The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, November 11, 2021 1:00 am

Nov. 1 and Dec. 7, 1948: First local women Army, Air Force enlistees sworn in for permanent, regular service

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

In the fall of 1948, several women from the area became the first to enlist in the Regular Women's Army Corps and Women's Air Force.

The enlistments came after President Harry S. Truman signed into law the Women's Armed Services Integration Act on June 12, 1948. It permitted women to serve as permanent, regular members of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.

On Nov. 1, Joan Beverly Houser, 21 of Fort Wayne; Marjorie Lou Gallaway, 21 of Fort Wayne; and Helen L. McPhearson, 20 of Wabash, were sworn in to the WAC. They left the next day for basic training at Camp Lee in Virginia.

On Dec. 7, Marjorie Lea Jellison was sworn in to the WAF and left for Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Capt. A.P. Shervin, commanding officer of the local Army and Air Force Recruiting Station, was the officer swearing in all four women.

Women in the WAC had been given full service status during World War II, but that legislation was to expire in 1948.

To suggest a date or subject for History Journal, email Corey McMaken at cmcmaken@jg.net.

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"First Three WAC Enlistees Leave Today" (Nov. 2, 1948)

Three young women from Fort Wayne and the area, the first to enlist in the Regular Women's Army Corps from here, are scheduled to leave today for Camp Lee, Va., to begin training.

They are Joan Beverly Houser, 21 of Fort Wayne; Marjorie Lou Gallaway, 21 of Fort Wayne; and Helen L. McPhearson, 20 of Wabash.

The three recruits will be given 10-weeks basic training at Camp Lee. Upon completion of the initial training period, the women may then be sent to schools for specialized training in fields such as medical technician, communications, administration, finance, food service, radio or photography.

In accordance with an act signed by President Truman last June, the Women's Army Corps became a part of the regular military forces for the first time in history.

Women between the ages of 18 and 35 may apply for enlistment in either the Women's Army Corps or the Women's Air Force. Those who qualify may sign up for two to six years in the WACS or from three to six years in the WAFS.


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