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Veteran Joan F. Hughes

Pharmacy Mate 2nd Class · Navy WAVE · United States Navy · 1943-1945

 


By the time Joan Fowler-Hughes was 21 years old, she had graduated from high school as well as college. She was seriously involved with a man who was a college graduate as well as a pilot… and deployed to the theater of war in Europe. The man was killed in action.

Joan was grief-stricken. The best thing she felt she could to do keep his memory alive was to try to take his place in service to the country.

Joan and a college friend decided to join the ranks of the Navy’s WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). The WAVES were established by law to relieve the officers and enlisted sailors from shore duty so they could join their comrades on ships. As the WAVES were established, officers had to be selected first and sent to training at Smith College at North Hampton, Massachusetts. Next, the training for the enlisted female sailors took place mainly at Hunter College, in the Bronx, NYC.

These women were trailblazers! Joan was among the first classes engaging in this program. At Hunter College, the women were introduced to the military and Navy history, customs and courtesies, issued stylish uniforms (and how to wear them properly), marched, performed calisthenics, and learned whom to salute and whom not to. Joan, not being a “morning person” got the opportunity to change her schedule around quite a bit!

Their formal uniforms were dark blue. Another uniform was seer-sucker material, and whites. Just pretty spiffy! Payday came around every month and Joan earned her $21.00 each time. She did not have any allocations for her dollars… she kept it.

Joan graduated from the Hunter College (boot camp) assignment. The Navy personnel unit recognized that she had college classes in the sciences. Because this was in her background, Joan was sent on to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Bethesda, Maryland for her next training piece. She was there for several months.

Joan was performing ward duty in the hospital and she received orders to the Naval hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She continued to do her duties in a highly efficient manner. She was requested to return to the hospital in Bethesda, and on arrival, things had changed.

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