Posted Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
American Service Women in World War II Included Morris County Residents
By Jan Williams
On July 30, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Public Law 689, creating the Women’s Reserve as an integral part of the U.S. Navy during World War II. As a result, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, or the WAVES, was born.
The United States Naval Reserve (Women’s Reserve), better known as the WAVES, was the women’s branch of the United States Naval Reserve.
Approximately 86,000 WAVES served their country, freeing up as many men to serve on battleships, aircraft carriers, and heavy cruisers in overseas duty. Some other women served as Navy nurses. Included among the WAVES were a number of Morris County women. (see list below)
The word “emergency” in the WAVES acronym implied that the acceptance of women was due to the unusual circumstances of the war and that at the end of the war the women would not be allowed to continue in a Navy career.
At the conclusion on the war, the WAVES received accolades from senior Navy personnel.
“The Navy has learned to appreciate the women … for their discipline, their skill, and their contribution to high morale … Our greatest tribute to these women is the request for more WAVES, said Fleet Admiral Ernest King.
The Navy history of female personnel actually dates back to World War I and the Yeoman or “Yeomanettes.”
During WWI, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels sought additional workers after learning that federal Civil Service could not meet the need for clerical support. Since the Naval Reserve Act of 1916 read that any U.S. citizen could join the Navy, Daniels recruited women.
On March 17, 1917, Loretta Perfectus Walsh of Olyphant, Pennsylvania, distinguished herself as the first enlisted woman, forever changing the Navy.
More than 11,000 women joined during WWI, working in naval districts across the United States, particularly in Washington, D.C. While patriotism and the hope of putting an end to the First World War sooner were primary motivations for serving, many women also thought their service would persuade President Woodrow Wilson to support the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
The shortage of clerical workers was so acute that many started their jobs the same day wearing their civilian clothes. Others went home to await their orders. The Navy recruited mothers and daughters, multiple sisters from one family, several sets of twins, and best friends from across the United States and its territories.
A number of Morris County women served in the WAVES and enlisted Navy. The Morris County Board of Freeholders, on behalf of all county residents, salute the women who served.
Here is a list of those from Morris County who were known to serve. If you know of others, please send an email to Jan Williams at [email protected]
Nancy Ann Lynch Castellana
United States Nave WAVES U.S.S. Hunter
Morristown. Deceased 2013
The U.S.S. Hunter was a training facility in the Bronx, former site of Hunter College. The facility proudly boasted its own Naval goat mascot.
Doris L. Charles
Chatham. Deceased 2009
Washington Township. Deceased 2016.
Commissioned as an ensign (and rose to lieutenant) in the Navy Nurses Corps and was ordered to report for duty at the U.S. Naval Hospital at St. Albans, N.Y. She later served as head nurse in the Washington Township (Morris County) schools for many years, and a member of the O’Dowd family, who long owned a West Mill Road dairy farm in the township. The family also had an ice cream bar in Pine Brook, where they originally started farming.
Mary A. Fabbro
Morristown. Deceased 2013.
Pharmacist’s Mate 2 Fabbro was stationed at the Shoemaker Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. She later served at Morristown Memorial Hospital as a chief laboratory medical technician for 33 years.
Florence Beatrix Grattan
Mendham. Deceased 2003.
United States Navy Nurse Corps
Madeline Codina Huebner
Deceased 2011. Interred Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1942, While attending Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, she was recruited into a cryptology class with the promise of three college credits and a position in the Naval Reserves. After passing the course, she took the fast-track 60 day training course to become an ensign in the Reserves. She and other WAVES “kept odd hours in closed rooms and were told not to discuss our work with others.”
Her unit received a commendation for breaking a Japanese communications code before the Battle of Midway, which allowed the U.S. Navy to ambush the Japanese Navy. She achieved the rank of Lt. Commander.
She was schooled as a pharmacist’s assistant at “U.S.S. Hunter” College in N.Y., and from there she trained at a hospital school for the WAVES in Bethesda, Maryland. Her ultimate service was at the US Naval Hospital at Great Lakes, Illinois. She achieved the rank of Pharmacist Mate, 3rd Class.
Helen. who is 96, lives at home in Denville with her World War II veteran husband, Walter Mutz, who served in the Marines. He is 98.
Originally from New York, she resided in Denville from 1967 to 1989. Now age 96, she lives in Pennsylvania.
Evelyn Marie Laverty Tietze
Mine Hill. Deceased 2014
Mrs. Tietze was raised in Mine Hill prior to relocating to Wilmington, Delaware.
Ethel Elizabeth Went
Chatham Township. Deceased 2001.
Thank you to all of the WAVES for your service! Also, we salute all women who served in the enlisted Navy, such as Mary Darter, as well.