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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.

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Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation... this was a people's war and everyone was in it

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Oveta Culp Hobby

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Did You Know?

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