• Mr. Speaker, they were tenacious, they were selfless and they were humble. They were the 350,000 women of the greatest generation who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For many years their altruistic efforts went without recognition. However, these women were the sustaining fuel and energy in helping the U.S. victory during the great WWII . Not only were they the backbone of the nation, they were the backbones of their families. These women represent the word patriot to its fullest extent. Women joined the war effort in two distinct and important ways:
  • Some supported America at home in factories, machine shops and businesses while taking care of their families. Others joined the military and fought the war in uniform.
  • WWII not only changed American history but changed American society.
  • With over 16 million fighting overseas, typical male roles were left open, creating enormous needs throughout the nation. At the request of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, women stepped right in to assume their position in the workforce. The traditional home was forever altered with more women joining the workforce.
  • America was captivated by the new personas of women . Rosie the Riveter served as a constant reminder that women can absolutely do it too. Women were the concrete foundation in what was a man's world.Women were not only wives and mothers; they were the workforce for the ``Arsenal of Democracy''. They were truck drivers, air plane mechanics, lab technicians, radio operators, meteorologists, translators, and photograph analyzers.
  • Mr. Speaker, on a personal note, when my mother, Dorrace Hill, was a teenager she was one of the home front warriors who answered the call. She went to school during the day, and worked 40 hours a week as a receptionist at the Kyle Hotel in Temple, Texas.
  • But she spent a great deal of time as a Red Cross Volunteer and later an employee at McCloskey Army Hospital--later a VA Hospital--caring for wounded GIs. (After Germany surrendered in 1945 my Army Dad, TSGT Virgil Poe, was sent from Europe to nearby Ft Hood TEXAS to be reequipped for the invasion of Japan when WWII ended. He later met and married my mother in Temple, Texas. Now they live in Houston, Texas.)
  • Other women began serving in America's Armed Forces. These volunteers became members of the U.S. Army, and Navy. As nurses they tended sick and wounded throughout the U.S. and the world. They took care of American warriors worldwide. Texas pioneered these efforts for female warriors.
  • Texas was home to the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). These women were the first women in history to fly America's military aircrafts. Texas is the only state where these women completed WASP flight training. Sweetwater, Texas became home to Avenger Field--the only base in history to train exclusively women to fly military aircraft. These women flew all types of military aircraft that would later be used by male pilots in combat. Women would also serve in the U.S. Navy as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
  • These would be both in the enlisted and officer ranks. One of the most influential women during the 1940's was Oveta Culp Hobby. It should be no surprise that she was a Texan. Of course!
  • Oveta was the first director of the Women's Army Corps (WAC) the women's branch of the U.S. Army. Oveta paved the way for women warriors, recognizing that women too could serve their country. She went on to become the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • From Rosie the Riveter, to my mother, to Oveta Hobby and the thousands more women who served in the home land and foreign lands, they were that remarkable breed of Americans who deserve our utmost thanks. They were the very heart behind the cause.
  • They became role models for future generations. General George S. Patton once remarked that we should thank God that such men as our warriors lived; we should too praise God that such remarkable women lived.
  • And that's just the way it is.