Catherine Spruiell: The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) World War II Veteran

Catherine Spruiell didn’t know what to do with her life. At eighteen, she did not feel that she had the education to attend college. WWII had begun, and the nation was in an upheaval. That is when she found the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). She enrolled, and thus began a journey that would change her life and the history of our nation.

Her mother was upset when Catherine told her that she had signed up for the Women’s Army Corps and did not see her off when she set out with her group for the unknown.

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, or WAAC, was begun so that women could be trained to do non-combat jobs, so that more men could fight and end the war sooner. At the time though, women in the armed forces were not widely approved and received criticism for joining. But many women wanted to join the war effort and help their fathers, brothers, and sons any way they could. While they were not officially in the army, they were helping the army.

Women replaced men in many jobs and areas, including plotting and tracing aircrafts, and as clerks, typists, weather observers, cryptographers, radio operators, repair work, parachute riggers, and aerial photography analysts. They worked in the medical field as nurses and surgeons; they mixed gunpowder and loaded shells. They even processed men for assignment overseas, issued weapons, and sorted mail. They became experts in many areas and were able to complete many jobs that would have otherwise tied down a man who could have been fighting at the front. Many women even went overseas and worked valiantly at their crucial posts. Over 150,000 women served in the WAAC.

Catherine Spruiell was frightened of what lay before her, but she was comforted by the fact the she was with many other young women who were just as fearful. She was placed in several locations where she received her basic training before being stationed at Camp Shelby. She worked with trucks, which was not a position she preferred. She would have rather been a nurse, but she accepted her assignment as a contribution to the war effort.

Catherine Spruiell served in the WAAC for two years until it became the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) as an official part of the army, rather than only helping it. She was sworn in again and served another year as a member of the U.S. Army. She had “grown up” during the war years and was still at Camp Shelby when she heard that the conflict had ended. It had been such a good experience, and she had learned so much that she never regretted having gone.

She made it back home by train, and only a week later, a man offered her a job with the Department of Agriculture. She eventually married and had three children.

Catherine Spruiell’s important contribution to the war effort, as well as those of many other women, played a crucial role in the magnificent victory of the most famous war of our time. Hear the story of how a woman fought a war, hundreds of miles away, and helped to bring about a glorious triumph.