#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.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
This entry was posted in WATWB, Women in history and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to #WATWB: Jessie Kuster

  1. Anonymous says:

    😀👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GP Cox says:

    I am thrilled that I had anything at all to have Ms. Kuster’s story told, Dan. That generation amazes me more and more each day!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      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

  3. Peter Nena says:

    What a strong spirit! Thank you, Dan, for bringing Miss Kuster’s story to the #WATWB.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. During the years of WWII, that old saying of ‘behind every successful man is a woman’ seems to hold true in this case and many more. Today, we are concerned about electronic apps that can tell us which of two outfits look the best. I like your story better. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      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

  5. bikerchick57 says:

    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

  6. loisajay says:

    ‘You were shady.’ “That’s exactly right.” I think she was ahead of her time. Wonderful post, Dan, and it was uplifting.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 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

  8. Almost Iowa says:

    Pacific Paratrooper is a fabulous blog and the way GP Cox curates it and interacts with the readers is a pure joy.

    The story of Jessie Kuster is wonderful. She served, that is all we need to know. It is more than enough to earn our respect and admiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think this post is perfect for WATWB. This shows the spirit of one and can be a guide to the spirit of many. Good job, Dan

    Liked by 3 people

  10. 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

    • Dan Antion says:

      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

  11. Ally Bean says:

    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

  12. This was fantastic. Although it was an obituary it shared the story of this wonderful woman! Thanks so much for sharing this! #WATWB :)

    Like

  13. joey says:

    Nice choice, even in obituary — a fascinating life to learn about.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Joanne Sisco says:

    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

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Joanne. She played a basic but consistent role throughout her many years of service. She worked for or at least met some big names. She did her part and then some, and for the best reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Jennie says:

    What a great post, Dan. Thank you! I, too, follow GP Cox. Great blog! I scroll down to read the obituaries, but not with a keen eye. I’d better sharpen my glasses. Jessie was a gem!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I enjoy G.P.’s posts too. I love how you took the time to research one of the Farewell Salutes. Well done, Dan. Heroe’s all.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Inderpreet says:

    Such a nice idea of sharing this inspiring story. We salute such brave women.

    Thank you so much! Team #WATWB
    *Inderpreet/EloquentArticulation*

    Like

  18. What a solid soul! Much thanks to you, Dan…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. cwaugh212 says:

    My much older half-sister was a nurse in WWII and served in England, the Philippines, and then finished her service in post-war Japan. What a generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. simonfalk28 says:

    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

    Like

  21. Reblogged this on KCJones and commented:
    Yes, we follow GP Cox also!

    Like

  22. Thanks for sharing the story of this spirited woman, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. reocochran says:

    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

    • Dan Antion says:

      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

  24. What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it, so we get to celebrate her as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. What a spirited and forward-thinking woman for the ’40’s era!
    There may be more women like Jessie, who we may never hear of.
    Thank you for sharing her story. :)
    Writer In Transit

    Liked by 1 person

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