LCDR Kathryn Barclay, USN NC

US Navy NC
1942 – 1964

When did you enlist in the Navy and why did you enlist?

LCDR KB: I was 33 when I joined up with the Navy. I signed up in Canton, Illinois. It was 1942. I was working as a nurse at the Graham Hospital in town. I completed my nursing degree at the Graham Hospital Nursing School in 1938. I wanted to get out of town. I was tired of my family trying to marry me off to the first male who came along! My mother never forgave me for enlisting in the Navy.

Would you tell me a little about your duty stations?

LCDR KB: I held nursing Posts in Boulder, Colorado at the University. I went as directed to a specific address. It was the home of a doctor who was on the Board at the University. Both he and his wife were elderly.

At this time all the students were males. The doctor needed help. There weren’t any nurses in town. It took so long for an answer to his request for help to arrive when I showed up he almost forgot someone was coming to help him.  He just didn’t expect a woman in a uniform to show up to help him.

I waited on the porch for two nights because the doctor was out in the rural areas. There weren’t many new people in town and when I came looking for the doctor, the doctor’s wife didn’t want to be alone with me dressed in an Army Uniform. She thought I was going to have guys over every day. It was summer. I slept on her porch right outside her kitchen door without any blankets. She slept in her kitchen and during the night she gave me a cup of tea to warm me. People thought my presence there dressed in a uniform was a joke. Women were not in the service or so they thought!

The Navy also sent me to the University of Colorado in Denver to obtain the Nursing and Institutional Administration Degree. I graduated from this four-year program in two years never earning a grade below 90.

What type of work did you do?

LCDR KB: I worked in operating rooms. The only two town doctors sent me to the hospital and left me there to see the patients saying “if you need us call”! The first time I went into the space there were a couple of men there who needed to talk with some medical person. I was the nurse. When I would call the doctors, they would come over, take care of the patients and go back to surgery. It wasn’t hard work. It was different though!

This town was a little tiny old place. The doctors told me to go out and see the patient in the rural area and decide if they needed to come into the hospital. They had quite a few people coming into town. They started to send patients in as well. I took care of five or six over and over again. It was the beginning of basic nursing care in town.

One day one of the doctors said to me “I’ve got something for you tomorrow morning. I will pick you up at 0830 and don’t wear any fancy clothes!” That was the beginning of another adventure. We would drive to the airfield and fly to different places to provide medical help. We went to the West Coast. We said we went to the North Pole, but we never made it.

I was in the Navy for years. I wrote a few sentences every night about my work and the experiences I had. I dated and signed every entry. I had thirteen three-ring binders filled with notes about my service from when I first joined forward. One day when I visited my mother at home, I left the 13-three-ring binders with her. I thought they were safe with her. I knew she hated my service. I knew she hated me wearing a uniform because good women didn’t wear uniforms. I knew she thought I was a disgrace to her and her family; however, I didn’t think she would destroy my notebooks nor the extra uniforms I left at home.  My mother wanted me to be a lady. My joining the military caused her such anxiety.  LCDR Barclay showed me a watch on her wrist. Her mother gave it to her for her birthday. She said, “It never made me eat like a lady!”

The Navy moved me to many duty stations. I wasn’t married and I didn’t have children. As a result many times the  I was sent to the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth Virginia. I thought it was an important visit, although no one told me what I was to do there. I flew there and sat in a car the entire time. It was crazy.

Is there anything else you would like to share with me?

LCDR KB: On February 9, 2012, nurses from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) joined the Portsmouth Area Nurses Association (Reserve and Active Duty) to celebrate LCDR Kathryn Barclay’s 100th birthday. They celebrated her as one of the oldest living retired Nurse Corps Officers and as a fellow Nurse Corps Officer “who helped pave the way for the rest of us who followed.”

Would you do it again?

LCDR KB: Absolutely! Ive had the best time. I traveled. I was a part of important work and I served my country!

LCDR Barclay served in the Navy as a Nurse from 1942 – 1964. She served during World War II and the Korean War.

LTC Luta Mae (Cornelius) McGrath, USA

I am a U. S. Veteran: Military Women {WWII - Present]
Women Who Serve in Defense of Our Nation


LTC Luta Mae (Cornelius) McGrath, USA (Ret.)
Ordinance Officer
1943 – 1961

As told to me in January 2014

Why did you enlist and where?
LTC McG: I was head of the Selective Service Board in Bayville, Kentucky. I was responsible for sending all the young men into the Army. I decided I wanted to go myself. I enlisted in January 1943.

