oak Island. No, it's not. That's near Long Beach.

EE:

Right. Oak Island is down in Pender County, is what I'm thinking of. It'll come to me in a minute. But all along there, there's flying facilities. There's Camp Davis, which is not too far down the coast, where I remember WASP [Women Airforce Service Pilots] were towing planes in. There's a whole lot of traffic in the air on the North Carolina coast. I know there were German subs that were patrolling not too far offshore. What were the day-to-day conditions like? Was it blackout conditions for you all?

AM:

To a degree, but it wasn't—we weren't scared of anything.

EE:

Okay. Were most of the women that you were serving with just as fresh a recruit as you were, at twenty-one, or were a fair number of women older?

AM:

There were, that I knew of, very few that were much older, but there were some.

EE:

Okay. How long were you at Bogue before you went to Vero Beach?

AM:

Quite a while. I'll bet it was—

EE:

So, were you at Bogue during when D-Day happened?

AM:

No. I was in Vero Beach on D-Day.

EE:

So that would have been sometime before June of '40, '41.

AM:

Yes.

[Telephone rings.]

AM:

I have an answering machine.

EE:

You were in charge of people at Bogue. I assume that made you get a promotion. Did it?

AM:

Yes. When I was at Bogue I was a—what was I then? I was a sergeant back then.

EE:

What was the responsibility of being a supervisor like?

AM:

Well, I had to make sure that they knew all the restrictions on the base, the girls did. There were a few other Marine women there, but they weren't in Link. They were in the control tower, and a few in administration.

EE:

Amid the restrictions, I've had not a few people tell me about social life. What was social life down at Duck [Creek?]? There's not a lot going on in Bogue Field, but I imagine if you had gone into Jacksonville [unclear] or someplace, there must be some social life going on.

AM:

Oh, yes. But we had—this is funny. We had on the base what they called a slop chute. That was where you could go when you weren't working, if you wanted to have a beer after you got off of work, or something like that. Then there was an NCO [non-commissioned officers] club on the base, and, of course, an officers club. But we were not supposed to mingle with the officers.

EE:

Did the women sort of pal around together, or was everybody sort of breaking off and doing their own social thing?

AM:

Well, we got to go into town. In Swansboro they had a club for the military, and we had chances to go into Atlantic Beach and go in the area. We had time off.

EE:

Did anybody have a car, or did you have to—

AM:

Now, you were not allowed to have your own car, but I had a license to drive a jeep. But I couldn't take that on liberty. That was just for use in the—

EE:

To go between the far hinterland and back to the [unclear]. [laughs]

AM:

It was, to the Link room and all that. It was pretty rough living, actually, but very friendly.

EE:

Did you ever get a chance to go home, back to Boston, during your time in service, or were you pretty much stuck down at the place?

AM:

I had a liberty one time that I went back to Boston, and I had to take a train. It was so crowded I had to stand between the cars, and I swore I'd never do it again.

EE:

Are you learning to fly? Have you gotten a chance to fly while you're down there with these folks?

AM:

I had a couple of opportunities to get behind the flying, but that was just up and down the coast, and I have never applied for a license or anything. No.

EE:

But you did get to go up in a plane, after teaching everybody how to do it.

AM:

Oh, yes. Well, I used to have to take the newer Link girls in an airplane to listen to the radio.

EE:

So they'd know what the experience was like.

AM:

Know what it really sounds like.

EE:

To hear a radio over the sound of the engine and everything else.

AM:

Everything else that's going on. Even though you had a radio for your Link and everything, but there was a difference, of course. When I went to NAS in Vero, we went into specialized Links, radar and I forget what the others, but they were different than the Links that I started out in.

EE:

With the kinds of planes that you—

AM:

More complicated.

EE:

—were training for, different, I guess, too, at Vero, as a result?

AM:

Well, now, down at Vero we had bigwigs there quite frequently. They came down from Canada and they were from Spain and here and there, to see the Links. We had to explain, another girl and I, because we worked in twos on radar trainers. We had to explain what all the instruments were and how they related to the airplane.

EE:

So you're doing the showcase for all the VIPs coming through. “This is how it works.”

