Jan. 26, 1943
County’s First WAAC, Miss Florence Doolen, Writes of Training
(Editor’s note: The following article was written at the request of The Salem Republican by Miss Florence Doolen, Kinmundy, first Marion County girl to become a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACS). Miss Doolen for the past five months has been in training at Des Moines, Iowa, recently being transferred to the 89th Headquarters company, 3rd WAAC training center, Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. She participated last month in the sixth month anniversary of the opening of the first WAAC training center in Fort Des Moines.
By Miss Florence Doolen
Special to The Salem Republican
FORT OGLETHORPE, Ga., Jan 25 - Basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, consisted of four strenuous weeks of hut, two, three, four; column right, march; to the right flank, left flank, about fact; and so forth, as well as classes and physical training.
I was assigned to the Motor Corps, completed an eight weeks course, and was an assistant instructor until I was sent to Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., with the Headquarters Company. We left Des Moines on New Year’s Day.
Since then I have been transferred to the classification office and I am very much interested in my work there. We were sent here to set up a WAAC training center which is to open February 1st. They are preparing to house 10,000 WAACs at this post.
In my estimation Fort Oglethorpe is an ideal place for a camp. It is only ten miles from Chattanooga and is at the foot of the Smokey Mountains. Many are especially interested in this place because it was the battlefield on which their grandfathers fought in the Civil War days.
Southern Hospitality No Myth
We find the southern hospitality no myth. We are welcomed at every hand. Individuals as well as civic and church organizations have planned luncheons and socials for our enjoyment. We surely appreciate these invitations.
A WAAC training center can be compared to a small community. Recruits from almost every walk of civilian life are represented here and they come from every state in the Union. There are doctors, lawyers, policewomen, housewives, office workers, teachers, opera stars, drivers, entertainers, artists, newspaper people, and some have no special training but each find this her place, and an important place it is, too; all are assembled for the one great mission to help where and whenever we can to win this war.
Now something about our daily life. We get up a 6 a.m. and stand reveille at 6:30, make our bunks and clean the barracks, perform any special duties that may be assigned. We drill three mornings a week, go to work at 8 o’clock and have a full schedule throughout the day. To me the most impressive part of the whole army daily routine is the standing of retreat.
No Wishy-Washy Affair
This business of being a WAAC is no wishy-washy affair. You see no glamour girls in the WAACS. They are hard-working women in olive-drab uniforms. The days are filled with hard work, but after those hours and a good evening meal at 5:15 (and WAACS develop a wonderful appetite), come the hours of relaxation. The girls spend these hours very much like the men do - in writing letters to the friends and family back home, going to the Post movies, or by gathering around the piano for a little music and getting acquainted with other members of the group. Lights are out at 9:30 and bed check at 10:45 p.m., when we must be in bed.
There are some 15,000 WAACS enrolled in the organization now, and a number of companies have already been sent to various army camps where they replace men for combat duty.
Our ratings, which will compare with army ratings, have not been published as yet, though in a great many cases a rating has been earned and the enrollee is fulfilling the duties of that rank. We here have been promised that the ratings will be announced and awarded soon.
On Wednesday of this week we observed the sixth month anniversary of the opening of the first WAAC training center at Fort Des Moines. Here at Fort Oglethorpe we had a special parade and review with film and camera men on hand for some special release pictures. It was a thrilling day.
There is much to said about the WAACs, their aim, their ambitions, as well as our daily life. Our aim is success in battle and our purpose is to replace men behind the lines so that they can be used in actual combat duty.