This month in March history

On April 24, 1943, two companies of Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, or WAAC, arrived at March Field. The new members of Team March occupied five barracks and operated their own mess hall, orderly room, and supply room--making them self-sufficient. March Field had employed women prior to the arrival of the WAACs, but they had served mostly as nurses or in clerical functions as civilian employees.  These new members of Team March’s total force worked side-by-side with their male counterparts. The officers appointed to lead them, 1st Lt. Martha A. Pinchon, who commanded the new WAAC headquarters unit, and 2nd Lt. Mary C. Herdina, commander of the photographic element, both reported directly to the installation commander.

 

Mary E. Laskey, an aircraft mechanic working in a shop with 28 men at that time, recalled her days on the line at March Field.

 

“I went before the lieutenant and he looked at my record and said, ‘Ah, a school teacher. Wouldn’t you like to go into secretarial work?’ I said, ‘No, I want to be on airplanes.’ So he put me on the line and guaranteed in two weeks I would be back on an office job. I worked on the line—the only WAC with 28 GIs. I pulled sumps. I drained Q-noses. I put in spark plugs. In fact, [I] pulled 60-, 70-, and 100-hour inspections on planes. I worked on B-25s, B-24s, and B-29s. I had to go through B-29 school in thirteen days. I also stayed on the line until V-J day; and on V-J Day, I was left on the platform with one other fellow to pull inspections. The rest of the fellows took off to celebrate. We finished the airplane.

 

On the line I wasn’t treated very courteously as a WAAC. The regular language of a GI was used in my presence, being a WAAC made no difference. I enjoyed being with the GIs. At first they didn’t like me on the line; but later on, when they found out that I could really work right along side of them and do some jobs which their hands couldn’t do, they appreciated having me on the line. Usually a B-29 bucket wheel could be cleaned with my small hand. Women weren’t allowed on engines at first. Later on, they were training WAACs to work on engines as well as the GIs. They respected me later on, knowing that I was a married woman. After I was on, they decided to put some of the single girls on the line and there were ten of us on the line at V-J Day.

 

I really enjoyed life as a WAAC.  I would not give it up for anything. I cherished it. It’s been one milestone in my life.”