AM:

And after you have that awful taste [unclear].

EE:

Well, now, if you had these folks from other countries, were you training pilots from other countries?

AM:

No. No.

[Telephone rings.]

EE:

Because I know I talked to some people who did train people from other countries. In fact, there was a group of Dutch Marines that were down at Lejeune sometime in '44 or '45, that must have come just after you left. You probably got to Vero—

[Answering machine in background]

AM:

I knew my daughter wasn't feeling good today. She's leaving work.

EE:

Yes. Well, now, you were at Vero sometime before June of '44. Did the pace of things change after D-Day? What do you remember hearing about D-Day? Do you remember anything?

AM:

Oh, yes. Everybody went out for a big party. Yes, our schedules changed, because they started discharging people rather rapidly.

EE:

Because the tide was definitely turning as we were advancing in the front.

AM:

Yes.

EE:

What kind of planes were flying out of Vero?

AM:

F-16s. They were night fighters. That was a night-fighter base. I can't remember, but they were more complicated.

EE:

Which is why you had to have the radar instrument flying, as opposed to the other?

AM:

Yes.

EE:

So you went down and basically got additional training at Vero Beach, and then helped train other people on these new machines, as well as showing them off to folks.

AM:

Yes.

EE:

If you had eighty to a hundred women at Cherry Point and a hardy half dozen at Bogue, how many were at Vero? How many women were you?

AM:

Well, there were mostly WAVES at Vero, and I would say we, the Marines, were a third of the number of the WAVES, because the WAVES were in administration and it was a naval base. We were just there for Marine detachments.

EE:

You tell me there were two detachments down at Vero Beach when you were there.

AM:

No. I think I told you that at Bogue. At Bogue.

EE:

Okay. That's right. Two at Bogue.

AM:

Bogue was small and couldn't accommodate more than two or three squadrons.

EE:

The day-to-day routine, you're still training, even at different machines, but you're still training about six folks a day to work through the machines? The process is a little bit slower with the more sophisticated machines?

AM:

Well, when we run day and night duty, we'd have at least ten.

EE:

Okay.

AM:

And we had to keep a log on each pilot. And we had colonels down to ensigns.

EE:

Regardless of rank, you had to have your hours in.

AM:

Yes.

EE:

I guess it was April of 1945 when President Roosevelt passed away. Do you remember that day?

AM:

Oh, yes, I do. I think it was April. I'm not sure, though.

EE:

It was right before the end of the war.

AM:

Yes.

EE:

What was the base like when that happened?

AM:

Well, I think it was—I think everybody was upset, to a degree.

EE:

Had you had strong—I mean, you were young, and one of the things that's interesting to talk about people is that it takes a lot to get the attention of a teenager, early twenties person, into world events, and World War II got everybody's attention. Were you following politics much during, and what was going on in the course of the war as things were going on, or were you dealing pretty much with just the day-to-day details of the job?

AM:

Well, I followed it a bit, but not as much as I do these days.

EE:

Were you in communication regularly with your two brothers who were in service?

AM:

Not regularly, because one was in the European theatre and the other was in the Pacific theatre. I didn't see both of them until late November, when they happened to be able to come to Boston to my wedding.

EE:

That's great. So you got married November of '45?

AM:

Yes.

EE:

That's right. You were telling me before we started this, that you met Julian, your future spouse, at Vero.

AM:

Right.

EE:

Did you meet him late '44 when you got there, or was it a little bit later, in '45?

AM:

Let's see. I was married in November. I got out in—I think I'd known him for about six months.

EE:

And he was—

AM:

He was an instructor, night-fighter instructor.

EE:

Night-fighter instructor. So you had probably had similar work experiences to talk about then, I guess.

AM:

Yes. And he used to make many flights up to Jacksonville, to take people who were—so they could train listening to the radio and all that. But I never went with him.

EE:

Did he have his pilot's license himself?

AM:

Yes. He had a commercial license before he joined the navy. He's from Asheville.

EE:

Okay. So that may explain how you got back to North Carolina then. There're some family ties.

AM:

Definitely.

