Collection Highlights—Focus on World War II

During World War II, almost 400,000 women served at home and overseas in Europe, North Africa and the Far East. They served with the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and civilian relief organizations.

Collections of the Women's Memorial Foundation reflect the diversity and impact of their contribution to the national defense during World War II.

Highlights of a few representative collections from this era follow. Contact our collection curators for information about conducting research among our collections.

Naomi Steed, American Red Cross
Theresa Crowley, WAVES, SPARS
Nona (Hambright) Vay, Navy Nurse Corps
Martha Wayman Neal, WAAC/WAC
Audrey Oliver Guntermann, Army Medical Services


Naomi Louise Steed
American Red Cross
November 1944 to October 1945

Naomi Steed attended Elon College and worked at a state school for the deaf. Steed served at service clubs at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Seymour Johnson Field in Goldsboro, North Carolina and then joined the American Red Cross in November 1944. She sailed to England in February 1945 and transferred to Munich, Germany in August 1945. She was killed in an airplane crash, cause unknown, in Italy on October 30, 1945. At the time of her death, she was 32 years old and engaged to be married.

The collections include personal letters and V-mails written by Naomi Steed to her family while she was serving overseas, official correspondence from the American Red Cross to Steed's family after her death, a newspaper clipping from Steed's hometown newspaper about her death, photographs from England in 1945, and her American Red Cross service medal. Gifts of Warren Steed, 1996

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Teresa M. Crowley
US Navy Women's Reserve (WAVES)
October 1942 to November 1942
US Coast Guard Women's Reserve (SPARs)
November 1942 to August 1946

Commander Teresa M. Crowley joined the US Navy Women's Reserve (WAVES) in October 1942 and when the US Coast Guard Women's Reserve (SPARs) was created in November 1942, Crowley transferred from the Navy, as did most of the first SPARs. She was in the first group of women to attend the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut for training. Crowley's first tour of duty was traveling to mid-western colleges to recruit 200 enlisted WAVES who would be willing to leave the Navy for the SPARs. She later served as the senior SPAR officer at the United States Naval Training Station, the Bronx, and then as senior SPAR officer and later Executive Officer of the United States Coast Guard Training Station, Palm Beach, Florida. When Congress authorized naval reserve women (WAVES, Women Marines and SPARs) to serve overseas (Hawaii and Alaska) in September 1944, Crowley became the first SPAR assigned to permanent duty at the US Coast Guard Headquarters, 17th District, Ketchikan, Alaska.

Collection includes Teresa Crowley's World War II SPAR service uniform; dog tags; service medals; photographs including SPARs training at Palm Beach, and of SPARs Director, Captain Dorothy Stratton; newspaper clipping of Captain Dorothy Stratton's SPARs second anniversary greeting; handbook, "General Training Course for SPARs;" book, "Three Years Behind the Mast: The Story of the United States Coast Guard SPARS;" SPARs 50th Anniversary reunion booklet; and memory book from the 1991 SPAR Recognition Day, "A Look Back: The United States Coast Guard Women's Reserve." Gift of Thomas Hogan, 1996.

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Nona (Hambright) Vay
US Navy Nurse Corps
January 1941 to October 1947

Lieutenant Commander Nona Vay joined the Navy in January 1941 and was discharged in October 1947 because she married. She was first assigned to the US Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Vay's naval nursing career included duty at the US Naval hospitals in Key West, Florida; Brooklyn, New York; Mare Island, California; at the US Naval Dispensary in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; and on board the hospital ship, USS Bountiful in the South Pacific. The USS Bountiful, formerly the troop ship USS Henderson, included one of the few blood banks on board a Navy ship and cared for casualties of the Marianas invasions, Peleliu landing, Philippines campaign, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The collection includes a cruisebook for the USS Bountiful; itinerary of the Bountiful from her commissioning (23 March 1944) to war's end (14 August 1945); newsletters from the Bountiful; personal scrapbook with travel journal, newsletters, news clippings, cards and other memorabilia organized by location; and photographs including interior views of the USS Bountiful (X-ray, wards, pharmacy, laboratory, etc.), Navy nurses and crew of the Bountiful, on board ship, and off duty in the South Pacific. Gift of Nona Hambright Vay, 1999.

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Martha (Wayman) Neal
Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) December 1942 to September 1943
Women's Army Corps (WAC) September 1943 to September 1946 and September 1950 to March 1952

Captain Martha (Wayman) Neal enlisted in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on 7 December 1942 and served throughout the Southwest Pacific Area (Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines) during World War II. Neal was one of the first seven WAC officers assigned to Japan during the occupation (1945-1946) and worked in both the military and civilian censorship offensive offices. She transferred to the Reserve in September 1946 and was recalled to active duty in September 1950. Neal's subsequent duties included recruiting in Panama City, Florida, where she was stationed near her husband whom she married in 1951.

The collections include Neal's Royal portable typewriter in case; service records and awards; Neal's mess kit and canvas rucksack; numerous photographs of Neal and other WACs in Australia and Japan; news clippings about WACs in Australia and the Southwest Pacific Area, Japan and from Neal's service as a recruiter; and maps, booklets and other memorabilia from Japan. Gifts of Darwina L. Neal, 2000 and 2002.

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Audrey (Oliver) Guntermann
Army Medical Services

Audrey (Oliver) Guntermann joined the Army Medical Specialist Corps in August 1943 as a dietician. She was stationed in the United States and the European and Pacific theaters, including North Africa, Naples, Italy, and Okinawa, Japan, with the 118th Station Hospital. She was awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the American Campaign Medal.

The collection includes several pieces of her uniforms, six photographs, many news clippings and issues of newspapers and magazines, her service records and orders, a large amount of correspondence, an ID card, buttons, insignia, language guides, and hospital memos. Of special note are an "Eisenhower" or "Ike" style uniform jacket, Lt. Oliver’s diary chronicling parts of her life from early 1943 to the middle of 1946, original issues of the Mediterranean edition of Stars and Stripes, and her World War II Victory Medal.
Gifts of George Guntermann – 1996, 1997, and 1999.

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