History | 24 July 2015The Women’s Army Corps Share article facebook twitter google pinterest In 1948, Congress decided that women could serve in the Organized Reserve Corps as well as the regular army. Good call, Congress. Just consider that the army’s records showed women could fly better and adapted to instruments faster than men. Too bad they weren’t allowed to do any flying during World War II, though. Below is an excerpt from the book Army: An Illustrated History, by Chester G. Hearn and Robert F. Dorr, which offers an overview of the Women’s Army Corps. WACs endured the same cramped quarters as men on troop ships. Source – Army: An Illustrated History On May 14, 1942, Congress established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. When on May 27 recruiting began, 13,000 women stormed the registration centers. The original mission of the corps was to train women for positions that released men for duty in combat divisions. The women performed so well that Congress, on September 1, 1943, gave the auxiliary military status as part of the US Army and renamed it the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Four women from the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), an organization later formed by combining the WAFS and the Women’s Flying Training Detachment. Source – Army: An Illustrated History The army assigned WACs to duties in administration, communications, medical care, supply, intelligence, and in total some 235 different army jobs. In many registration centers, recruiters ran out of application forms. “If the guys can take it,” one volunteer said of her new life in olive drab, “so can I.” Eleanor Roosevelt took special interest in the program, and with WAC director Ovetta Culp Hobby traveled about the country recruiting female college students, especially those with nurse’s training, who joined the Army Nurse Corps, which had become a permanent part of the army’s medical establishment in 1901. Nowhere on the front lines were nurses needed more than in the South Pacific, where malaria, dysentery, and jungle infections racked up casualties faster than bullets and shrapnel. After weeks of fighting in the jungles of Guadalcanal, Papua, and Bougainville, men came out of the areas emaciated, racked with fever, and covered with sores. Medics could apply bandages and administer doses of sulfa and quinine in the field, but only the hospitals on Australia, attended by army doctors and nurses, could bring the soldier back to health. In June 1944, African American nurses provide treatment in the surgical ward at the 268th Station Hospital, Milne Bay, New Guinea. Source – Army: An Illustrated History The army also learned that women could fly and adapted to instruments faster than men. The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) came into existence, but female fliers were never given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in war zones. Eventually, more than 143,000 women served as WACs, the largest of the women’s services in World War II. MacArthur and Eisenhower praised their work and in 1946 asked Congress to include WACs in the regular army, thus making it a permanent career field for women. Congress debated the issue for two years, finally agreeing in June 1948 to allow women to serve in the Organized Reserve Corps as well as the regular army. Colonel Hobby built the Women’s Army Corps from scratch, earned the Distinguished Service Medal for her achievements, and later became a member of President Eisenhower’s cabinet. Army: An Illustrated History Author: Chester Hearn and Robert F. Dorr Get the complete story on the largest, oldest, and longest-serving branch of the US military. From the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary to the “Coalition of the Willing” in today’s Iraq War, the United States Army has fulfilled its solemn charge for the past 235 years: to provide for the common defense, at home and abroad. To a significant degree, the US Army’s story is the story of the United States, as becomes clear in this beautifully illustrated history of the military branch. From its beginnings as a rag-tag force of colonial militia to its current incarnation as the world’s most powerful and sophisticated land-combat force, no detail is left unexplored in Army: An Illustrated History. With an emphasis on post-Vietnam operations and detailed information on the technological component of the force’s current military might, military historian Chester Hearn, with contributions on the past ten years of the branch’s history by Robert F. Dorr, follows the US Army through its combat history–the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, various Indian wars, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf war, and Afghanistan and Iraq–offering a complete and thoroughly fascinating account of an armed force ever remaking itself to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. Buy from an Online Retailer Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.