EE:

You know, when I ask people to think back to those days, is there a particular—you fell in love. That's one of the things that happened as a result of your service. Is there a particular song or movie from those times that when you hear or see, takes you back?

AM:

Oh, yes, quite a few.

EE:

What are some of those that do that for you?

AM:

Well, when I watch movies today pertaining to World War II, I find it very interesting. I had Tyrone Power in my Link one time. And there were celebrities that we would meet.

EE:

But he joined just as a regular serviceman. He wasn't doing a USO [United Service Organizations] tour when he showed up in your Link trainer.

AM:

No. He wasn't doing the USO. No.

EE:

So, did you get his autograph?

AM:

No. And one of the entertainments we had on the base at, where was it, Vero, was Frank Sinatra when he was in his glory, when he was young, too. Gosh.

EE:

Was that a USO tour that came through then?

AM:

No. He was the star of a show, and they came to the base. They went to different bases. And who was the man that he used to—he was funny. He was one of his pals. Can't remember.

EE:

Well, he went through several series of—

AM:

Jerry somebody.

EE:

Well, I met a lady, was it Jerry Colona who worked, not with—was that who it was?

AM:

That's his name.

EE:

Jerry Colona?

AM:

Yes. He's a comedian. He was with him. They had entertainment at most bases, one degree or another.

EE:

Right. I was going to say, Frank's probably not going to show up at Bogue, so you're glad you went to Vero Beach. [laughter] VE [Victory in Europe] Day, any special remembrances about the day that ended the war in Europe, or either VJ [Victory in Japan] Day?

AM:

I went to a big party that night at a private home right out on the beach. We lived in what was a Holiday Inn right on the beach in Vero Beach. That was the WAVES and the Marines' barracks. We didn't live on the base.

EE:

Nice location.

AM:

Oh, yes, it was wonderful. When we had time off, we would be lying out on the beach, enjoying it. There was a lot of social—people who lived in the area, on the beach, were always having socials, and invited us. It was nice.

EE:

When you were out off base, I guess, did you have to keep your uniform on? Were you supposed to wear your uniform all the time?

AM:

Oh, yes. Always.

EE:

I think for a lot of people that uniform was a ticket to a lot of goodwill because people would invite them to things just by seeing they were in the service.

AM:

Yes. And when I graduated from LITIS in Atlanta, there was a very nice couple that sent their chauffeur to pick us up any time we wanted to go into Atlanta. They were very, very good, and they took us out to a lake close by Atlanta. They were very nice to us.

EE:

What did you and Julian decide to get married?

AM:

Well, he wanted to get married in Florida at Vero Beach, but I decided I wanted to get back to Boston. So we were married in Boston.

EE:

A lot of people, I know, actually leave the service after being married. That's the reason they leave, or they get pregnant and leave the service. But you both had to wait, I guess, till the end of the war when you were processed out.

AM:

Well, I was discharged before he was.

EE:

Okay.

AM:

In fact, he wasn't discharged until after we were married, and I went back to Vero Beach with him till he got discharged.

EE:

Did you have the option to stay in longer if you want to?

AM:

Oh yes. Yes.

EE:

Some of the services didn't really offer that. They pretty much wanted everybody to go back. But I guess you had built up some skills that they wanted to keep.

AM:

Yes, I suppose so, but—I had the opportunity, but I preferred to go home and get prepared to get married.

EE:

Right. Then what did you all do after your time in service? What kind of careers did you have?

AM:

Well, we moved to—we lived in Vero for a while, and I didn't work anywhere then. But we moved to Asheville, which was his home, and he had been with Cone Mills before he went in the navy. And he still had his job in Asheville at the mill. He was a superintendent. And I went to business school in Asheville before I became pregnant. My first child was born in Asheville, and then we moved down here to Greensboro.

EE:

So how long have you all been here in Greensboro?

AM:

That was in 1947, right in this same house.

EE:

That's great. When I was coming in today on the Bryan Expressway, just knowing just a little, about twenty or so years association with this area, and a lot of things have changed, but this is a nice area that hasn't.

AM:

Yes. And he went into business with his brother. They were both in textiles.

