WAVES of the Navy,
There’s a ship sailing down the bay.
And she won’t slip into port again
Until that Victory Day.
Carry on for that gallant ship
And for every hero brave
Who will find ashore, his man-sized chore
Was done by a Navy WAVE.
WAVES official song
Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service = WAVES
Although many women had served in the U.S. Navy during WWI, very few remained on active duty when the USA became involved in WWII.
In July 1942 the U.S. Navy began accepting a large number of enlisted women, as well as female Commissioned Officers to supervise them.
Unlike the original Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) which served with the Army, not in it, the WAVES were officially part of the U.S. Navy and received the same pay and military discipline as the USN men. Also unlike the WAAC, the WAVES did not accept African-American women into the division until 1944.
Women in the WAAC achieved similar status as WAVES in July 1943 with the creation of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).
By 1943, there were 27,000 WAVES. Although many did clerical work, some served in the fields of aviation, medicine, communications, intelligence, storekeeping, science and technology.
Initially, WAVES could not serve aboard combat ships or aircraft, and were restricted to duty in the continental United States. In the late stages of WWII World War II, they served in some U.S. possessions and Hawaii.
Although the word “emergency” implied that women would serve only under the unusual circumstances of WWII, women gained permanent status in all armed services of the United States in 1948 .