Women of Steamboat who served in World War II and Korea
Records show that 20 women from the Steamboat Springs area served in the military in World War II and Korea.
Among those whose later lives are well known were: Army 1st Lt. Sylvia Boggs; Gwendolyn (Turner) Cary, U.S. Army Corps in Belgium; Wilma “Willie” Daniels, U.S. Coast Guard; Marie C. Fitzgerald, flight nurse in the Army Air Corps; Adele M. Hain, Navy flight nurse during the Korean War; Bill (her given name) Henning, U.S. Army; 2nd Lt. Willa “Gerry” Johnson, Army nurse in England; Dorothy May, Women’s Army Corps; and Naval officer Lois Robinson.
Steamboat Springs The role women have served in the military since the American Revolution was at the forefront Monday as more than 250 people gathered in a chill wind at Steamboat Springs Cemetery for traditional Memorial Day observances.
“This is the first time we’ve ever honored the women of the Armed Forces in this ceremony we have, and it’s long overdue,” American Legion Chaplain Bob Printy said. “Women have served since the beginning of our country.”
He told the story of Revolutionary War hero Capt. Molly Corbin, who took command of an artillery company at Fort Washington outside New York City when it was attacked by British forces.
“When her husband was killed she became post commander, and Capt. Molly was the first woman to receive a military pension,” Printy told the gathering.
Memorial Day services are devoted to those soldiers who have lost their lives on the battlefield, and American Legion Commander Buck Buckland said that as long two military comrades remain alive, generations of Americans would gather on a special day to honor those who have put on a military uniform to defend their way of life.
Steamboat native and Air Force veteran Stacey Anderson said her decision to enlist was a spontaneous one, but it turned out to be one of the best she ever made.
Anderson said she had always wanted to travel abroad. Living in Denver as a young woman of 18 she was driving down Colfax Avenue one day when she decided to enlist in the Air Force, almost on the spur of the moment.
“I was so young, I didn’t realize the lasting impact of that decision at the time,” she said.
On Monday, she proudly held tight an Air Force flag that threatened to take off in the stiff breeze.
As a buck sergeant (a rank that no longer exists in the Air Force), Anderson worked in health care administration throughout her military career, first in personnel with the 97th Strategic Air Command in Blytheville, Ark., and later in medical resource management for three years with the 81st Tactical Fighter Command at Bentwater RAF in England.
It was during that time that she traveled to France, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as to other countries.
“This is not about me today,” Anderson said. “It’s about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. I’m privileged to be a part of the American Legion and to participate.”
Members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and Boy Scouts Troop 194 also took part in Monday’s ceremony.
The Jewel Singers, including Rosa Lawton, Pam Pierce, Laura Frey, Jody Condi and Jeanne Fitzsimmons, sang the national anthem, “Over the Rainbow” and “God Bless America.”
Maureen Hogue and Paul Draper, with Hogue accompanying on 12-string guitar, sang “America the Beautiful.”
Printy read the names of nine Routt County women with distinguished military careers in World War II and the Korean War. He said it wasn’t until World War II that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt formally acknowledged women as active members of the military. In that war, 400 American servicewomen lost their lives and 90 were held as prisoners of war, he said.
“Of course, more than 8 million women went to working in factories in World War II so their husbands could go to war,” Printy added.
“I think it’s important to honor them,” Anderson said after the ceremony.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com