What is the Women’s Army Corps (WAC)?

What are the WAC?

Aunt Marian spent almost 20 years in the Women’s Army Corps—from late 1944 to early 1964.

The WAC evolved across the years–and it was disbanded in 1978, when the male and female units of the army were integrated–, but this description of the WACs in a 1944 recruiting publication called 73 Questions and Answers About the WAC provides a nice description of the organization she joined.

 

27 thoughts on “What is the Women’s Army Corps (WAC)?”

    1. It’s actually really interesting to read the history of the WACs. And, even though it seems very backwards today–I think that it was considered at least somewhat forward thinking at the time. In 1942 an auxiliary organization was founded called the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). The women who joined that organization were not considered part of the actual army and did not get the same benefits. In 1943 it was converted to the Women’s Army Corp and became part of the army; and women got the same benefits–which many men found really upsetting since they felt like they were risking their lives on the front and the women weren’t. I guess issues can be framed lots of different ways. 🙂

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    1. I’ve got to see that movie! I’ve heard of it, but haven’t seen it. I did recently watch an old Cary Grant movie called I was a Male War Bride. It was pretty bad. Grant plays a Frenchman who marries an American WAC, He needed to pretend that he was a woman do that he can get on the ship that is transporting him and his wife to the US.

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    1. In the US military personnel can retire after 20 years. Aunt Marian had a heart attack or stroke after 19 years–and was forced to take a medical discharge a few months prior to reaching retirement. My understanding is that she was really bummed.

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  1. It’s interesting how vague they are about what WACs actually do. What are these tasks “more easily done by a woman than a man” anyway? I guess we’re going to find out!

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    1. There was a lot of political and social resistance to having women in the military at that time–and a lot of angst about what kinds of work women should do . It’s absolutely incredible how much the role of women has changed over the past 70 years.

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  2. In 1978 I went to sign up for the WAC corp and was told they are not part of the regular army, I was excited to know I would have the normal basic training and be a part of the Army as a soldier. Little did I know that before I was to go for my physical I would fall in love and marry my husband who re-enlisted and instead of a soldier I became an Army wife. This is why I know I will feel a kinship with your aunt.

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  3. What strikes me more than anything is the call to commitment that was being made in those recruiting ads and posters. No one asks anything of us as citizens any more — not as they did then. My mother was a “Rosie the Riveter,” and like so many women who went to the factories, she was eager to join the war effort, in order to free up the men to fight.

    My sense of things is that our nation has reached the point of being incapable of mobilizing as they did then: as a nation. One of these days, we’re going to find out. I hope I’m wrong.

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    1. I always feel sad that Aunt Marian was forced to leave the military just shy of 20 years for health reasons. In general she found the WACs so rewarding that it seems like she somehow should have been able to retire from it.

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