EE:

Did any of your children ever join the military, or express an interest in joining?

AM:

No. I don't think my son would stand a chance, because he's been an asthmatic all his life. But my girls have never expressed a desire to.

EE:

They let women do so many more things now than they did.

AM:

Oh, I know.

EE:

I mean, we just had—Lord knows what they're—

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

EE:

I was asking you if women should be allowed to serve in combat. You said you had some reservations on that.

AM:

I think if a woman is an experienced pilot or experienced—well, I can't think of any other position that I'd like to see a woman in. I wouldn't want to see a woman go out for ground fire or anything like that, but I am not opposed to women aviators. And we have quite a few of them.

EE:

What's the thing, do you think, that your time in the service—how did it change you the most?

AM:

Well, it introduced me to a lot of people who were from different parts of the United States, which I found interesting. There were about six of us that did duty together, most of it at Vero Beach, and we still are in touch with one another.

EE:

That's great.

AM:

And we see one another when we can.

EE:

Had you ever had grits before coming south?

AM:

Yes, my mother loved the, what is the—hominy is what she liked. We didn't have the regular grits. But I never had them before I was in North Carolina.

EE:

It's a different experience. I went north and experienced scrapple in Philadelphia. I had the same sensation.

AM:

Yes. My mother was from Rhode Island. She was used to the hominy, but I never ate that.

EE:

Some people have said that their service made them more independent. Do you think that's what happened to you?

AM:

I think in many ways it did. It made me decide that I did not want to go back in teaching. Now, I have done substitute teaching at my church school, but these days I wouldn't want to be teaching school.

EE:

If you were just a teacher it would be one thing, but you have to be a lot of other roles these days.

AM:

That's true.

EE:

Did you ever do anything in your service experience that got you scared? What's the scariest thing you ever did?

AM:

I think the scariest thing was I was up with a pilot in a plane and I didn't trust his, the way he operated. When I get on a flight—not right now, but back when we used to travel some—it was interesting to me, but it also scared me, because I knew what the pilot should be doing. [laughter]

EE:

Guess that's pretty frightening, when you think about it. You're double checking, and you're having to be a mom to every pilot on the service.

AM:

I used to say a prayer that he'd taken lots of Link. [EE laughs.]

EE:

That's pretty good.

AM:

It's frightening these days. I feel sorry for pilots these days.

EE:

Certainly things have changed since the last few months.

AM:

Oh, lord.

EE:

You know, since the last few months we have gotten—gosh, I've seen more flags the last—you have a beautiful one outside. But you know, it is—people don't take our country for granted, I don't think. But do you think that we were more patriotic back during the war? How is the mood of the country different now?

AM:

I think we were very patriotic after Pearl Harbor.

EE:

Did you ever worry that we might not win the war?

AM:

Back during World War II? No, I had faith that we would. But I'm afraid this war that we're in now, it's going to be here the rest of our lives, because terrorists are everywhere.

EE:

It's a harder one to fight when there's not a clear battlefield.

AM:

I used to talk to my brother, who was a naval aviator, and he ended up being—he stayed in the reserves, and he ended up being a captain. He was head of a squadron out of Weymouth, Massachusetts, for years. I admired him for staying in the reserves. But now my husband wanted to stay in the reserves, too. But as a child, he had been hit in one eye with a BB from a BB gun, and as he got older, that affected his sight, and he couldn't pass the physical. Because he used to go up to Norfolk once a month to follow the reserve setting. Of course, I had three children. I didn't consider anything. I was taking care of them.

EE:

You were talking about, you keep up with half a dozen folks that you were in the service with. You meet all different kinds from all different backgrounds. Is there a particular funny story, either about yourself dealing with those folks, or about them, that you might share with us?

AM:

When you have that kind of—

EE:

[Laughs] Okay. [Unclear] for off the record. Do you know any on-the-record stories?

AM:

Well, we stayed such close buddies for so many years, and people from the West Coast and from mid-United States, they seemed to have a different outlook on a lot of things than Easterners do.

EE:

Sure.

AM:

And, of course, people say to me, “Oh, you're just a damn Yankee, because you're from Boston.” Oh, me.

