Women who served during World War II were honored by Lake County Women's Coalition. At bottom, left are Norma Dilger Colby, Sophia Ninos and Margaret Ward. In back, from left are Mary Jane Lucas, Virginia Rabung and Dorothy Volkert.
Norma Dilger Colby (Niles, formerly of Waukegan) joined the Civil Defense Corps where her first duty was Alarm Operator whereby she was trained to notify military installations in the area that an unidentified aircraft was in the vicinity. Colby rolled bandages to be sent to both the Pacific and European theaters for the American Red Cross and sold war bolds in her neighborhood in Waukegan. She also volunteered at two USOs.
Mary Jane Lucas (Grayslake) was 21 years old when she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACS) and was sent to Fort Des Moines, Iowa, the only training center for women. During basic training she lived with 299 other women in a horse stable for 30 days. Lucas’ jobs included testing all food purchased by the Army making sure it was safe to eat. She also worked in the medical separation center at Fort Sheridan where discharge protocol made sure that men and women were treated equally as they were discharged from their military service on a point system.
Sophia Ninos (Waukegan) joined the Navy and was stationed at Chelsea Naval Hospital in Boston and the hospital at Bethesda, Maryland where she was trained as a Petty Officer Pharmacist Mate. Because of her advanced education and training she was assigned to work with men and women suffering from combat fatigue. During her two years of service one of her highlights was meeting Admiral Bird. Ninos’ sister also served in the Navy as a Dental Hygienist.
Virginia Rabung (d. 2012) joined the Civil Air Corps and served in the 9th Naval District. Her role was serving as a secretary to one of the main officers in charge of securing materials for the war effort. At 93 years of age, she wrote a book about her life in the Civil Air Corp and her many trips throughout the world as a private pilot.
Dorothy Volkert (Antioch) immediately enrolled in The Grace Hospital Nursing School in Detroit following the attack on Pearl Harbor. She then joined the Army Nurse Corps serving on the US Hospital Ship, Charles A. Stafford as 1st Lieutenant.
Margaret "Peggy" Wade (Waukegan) On the very first day that the Navy was opened for female recruits, Margaret Riley enlisted and became WAVE Riley at the age of 22 on September 1, 1942. Initially she was a Yeoman and then went on to Cryptographer School in San Francisco and was assigned to Pearl Harbor for 14 months. She worked for the Commander Air Pacific as clerk/secretary and then encoded messages to be sent to ships and stations throughout the Pacific.
Evelyn Walden (Waukegan) enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps (WACS) in October 1944 at the age of 19 “because I wanted to get away from home.” The work of the WACs was to serve in a noncombatant military job to “free a man for combat." They worked as typists, stenographers, translators, etc, as well as in purchasing offices to keep supplies flowing to the field of combat.
Jean Keehn, (Libertyville) joined the Coast Guard SPARS where she was stationed on the Navy Base at Portsmouth, Virginia where Navy ships, even Russian Navy ships, pulled in to have their radios fixed. One of the first lessons she learned was to take commands and do what she was told to do. “It seems that Jean never heard the command to ‘halt’ because she has been marching to a volunteer’s beat, putting in 20,000 hours of volunteer time at the VA Hospital in North Chicago and has served as Commander of the 10th District American Legion,” added Barbara Richardson.
In closing, Barbara Richardson thanked our Women Warriers for sharing their powerful stories. “Ever so proudly we hail every woman who served in uniform and in other special ways during World War II. We’re proud to write you back into history during Women’s History Month."