SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – This week we meet six female WWII veterans who talked about their experience while serving their country.
It’s easy to see they represent the best in the world.
“It was a time everyone wanted to join…we wanted to make sure we got rid of the worst part of the world,” says Irene Zuckerman a female WWII veteran who served in the Army Nurse Core.
Now in their 80’s and 90’s these women still have adventure in their eyes and a desire to do something different.
All those qualities, necessary for a women in her twenties to enlist in the military 77 years ago.
Helen Ferrar, a WWII Army Nurse describes the first time she left for duty.
“When I got out of basic training I went directly overseas by plane which was unheard of,” Ferrar said. “We were sent to France and as the troops moved forward we followed them.. I was in communications with them. I worked on the switchboard.”
For some like Irene Zuckerman, the military was a change to live out a dream.
“I loved being a nurse,” Zuckerman said. “I always did, ever since I was 7 years old. Nothing else was interesting to me; it was my one goal in life.”
For others, it was a change to break barriers in a field full of men.
At the time, roles for women in the military were reduced to a receptionist or a nurse. Barbara Mayor chose neither.
“I was given the option of being a flight control operator or a meteorologist and I thought, that sounds wonderful and it was,” Mayor said. “We tracked the wind and the direction and did the weather maps. It was very weird, just to be the only female in an all men’s area. You weren’t all that accepted because they thought they were the ones to be the meteorologists and not the females.”
No matter the job they took on during the war at home or overseas, they were pioneers, serving our country, just as well as men. They were originals; making femininity look cool.
One veteran, Deborah Stern, described herself as a tomboy who wanted to take on the difficultly of mastering a big machine.
“I was troop convoy. I drove the big trucks,” Stern explained. “It was a challenge; don’t forget it was double clutch at the time. I drove the ambulance when I had to and I drove the semi-trailer when they needed me.”
In a world where we don’t want our jobs to define us; you meet these special ladies and quickly realize they wouldn’t want to be defined by anything else.
“I did not want an office job. I fought for it,” Stern said. “I had to go through special training because I did not want to sit by a desk. I liked my army life, I wanted to go back but I got married and became pregnant. At that time you couldn’t have a child and be in service. But I hated civilian life, I loved the army.”
Recently the Florida Panthers honored the women at a game where the entire arena stood and cheered for the heroes.
But, if you ask each female veteran, they humbly respond with quite a different answer.
“I don’t feel like a hero,” Ferrar said. “I feel like the people I took care of were the heroes. I feel like the guys in the cemetery should get more honor than me. They gave more than I did.”