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A Rebellious Streak

A Rebellious Streak by Rebecca Nedderman

Helen Horvath served in World War II as an Army WAC from January 1943 until January 1946. Helen was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. She knew a lot of airmen and had two brothers in the military at the time of the war. Helen said, “I was intrigued by the military, the Army. I tried to enlist prior to my 21st birthday, but the recruiter wouldn’t even talk to me.”

Helen enlisted after she turned twenty one. However, it took a rebellious streak for her to enter the service. Her father had very strong objections to his daughter joining up because he was worried about negative labels. Helen’s mother and brothers did not express any opinions. One final hurdle was fainting while waiting in line for her physical. She fell, cut her chin, and had to have stitches. She thought, “Oh God, I’m out. Before I’m ever in, I’m out.’

Helen’s basic training was at Fort Des Moines, Iowa where upon arrival they took away their “civies” and gave them uniforms. Her assignments after basic included both clerical and nursing jobs. While working at Newport News, Virginia she worked with our soldiers going overseas, and with Italian prisoners of war being sent into the U.S.

One Christmas Helen recalls with fondness. She and a friend made stockings for patients and served them wine with lunch. A couple of the guys who were hospitalized had asked Helen to buy a gift for someone at the PX. To her surprise the gift was for her. She still has that gift, a compact, sixty years later.

Some of Helen’s memories of that time have faded, but she remembers being treated well and no differently from the men who were serving. She doesn’t seem to have any regrets about that act of rebellion years ago.

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  October 26, 2011
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