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Mississippi Moments Podcast

After fifty years, we've heard it all. From the horrors of war to the struggle for civil rights, Mississippians have shared their stories with us. The writers, the soldiers, the activists, the musicians, the politicians, the comedians, the teachers, the farmers, the sharecroppers, the survivors, the winners, the losers, the haves, and the have-nots. They've all entrusted us with their memories, by the thousands. You like stories? We've got stories. After fifty years, we've heard it all.
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Now displaying: Page 1
Jan 9, 2017
MSM 509 Irene Smith - The Navy WAVES during WWII

Irene Smith was 17 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. As her older brother prepared to go off to fight for his country, Smith began to search for some way she too could serve during this time of national crisis.  When the women’s branch of the U. S. Naval Reserve, known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) was established in July of 1942, she went to the recruiting office to enlist, but was turned away because the minimum age at that time was 20.

In this episode, Smith recalls biding her time until she met the age requirement by going to business school, working nights in a factory and picking up shifts at the local five and dime. When she was finally old enough to join, Smith trained as a mechanic.  She explains that although women were allowed to perform many important jobs during WWII, old sexist attitudes remained. Smith details how gender bias affected her role as an aviation machinist’s mate. She also looks back fondly at the Chief Petty Officer they called Pappy Vaughn.

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