Before WWII, the concept of women in uniform (other than nurses) was not well accepted by the U.S. public, Army or the Navy. However, facing a two front war, military & political leaders, and eventually the public, came to the realization that women were an important resource for both industrial and military sectors. Modeled after comparable British units, the U.S. Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was created in July 1942.
>150,000 women served in the WAC during WWII. The average WAC officer candidate was 25 years old, had attended college, and was working as an office administrator, executive secretary, or teacher. The average WAAC auxiliary (enlisted person) was slightly younger, with a high school education and less work experience. Black women officer candidates (with similar educational and work experience as whites) attended the same classes and mess hall, but were placed in a separate platoon and provided segregated post facilities such as service clubs, theaters, and beauty shops.
WACs were assigned duties such as: weather observers and forecasters, cryptographers, radio operators and repairmen, sheet metal workers, parachute riggers, link trainer instructors, bombsight maintenance specialists, aerial photograph analysts, and control tower operators. They computed the velocity of bullets, measured bomb fragments, mixed gunpowder, and loaded shells. Others worked as draftsmen, mechanics, and electricians, and some received training in ordnance engineering.
While most WACs served stateside, some went to various places around the world, including Europe, North Africa, and New Guinea. WACs landed on Normandy Beach just a few weeks after the initial invasion.