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Texas | WWII

Texas Women in World War II

by Cindy Weigand
Republic of Texas Press, 2003
253 pages, 90 photographs

A Review by Linda Lipscomb:

NURSES, WACS, WAVES, and SPARS
Uniformed Women of
"The Greatest Generation"

World War II newsreels documented one of most traditional roles that women played during wartime, nursing wounded soldiers in remote make-shift hospitals. Though women's participation in the military has grown significantly since then, many people do not realize the extent to which women actually were involved during that war.

Cindy Weigand of Georgetown, hopes her first book, Texas Women in World War II will enlighten us with stories about women's contributions during WWII.

An award-winning author and amateur historian, Ms. Weigand has several published works. Her most recent acclamation is The DALTON Pen, Award of Merit for her article "Yankee Doodle Gals of World War II", published in Texas Co-op Power.


"Texas Women in World War II" chronicles the experiences of 27 Texas women served in the Women's Army Corps, Women's Air Force Service Pilots, Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, and Women's Reserve of the Coast Guard. Many also worked as Army Nurses, Navy Nurses, and representatives of the American Red Cross and Civil Air Patrol.



The book captures the veteran's memories of service, which often were brushed aside after the war. Each story is supported with "then and now" photographs that help establish a sense of individuality and continuity over time. Using individual accounts of historical events, Ms. Weigand manages to pull these lives together while documenting the separate accomplishments of each woman.

"Born on the heels of World War I and having grown up during the Great Depression, life hadn't been easy for these women, yet they wanted to serve their country to preserve the ideals they held dear. Each individual intended to pay her debt, even if it meant at the cost of her life," writes Ms. Weigand.

Women tell their stories of life as airplane mechanics and pilots during the war. After planes had been repaired, they took them up for "slow-time", flying straight and level and slow to make sure they were operating correctly. Others ferried aircraft from closed bases, transported personnel to different bases, or towed flag-like cloth targets for cadets to fire at so they could practice aerial gunnery.

Navy and Army Nurses describe the carnage they saw while working with wounded patients, caring for soldiers who lost legs, were burned, or suffered brain damage. Rather then letting their patients know they felt sorry for them, the nurses tried to ignore the illness and focus on the person and do what they could to keep the soldier's minds off the war.

One Army Nurse reflected on the three years spent as a prisoner of war in Santo Tomas, an internment camp in the Philippines. Others recalled having performed surgeries by the light of Coleman lanterns as the Japanese bombed the camp.

Members of Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service recall ferrying mail across the U.S. and sorting it to send overseas. Others remember the concessions made allowing them to even be in the Navy in the first place. One Marine who served as an electrician expressed the difficulties many encountered during boot camp because the country was in the middle of war and there wasn't time to learn more than the basics.

As the women recall specific dates and times during the war, many of their lives seem intertwined. In particular, women who worked with the Woman's Army Corps were brought together through their work with one woman, Oveta Culp Hobby, director of the Woman's Army Auxiliary Corps. Born in Killeen, Ms. Hobby became the wife of Texas governor William Hobby, but she was destined to become a leader on her own by virtue of her accomplishments.

"Texas Women in World War II" includes joyful stories, but there are just as many stories of horrific events. Many women remember precisely where they were and what they were doing on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, on April 12, 1945 when President Roosevelt died, and on September 2, 1945 when the Japanese signed the surrender agreement.

Ms. Weigand's book concludes with a brief timeline of World War II in Europe and a chronology of events at the Philippine Islands and the Santo Tomas internment camp.

Anyone interested in war history will be impressed with the coverage given to this important period seen through the eyes of those who haven't, until now, spoken much about a different side of war. This book is highly recommended to young readers interested in learning more about the jobs women held during war years. For information about book signings and other engagements, visit the author's web site at www.cindy weigand.com.

Linda Lipscomb is a children's book author and freelance writer residing in Georgetown.

March 8, 2004

We're proud to present this review written by author Linda Lipscomb of Georgetown. We thank both Ms. Weigand and Ms. Lipscomb for making this possible. - Editor

Related Topics: Texas | World War II | Texas Books |
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