Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D.
Roosevelt on July This authorized the U. Navy to accept women into the Naval Reserve as commissioned officers and at the enlisted level, effective for the duration of the war plus six months. The purpose of the law was to release officers and men for sea duty and replace them with women in shore establishments. Mildred H. She was commissioned a lieutenant commander on August 3, , and later promoted to commander and then to captain.
The notion of women serving in the Navy was not widely supported in the Congress or by the Navy, even though some of the lawmakers and naval personnel did support the need for uniformed women during World War II. To be eligible for officer candidate school , women had to be aged 20 to 49 and possess a college degree or have two years of college and two years of equivalent professional or business experience.
Volunteers at the enlisted level had to be aged 20 to 35 and possess a high school or a business diploma, or have equivalent experience.
Specialized training for officers was conducted on several college campuses and naval facilities. After recruit training, some women attended specialized training courses on college campuses and at naval facilities. The territory of Hawaii was the only overseas station where their staff was assigned. Many female officers entered fields previously held by men, such as medicine and engineering. Enlisted women served in jobs from clerical to parachute riggers. Many women experienced workplace hostility from their male counterparts.
The Navy's lack of clear-cut policies, early on, was the source of many of the difficulties. As auxiliaries, women would serve with the Army rather than in it, and would be denied the benefits of their male counterparts. Opposition delayed the passage of the bill until May Nimitz, to propose legislation as it had done during World War I , authorizing women to serve in the Navy under the Yeoman F classification.
Nimitz was not considered an advocate for bringing women into the Navy, and the head of the U. Naval Reserve expressed the view that the Civil Service would be able to supply any extra personnel that might be needed. On December 9, , Representative Rogers telephoned Nimitz and asked him whether the Navy was interested in some sort of women's auxiliary corps. Rogers that at the present time I saw no great need for such a bill".
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With few exceptions, the responses were negative, but Congressional inquiries about the Navy's plan for women continued to increase. On January 2, , the Bureau of Naval Personnel, in an about-face, recommended to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox that Congress be asked to authorize a women's organization.
The director of the Bureau of the Budget opposed his idea, but would agree to legislation similar to the WAAC bill — where women were with, but not in, the Navy. This was unacceptable to Knox. The Bureau of Aeronautics continued to believe there was a place for women in the Navy, and appealed to an influential friend of naval aviation named Margaret Chung. Many of her naval friends referred to themselves as sons of Mom Chung.
In Crossed Currents , the authors describe how Chung used her influence:. Having learned of the stalemate, she asked one of these [sons], Representative Melvin Maas of Minnesota , who had served in the aviation branch of the U.
Reminiscences of Two Years in the United States Navy
On 18 March he did just that. The Maas House bill was identical to the Knox proposal, which would make a women's branch part of the Naval Reserve. At the same time, Senator Raymond E. Willis of Indiana introduced a similar bill in the Senate. It was passed by the House the same day and sent to the Senate.
Walsh of Massachusetts. He did not want women in the Navy because it "would tend to break-up American homes and would be a step backwards in the progress of civilization". Roosevelt approved it, but Knox asked the president to reconsider.
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By mid, it was apparent to the Navy that women would eventually be allowed to serve. The quandary for the organization was how to administer a women's program while fashioning it to their own liking. Gildersleeve , dean of Barnard College. Reynard was well known for her academic work on women in the workplace. She quickly formed the Women's Advisory Council to meet with Navy officials.
Gildersleeve became the chairperson, and because of her efforts several prominent women agreed to serve on the council. They included:. The council knew the success of the program would depend on the woman chosen to lead it. A prospective candidate would need to possess proven managerial skills, command respect, and have an ability to get along with others. Their recommendation was Mildred H. McAfee , president of Wellesley College, as the future director. McAfee was an experienced and respected academician, whose background would provide a measure of credibility to the idea of women serving in the Navy.
Reynard, who was later commissioned a lieutenant in the WAVES and rose to commander ,  was tasked with selecting a name: . I realized there were two letters that had to be in it: W for women and V for volunteer, because the Navy wants to make it clear that this is a voluntary service and not a drafted service. I figured the word Emergency would comfort the older admirals because it implies that we're only a temporary crisis and won't be around for keeps.
On May 25, , the Senate Naval Affairs Committee recommended to the president that the legislation to create a women's reserve for the U. Navy should parallel that of the original WAAC legislation, which decreed that women would serve with the Army rather than in it. The president called on Knox to reconsider his position, but Knox stood his ground.
Roosevelt showed Elliott's letter to her husband, the president, and she sent Gildersleeve's letter on to the Undersecretary of the Navy , James V. Forrestal , a former naval aviator. Within days Forrestal replied, saying that Secretary Knox had asked the president to reconsider.
Batten, Reminiscences of Two Years in the United States Navy, 1e
On June 16, Knox informed Rear Admiral Jacobs that the president had given him authority to proceed with a women's reserve. By July 21, the bill had passed both houses of Congress and been sent to the president, who signed it on July 30 as Public Law I understood that the matzah was a huge hit. So I refrained from leavened bread for that week. The next year I was on a ship homeported in Subic Bay, the Philippines. There I discovered that the U. Manila has a significant Sephardi community because it was a Spanish colony.
Look at a map. How far away is the Spanish Inquisition? While on the ship, I attended services at the 32 nd Street Naval Station when we were in port. We were married in the base chapel on June 7, Ours was a Navy wedding, and we left the chapel under the raised sabers of my fellow residents. Unfortunately, the wedding planners forgot the glass to break at the end of the ceremony. I still owe the senior chaplain a light bulb which I borrowed from his desk lamp to use instead. It is not the end of the world, but if you stand on your tiptoes you can see it. There were Jewish personnel and civilians in the desert, and we formed a friendship group to hold services.
My father built a portable ark for the social hall of the base chapel. One congregant brought a Holocaust Torah back from England for the ark. My eldest son, David, had his bris there, and the Jewish chaplain from Camp Pendleton officiated. The test pilot school for the Navy and Air Force is located there.
My youngest son was born in the Naval Hospital and had his bris there. We were unable to find a mohel, so I performed the bris myself. Yes, there was a lot of pressure! My strongest memory was a Passover while the Navy Seabees CB construction battalion was working on a nearby base.
Several were Jewish, from New York, asking where the Seder would be. The base chaplain called and asked if I was aware of any Seder held nearby. Kathie and I hosted four sailors. The rabbi assigned to Bethesda Naval Hospital would come once a month and hold services at Patuxent. I was the Jewish lay reader. This is the only specifically designed Jewish chapel in the U. Navy, the man who abolished flogging in the U. Navy, and who saved Monticello after Thomas Jefferson died. The chaplain notified me that the Jewish community had invited Jewish personnel to attend services with them.
As the only practicing Jew aboard my ship, I accepted. The new community consisted of Moroccan Jews who worked in the petrochemical industry in Northern France. I was in uniform. Delivery is free for the UK. All delivery costs are charged in advance at time of purchase. Except for damaged items or delivery issues the cost of return postage is borne by the buyer. Your statutory rights are not affected. Foyles Bookshop.