EE:

If a young woman came to you today—the service has changed a lot, but still, you went through the discipline, the structure. If a woman came to you today and said—maybe she's seventeen. She said, “I'm thinking about joining the military.” What would your sage advice be to her?

AM:

Well, first I'd advise her to join the Marines rather than another branch, and to take advantage of the education that you can take. And I think it would depend on what sort of interests the girl had had before she thought about going in the service. But a lot of parents are dead set against girls going in.

EE:

Do you think—you had to, I'm sure, hear misconceptions that people had about folks in the service. What do you think the biggest misconception is for people who—my generation compared with you folks, had this service experience. You volunteered to join. It wasn't a mandatory draft. Folks didn't have that required service. What do you think people who are not in the military don't understand about military folks?

AM:

Well, are you talking about men or women?

EE:

Either and both.

AM:

Either. Both. I think that most people have greater respect for young people joining the military than they did years ago. I think it's more prevalent today.

EE:

You think that's in part due to the different kinds of work they can do in the military now?

AM:

Yes. And I think it's wonderful that if you serve so many years and what have you, that the government helps people to get a good education, which they might not be able to do if they didn't have their military background.

EE:

My father-in-law was in the Marines, stationed at Cherry Point and then El Toro, and he was “Semper Fi” to the very end. The Women Marines, they were always Semper Fi as well? Did they have their own special phrase?

AM:

I think so. Oh, I was going to say something. Forget. Well, speaking of education, any young man who has been in service, particularly men, as a youngster, like in the navy, I think that it's wonderful that they have the opportunity to get a good education, and should take advantage of it. I don't know what it would be like after this war, but—

EE:

If you had to—of course, none of us can do our lives over again, but if you had to do this part of your life over again, would you have done it?

AM:

Yes. Because it was an awakening to me, and it was something so different than the way I had been living.

EE:

When you were in, I guess they did not allow Women Marines overseas, did they?

AM:

No. But I did have the opportunity to go, and it would have been overseas, to Hawaii. The reason I didn't, a member of my family was dying, and I thought, “Oh, I can't be that far away from home.” That was before Hawaii and Alaska became states.

EE:

That's right.

AM:

So that would have been overseas.

EE:

Well, I'm anxious to hear this off-the-record story, so let me ask you, is there anything about—it's terribly unfair to come in and say, “Tell me in an hour the most important things about your life over the last fifty years,” but anything else that you'd like to share with us about either your time in service, or how that's affected you since then?

AM:

Well, I'm still very proud of the time I spent in the service, because I know that I did help men be able to fulfill their desires to go and fight.

EE:

You were telling me before that you had donated a uniform which found its way to the Women in Military Service Memorial up in Arlington this last year. And another one, I guess it's down at the Greensboro Museum as well.

AM:

I'm told it is. Yes.

EE:

Do you stay active in the Women Marines Association?

AM:

Oh, yes. But we've never had a chapter in this area. I knew just one other person in Greensboro itself—she's been dead quite a while now—that was in the Marines. She was in recruitment on the West Coast, and I did not want to be in a job where I was sitting behind a desk.

EE:

Well, if you get to see Tyrone Power and experience the scenic beauty of Bogue Field, I guess you've had a full military experience. [laughs] You got that. You got all the driver there that you want.

AM:

I wanted to go—I was down at Emerald Isle last summer with my daughter and her family, and I wanted to go out to Bogue and see if I could just go on the base and ride around, because when I was there, Swansboro was all dirt roads. Bogue Field was dirt. There wasn't even any grass. But I didn't get the opportunity to. It's all changed.

EE:

It's changed so much.

AM:

Oh, me. No, those were good times. They were educational for a person, and I was glad that I had served the time I did.

EE:

Well, on behalf of the school and myself, thank you for doing this this afternoon. We certainly appreciate your nearly three years of service there.

AM:

Well, you're nice to want to listen to my sketchy—

EE:

Well, I would imagine you trained not a few pilots over the course of those three years, almost, so there's probably not a few folks who, looking back, probably appreciate the fact that you helped get them through a day's battle. So, thank you very much.

[End of interview]