World War II brought a wealth of change to the way the U.S. Army perceived "gender appropriate" roles. In 1941 congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers proposed a bill to bring women into the Army and "answer an undeniable demand from American women that they be permitted to serve their country, together with the men of America, to protect and defend their cherished freedoms and democratic principles and ideals." The need was so urgent that Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall told the War Department, “I want a women’s corps right away, and I don’t want any excuses!”
In 1942, the dire need for manpower called for the creation of the WAAC as an auxiliary entity to help in the Army's war effort, but before long they dropped the auxiliary status and fully joined the ranks as the WAC in 1943. For the first time, women were working outside of the traditional medical capacity and given the same rank, benefits, and pay as male soldiers.
The WAC carefully balanced the traditional idea of femininity with the traditionally masculine identity of the U.S. army. They not only worked clerical jobs but women were now assigned a-typical roles; from mechanics to interpreters, WACs freed men to fight. The American public was not ready to watch their women walk into combat, but the Women's Army Corps paved the way for future generations and advancements of female soldiers.
Q. Are you a part of the military?
A. Most of our members are not currently a part of the military, we are instead living historians with a passion for women in the service. However, there are several members who are either prior service or currently serving.
Q. Where are you guys located?
A. Most of our members are based out of the Los Angeles/Orange County, CA area and we tend to stick to events in Southern California. As much as we'd like to attend out-of-state events, that sort of travel is not within our scope at the moment.
Q. Is this your job?
A. Reenacting is purely a hobby for us, the time and money we spend on events, equipment, and uniforms comes straight out of our members pockets. Believe it or not, we all have regular day jobs!
Q. Where do you find your uniforms?
A. Militaria hunting is a hobby unto itself. When original items are not available, there are many historical reproduction companies that can suit your needs.
Q. What's the difference between WAAC and WAC?
A. WAAC stands for Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, which is what the Corps was called up until 1943 when the Auxiliary status was dropped and they simply became the Women's Army Corps.
Q. Are you guys nurses?
A. The WAC was a completely separate organization from the Army Nurse Corps. The WAC's purpose was to free men to fight, and while medical duties were within the realm of available occupations for the Corps, WAC jobs expanded far beyond that.