I went to Basic Training and left for Aberdeen, Texas. I was an enlisted woman in the Ordinance Corps. I was in Aberdeen when the 600 female attachment came to Aberdeen. I was in another division and they pulled me out to be in charge of
the 600 female detachment. My pay-grade jumped to CT4.

Managing the women in the Army was a challenge. I had to educate them in the Personnel Field. Personnel work included record keeping, interviewing and probably assignment recommendations at the station (although I cannot remember for certain). I also, oversaw the ordering of supplies and coordinated with the other functions there including the Commander of the WAC detachment and the Housekeeping Cadre.

Cadre meant the personnel who ran each Detachment. We had Commanders, Platoon Sergeants and Platoon Specialists who worked in the Mess Hall. in Cmdr. Platoon Sergeants. We had a CPT and an EO (LTs.) and a First Sergeant who coordinated training for the women. I liked what I did when I was on that job. It was there I was called to go to Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Lee, Virginia. While there for the 2-3 months of training, I started to get my eyebrows fixed and was instructed how to take better care of my nails.

Could you tell me about some of your duties in Ordinance?
LTC McG: Back then OCS might have been 10-12 weeks long. After OCS I went to a college in Indiana then I came back to Fort Lee. Eight of us went to Texarkana. We went to the Red River Ordinance Depot. It was mostly an ammunition storage site. All of the other officers were gone; they were sent to do other work. I was the only female officer left of the girls.

At the Red River Depot, it was the custom to bury bombs to protect them and keep them safe. The women I served with and I lived about 100 feet from an igloo where the bombs were buried prior to going overseas.

The base had its own own ports. I dover a diesel truck loaded with bombs through Texarkana. We put them onto the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway headed to the ports.

Were there any other memorable duty stations or events you would like to share?
LTC McG: I left Texarkana in 1947. I went to Europe and was assigned to Griesheim Ordinance Depot in West Germany. I also worked in the chemical building in Frankfurt.
During this time Russia put a blockade through half of Berlin that was the Russian Section of the city. The wall was to separate the American, French and British soldiers from the Russian Section of the City. There was only one train a week and it left on Saturday. Once the Wall went up the General Commanding Officer of our troops in Europe moved to Heidelberg, Germany.

I stayed in Germany until 1949. Women stayed overseas for two (2) years. Men went home after one year. The reason: men had their families. Commanding officers were hesitant to put men behind the Zone. Again the men had their families. The men were sent them down from Berlin. Only the women and the single people went up to the zone. I was sent behind the zone. During Berlin Airlift it was a very tense time. I worked with munitions in the planning, handling and storage of airlift ammunition into West Berlin where it was stockpiled. I came home in 1949 after spending two years in Germany.

I came back to Ft. Lee. I worked as Staff Secretary at the Army Ordnance Corps School at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen Maryland. When the job was finished the moved me back to the Women’s Army Corps. I married a man seven years younger than me. He was an Ordinance Officer as well. We were married in Aberdeen.

I retired in 1961. I served 18 years one month and two days of actual service but my age made me get retirement. I already had a waiver to serve longer than the normal age limit. I was older when joined the Army. At this time, women were all reservists and 20-years was the limit.

My detail to the Ordinance Corps was considered essential. Essential meant it was established in regulations. The Army had a “hey wait we needed some of these people. If they wanted to stay on and headquarters wanted them and they were dedicated and wanted to stay on in the military they did; however, the legislation created for women to serve was duration of the war + 6 months.” Some hung on when they wanted permanent parts of the service. Many were glad they did. Jobs were difficult for the women to get. The men got the jobs.

LTC McGrath was the first women inducted Ordinance Hall of Fame. She is famous for saying “I was just doing my job. There weren’t many military women who served in Berlin at the airlift. It was occupation until the wall came down.”

Would you recommend young women join the military?
LTC McG: Yes, I would recommend young women joining the military. It’s a good career if they want to make it that. I also think the Army is a good advertisement.

Would you do it again?
LTC McG: I would do it again.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
LTC McG: I’ll tell you a story
“When I was in Berlin we all had big houses. I had a great big house. I shared it with some of the other WACs. Two WAC officers had brand new cars and they couldn’t bring them into Berlin.

It so happened on this one Thursday of that year, the Autobahn was open and the blockade was lifted. Our headquarters were in Berlin and in Heidelberg. I offered to drive the car to her. One of the WAC officer had her car released to me and they gave me a five- gallon can of gasoline. I was told if I ran out of gas I was on my own. They said a bridge was out in the Brandenburg and to be careful.

