#WATWB: Jessie Kuster

Jessie Kuster

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.

57 thoughts on “#WATWB: Jessie Kuster

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    1. Thanks GP. So many people served in so many small but important ways. That kind of spirit is remarkable. For a young woman to leave her family, at times not even telling them where she was going, is worth remembering. You bring it to us every day and I appreciate that.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Judy. This story spoke to me in so many ways. Jessie had a wonderful life. She traveled, she saw lots of things and met so many interesting people, but it all began with the notion of service to her country.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for sharing this story, Dan. Jesse was a remarkable woman, as are all women who serve their country. It took some amount of courage to get on a train and not tell family where you are headed. Her mom and dad must have been both proud and a little concerned when she left for who-knows-where.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She said in the interview that her father was not happy with her choice. Her mother basically told her “if you want to go, go.” But, they came to be very proud of her, early on during her career. I love how the community works. GP passes along a tidbit of information and you guys are hosting the perfect platform to share that story. I like to think that Jessie would be happy.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve been following GP’s great blog for awhile now, Dan. Thanks for sharing this amazing woman’s story. A woman in any occupation that is traditionally male has a lot of courage. Even today — there have been many times when I’ve found myself the only woman in the room. With so much outsourcing, once I was not only the only woman, but I was also one of only 2 Americans. (And I DO mean it was in this country.) So what if she didn’t “save the world”… She accomplished “small” things that most “great” people would not have been able to handle. Okay… I’ll get off my Julia Sugarbaker soapbox now. Sorry. Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stay on that soapbox Teagan. We need to get to a point where stories of remarkable women are not uncommon. We need to give them the opportunity because they’ve already shown that they can handle them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done Dan. I too have been following GP’s site for some time now. Reading his posts keeps things in a healthy perspective for me, reminding us of where we’ve “been” as a nation with regard to international conflict resolution…indeed a very mixed bag of highs and lows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I really enjoy his site. My dad was in the Army and served in the Philippines and on New Guinea during WWII and I have learned so much about his experiences. He didn’t talk about them very often, and he died 34 years ago, so we don’t know much about that time in his life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always been fascinated by the WAVES. They had a kind of spunk and spirit that inspires. Thanks for this contribution to #WATWB. It may be an obituary, but it’s a positive memory nonetheless.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t think you cheated at all – this is a very uplifting story. We often hear about the big achievers, but behind them is ALWAYS at least one person who provided the support needed to make it happen.
    Your closing line summed it up perfectly … “Women weren’t in combat in the 1940’s but women served in roles so that men could be in combat”. I give a silent thank you to all those – like Jessie Kuster – who played a critical support role.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for this worthy post, Dan. I’m not sure what I’m more impressed by, that Jesse, and others like her gave themselves, or, that she did so in such a no fuss, humble, way. Your day was better for reading her story. Our Blogfest is the better for you sharing such a story. Thanks for being with us Simon’s Still Stanza #WATWB

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  7. This was such a fascinating story of a brave woman, representing many military women who were not even recognized for to their personal, private participation in a secret mission. I would love a movie about this like the NASA scientists and mathematicians which for some reason history books and even newspapers “forgot.” Thank you, Dan for reading all 55 pages of this document. Thank you, GP Cox!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. Women played significant roles in the military, in science and in space. I don’t know why we had such trouble recognizing it. At least we’re starting to tell their stories now.

      Like

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