One of the blogs I have been following for a very long time is “Pacific Paratrooper” by GP Cox. GP shares stories about the war(s) in the Pacific theater, and shares little known history, first-person accounts, stories from the enemy’s point of view and a little bit of humor. One of the regular features of that blog as a section called Farewell Salutes, which calls attention to the veterans who have passed away. When I was reading that sad section yesterday, I noticed an entry from Hartford, Connecticut.
I know, this is supposed to be a blogfest where we share uplifting stories about humanity, and I am sharing an obituary.
I’m sorry, if I’m breaking the rules, but when I started reading about Jessie Kuster’s life, my day became better. Jessie didn’t win a major battle. Jessie wasn’t the first woman to do this, that or the other thing. Jessie wasn’t a General or an Admiral or a Test Pilot. She was a Yeoman in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Intelligence Division, Sabotage Section, during WWII.
When I searched on Jessie, I was lead to a “Transcript of an interview conducted by the Naval War College as part of a project to record the experiences of WAVES during World War II.”
I clicked on the link to the 55-page transcript, and I read the whole thing. Jessie was a young woman who volunteered for a significant role in our military during a time of war, and found a home in the Navy.
I want to share a few excerpts from the transcript, to show you why I couldn’t stop reading:
EMC: Would you say that patriotism was a motivating factor as well?
JK: Oh, yes, yes. That was one of the prime factors. Because my brother was in the Service we were all very war conscious. I thought I would be helping the country.
EMC: I think there was a feeling then that women didn’t join the Armed Services. There was a definite feeling that it wasn’t the place for you to be. I guess nobody respectable did that.
JK: That’s right.
EMC: You were kind of shady.
JK: That’s exactly right.
EMC: Where did they send you for this additional training?
JK: I went to Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, to a training school for yeomen for two months.
EMC: And how did you get out there?
JK: We were told where we were going and to tell no one, not even our family. We left New York in the morning, boarding a train which traveled through Canada. Window shades were pulled down. This was a precaution to prevent sabotage, which could curtail 200 to 400 WAVES from releasing men for sea service.
That’s her story. Women weren’t in combat in the 1940’s but women served in roles so that men could be in combat.
The “We are the World” Blogfest is in its second month of a year-long journey. This blogfest’s goal is to spread the message of light, hope and love in today’s world. We are challenging all participants to share the positive side of humanity. This month’s co-hosts, Peter Nena, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Simon Falk, Belinda Witzenhausen and Mary Giese welcome participants and encourage all to join in during future months. #WATWB is a blog hop on the last Friday of every month. Click HERE to check out the intention and rules of the blogfest and feel free to sign up at any time between now and February of 2018.