As I came close to Brandenburg I paid attention to see if the bridge was out. I was unable to make the determination and I didn’t know what to do. I found an American Engineer sign (Big Black/Gold Sign) and I went to the sentries who asked where was I driving to. I said Berlin.

They said go up this dirt road and I drove the way they told me to and I never did see the Autobahn again. I saw a sign to Potsdam and I knew I was okay. It was a two lane dirt road. I never needed the extra five-gallons of gasoline. I gave it to the WAC whose car I drove.”

“My secret to staying young is a baby aspirin a day; and at four o’clock every day have a glass of Zinfandel.”

LTC Luta Mae (Cornelius) McGrath, USA (Ret.) died April 14, 2016 at the age of 108.

Lt. Susan Ahn Cuddy, USN

WWII Veterans-3

Lt. Susan Anh Cuddy, USN
1942 – 1946

Susan Anh Cuddy was the daughter of a Korean National Hero (Dosan Chang Ho and Helen Ahn). Her father raised awareness of the many issues Korean-American immigrants faced in Southern California with the U. S. government during her childhood. Susan developed her father’s passion for the Korean-American community early in her life. She also understood the need for education and the need to protect and defend our nation’s freedoms and its way of life.

She went to Cal-State at San Diego and earned a degree in Speech Pathology. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, Susan went to enlist “to fight the Japanese”. Her enlistment application was rejected because of her race. Susan felt that was okay because she other plans. Susan loved baseball. Her other plan was to play professional baseball. She was discussing how to achieve this goal when she received notice she was eligible for the U. S. Navy’s WAVE Enlistment Program.
Although she was disappointed she couldn’t be an officer, Susan was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the war effort. “Joining the Navy gave me the opportunity to be a good American during a critical time in our nation’s history” Susan said.

Susan was the first Asian-American woman invited to join the WAVES. She accepted the enlisted position and later became an officer in the USN in its first 100-class of female officers.

Susan served in the capacity of “firsts” across her USN career and her life. She was the first female officer to attend “Gunnery School”. She was the first female Link Trainer in the armed forces. In this capacity she trained pilots and crew how to use dog-fight maneuvers to escape enemy planes.

Susan attained the rank of Lieutenant while serving as the first Asian-American Intelligence Officer. She was the first female to supervise over 300 Russian scholars in the Naval Security Agency.

The code of conduct that Susan Anh Cuddy lived her life to involved “not forgetting your community, obtain an education and service in defense of our freedoms is critical to keeping freedoms alive” She not only was shaped by her years of service in the Navy, Susan Anh Cuddy helped shaped the future of women’s roles in the armed services.

LT. Susan Ahn Cuddy, USN WAVES died on June 24, 2015. She was 100 years old.

Joan De Munbrun, USA



US Army – WAC
1942 – 1945

My mother died when I was thirteen and I went to live with my Aunt. When I was 15 I worked part-time at a summer camp. I saved my money and hitchhiked to Minneapolis to go to beauty school. I knew there were women in Minneapolis who could afford to get their hair done. I opened my own beauty store when I was twenty. I didn’t have more than an eighth grade education. I learned all I could learn from my customers. They were teachers, professors and other professionals.

After December 7, 1941, all the men – the husbands, uncles, sons went into the service. The fiancé of one of my clients was one of the first soldiers killed. It was very difficult to hear of all the deaths.

I heard they were taking women. I went and signed into the Army. I served for three years. It was not all easy either. I received an early assignment at the AT6 Flying School.

My job was a photographer. I had to develop negatives for pictures of WWII pilots completing successful training sessions and missions as well I photographed planes that crashed. I photographed young men who died. I was originally sent to Eagle Pass Army Airfield in Texas. Eagle Pass is near the Mexican Border. I requested to work in the field and did so for 18 months. We had to take photos of the crashed planes and the boys who were the casualties. There were 9 dead every 13 weeks. It was very difficult.

I was transferred to Denver, CO where I taught men the aerial photography to the solders. They had to learn the operation and mechanics of aerial cameras. We were sent pictures of war. I had to show the boys the gun cameras and the war photos because that’s how we trained them.

I was then transferred back to Texas and lived in a woman’s camp. I was assigned to the men. I taught the men again.

For three years the Army told me what to wear, what to do, when to go to bed and when to wake up. All of my decisions were made by the Army. Transitioning to civilian life was difficult mainly because I had to think for myself and make decisions again. I served from 1942 to 1945.

I became involved in the American Legion and participated in American Legion events for 67 years.

