On May 15, 1942, Public Law 554 was approved and the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was founded.
Besides nurses, the women who served in the WAC were the first women to serve in the US Army.
Pallas Athene was chosen as the official insignia for the WAC. Designed by the Heraldic Section of the Quartermaster General’s Office, Headquarters, Department of the Army.
From the WAC website, a snippet on how it came about:
… hit upon the idea of a head of Pallas Athene, a Roman and Greek Goddess associated with an impressive variety of womanly virtues…She was the goddess of handicrafts, wise in industries of peace and arts of war, also the goddess of storms and battle, who led through victory to peace and prosperity. Accordingly, the head of Pallas Athene, together with the traditional US, was selected for lapel insignia, cut out for officers and on discs for enlisted women.
The story of the Women’s Army Corps is both one of the most fascinating and least well-known chapters in our military history.
It was created as an auxiliary unit known as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and was not converted to full status as the Women’s Army Corps until July 1st, 1943.
The WAC was finally disbanded in 1978.
There are a treasure of videos which are quite the time capsules. And quite a peek into how far we have come in alerting the patriarchy that contrary to its wishes, women really are not as dumb and naive as we appear in their dreams.
Let’s start when it was still the WAAC. Say hello to weight shaming! Too dumb to know left and right! Gems abound:
1943 WAAC Recruiting Film “We’re In The Army Now”
Forward into the 1960’s, when soldiers where told to shave their underarms. Which as you know I say leave them the fuck alone(!!). In this gem, do not DO NOT miss the wrong way to walk with examples of the masculine lope and the teenage wiggle at around 9:00:
Strictly Personal: Women’s Army Corps Training – Hygiene, Health and Conduct
And even to the 1970’s:
Look Like a Winner: Military Etiquette and Grooming, 1971
In this last one, please, please, go to 5 minutes in and hang out a for a few to learn about how the superiorly qualified Carol’s masculine walk gets her passed over by someone who knows how to act like girl.
How to Succeed in the U.S. Military: Women’s Army Corps Manners, Etiquette, Hair, Make-Up (1970)
One thing you should notice is the amount of WOC in WAC!
As usual, their role in our history completely forgotten by our country and that is whack!
Unfortunately, the story of the Women’s Army Corps is also the story of the massive contamination of Ft McClellan in Alabama. We will have to save that for another day.
Female veterans of Fort McClellan in Alabama are questioning whether their serious health problems are related to the time they spent there after learning that the Army base was contaminated with harmful chemicals.
Linda Geser and Paula Hebert, who live doors apart in Troy’s John F. Kennedy Towers, completed basic training at the Anniston, Ala., base during the Vietnam War. The sprawling facility hosted the Women’s Army Corps School,Military Police School and Chemical Corps, and served as the military’s primary chemical and biological training center before closing in 1999.
So on this Memorial Day, let’s not forget the women who fought through much more than wartime for their country.
There are a few WACs on this list of Seven Famous Women Veterans so take a look and spread the word.