By Pat Mandell
Carolina Meadows has seven female residents whom we especially honor this coming Veterans Day. In October, a special luncheon was held to celebrate these women who have given so much to our country. Each veteran held up a picture of herself while in the military and told stories of that exciting time in her life.
Joanne Harrell: After graduating from nursing school in Minnesota in the spring of 1967, Joanne joined the Air Force. She was assigned to the Intensive Care Unit at Travis Air Force base in California. Later, she got an exciting offer to help set up the first Coronary Care Unit in the Air Force. Her experiences at Travis instilled in Joanne the “need to support our military,” and at the same time, she became anti-war.
Betty Etten Wiker: Betty Etten served as a Squadron Commander of WACs in Alaska during WWII. In December 1942, at age 21, Betty enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). In March 1944, after graduating from Officer Candidate School, Betty was reassigned to Hill Field in Ogden, Utah, to run the Officer’s Club. Later, she was transferred to Ladd Army Airfield in Fairbanks, Alaska, as a squadron commander in charge of over 100 WACs. Betty continued to serve as a squadron commander for the next four years. She was discharged in July 1952 with the rank of major.
Georgia Hosking: Twenty-year- old Georgia joined the WAVES in 1944 in Wisconsin, went to boot camp at Hunter College, Brooklyn, NY, and then to Iowa State College to learn how to be a yeoman (secretary). She was assigned to training school at the University of Chicago for Navy pilots who were operating in Lake Michigan. Georgia worked for the Base Commander, located in the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry. She was discharged in 1945. She says, “It was a great time of my life.”
Margaret Knoerr: Born in Pennsylvania in 1924, Margaret was too young at 18 to join the US forces, so she answered a recruiting poster for the Canadian Women’s Army Corps and volunteered to serve in support of her brother, who was flying missions over Germany. She was active in recruiting and also in war bond drives.
Dorothy Ferster: Dorothy served in Naval Intelligence in Washington DC in WWII. Dorothy joined the WAVES upon early graduation as an English major from Flora Stone Mather College. After six month’s training, she was commissioned an ensign in January and reported for duty as a communications officer at the Navy Department in Washington, DC. Here she served decoding, encoding, and delivering messages on ship convoys and other top secret information. When she first sat at her desk in a room full of men, she realized she had freed up a sailor for combat. Two years later, the room was all women.