Absolutely I would do it all again. It was difficult and I saw more war than most women saw; but I served and I did a good job.

Miss Joan De Munbrun died on 2 NOV 2014. She was 101 years of age.

Virginia I. Myers, USA


1942 – 1946

I enlisted in the Army WAC in August of 1942 in Lima Ohio. “I went in as soon as it opened up to women.” My service number is A500117. The 117 shows I was the 117th woman to enlist from the five state area where I lived.

I went to Basic Training in Des Moines, Iowa.

I served in Portland, Maine at the Air Force Filter Center in November 1942.

I was stationed at Camp Polk in Louisiana in 1943.

Then I was permanently assigned to the Third Student Training Regiment of the Infantry Officer Candidate School in the Harmony Church Area at Fort Benning, Georgia. I took photographs of all who graduated from the school.

I never went overseas. I also played baseball and basketball at Fort Benning, Georgia. We had the best team in the area and we traveled to compete.”

While at Fort Benning, Georgia, I began collecting WWII patches from the different guys who passed through the area. Sometimes the uniforms were being thrown out and I asked to have the patches. The patch collection grew and Miss Myers began adhering them to a sheet. Miss Myer’s collection of WWII Patches is the most inclusive WWII patch collection in the US. Miss Myers also had her WAC uniform and the pill box hat she had to wear.

Yes, I would do it all again! I had the best time and I served our country.

Miss Virginia I. Myers died on 8 NOV 2012.

Catharine B. Deitch, USA

Armed Services Retirement Home.06.02.2011-21Staff Sgt. Catharine B. Ditch, USA WAAC & WAC

We were on our honeymoon when Pearl Harbor was bombed. My husband picked me up and started singing “America is going to war”! It was 1942.

We returned home and began to put our affairs in order. I enlisted in Harrisburg, PA and was schedule to report for active duty on December 30, 1942. My husband was scheduled to report for duty in early January 1943. He stood on the train platform and waved good bye to me as I was shipped off to basic training. He always teased me about that!

Basic training was at Daytona Beach, FL. I was an administrative specialist. I worked in Boston for 15 months serving at the 103rd AAF Base Headquarters. From there I  was sent to Bradley Field, CN to Fort Oglethorpe, GA and then on a troop train to Riverside, CA. We were preparing to go overseas. We went to the India-Burma Theater.

I was one of 113 women on the USS General E. Anderson.  Our ship had to zigzag across the Pacific Ocean to avoid being hit by enemy submarines. From September until October 1944 we were on the ocean traveling to Bombay, India. We stopped in Melbourne, Australia to restock and refuel the ship.

Once we got to India, we lived in a huge jute mill the Army converted into living quarters for the women.  We were telephone operators, cooks, medical staff and held other duties as well. We were offered the opportunity to see a number of places including – the Taj Mahal, Mt. Everest and, Darjeeling.

At the end of October 1945, we sailed from Karachi, Pakistan on the USS Callan through the Suez Canal back to New York City. We were then bussed to Camp Shanks and onto Fort Dix, NJ. I separated at Fort Dix, NJ.

I met one of the women I went to the India-Burma Theater with here at the Armed Services Retirement Home. Her name is Miriam Rivkin. We had a grand reunion.

We served at the WAC Det First Sergeant at Headquarters AAF India Burma Theatre, Calcutta, India.

I would do it again – absolutely in a heart beat!

Staff Sgt. Catharine B. Deitch served from 1942 – 1945.

Lucy (Phillips) Pugh, USCG

I am a U. S. Veteran:

Command Master Chief L. Cale-Jones, Deputy Master Chief Petty Officer, USCG (L); Lucy (Phillips) Pugh, SPAR (C) and RADM Cari B. Thomas, USCG (R), Alameda, California

I was born in Bennett, North Carolina. In 1940 I graduated from high school. I began working at the cotton mills in Coleridge and Robbins, North Carolina.

I was looking to do something different. I wanted to get out of town. I enlisted in the USCG as a SPAR in Lexington, North Carolina. I enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard in 1943.

I attended basic training in West Palm Beach, Florida. My first duties were maintenance work in a machine shop in St. Louis, MO. I was transferred to sentry duty at our barracks in January 1944. I also did work as a switchboard operator and as an elevator operator.

In the Fall of 1944, I was transferred to the 9th District USCG Headquarters. I performed the same duties there as in St. Louis, MO.

I was discharged in the summer of 1945.

Serving as a SPAR was one of the best things I did. I would do it again.

Lucy (Phillips) Pugh died in 2014.