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Veteran Beverly J. Webb

Sergeant First Class · Women’s Army Corps · 1961-1964 · 1978-2001

 


In May 1964, Beverly Webb graduated from Sheridan, Wyoming High School. The following month, she enlisted in the United States Army. She knew that she wanted to get as much schooling in accounting as she could get. The Army offered her some great training and a skill. “Sign me up!”

At that time, female enlistees had to be twenty-one years old to enlist without parental permission, but her parents signed on saying the Army had their permission to train their daughter. The U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy were also interested in this prospect because she grew up on a ranch and knew how to make things work – especially mechanical things.

She passed all the tests including the physical and was sent on to Fort McLellan, Alabama – the only women’s training place in the Army. She arrived by aircraft. A taxi took her and a couple of other young ladies to the military post.

They were greeted by female Drill Sergeants. (From that day until they graduated, they never saw a man!) Beverly said that basic training for women was much different than it was for men in those days. Once there were enough female recruits on hand, they formed up a Company. They were evaluated for length of hair...as long as it didn’t touch the collar, they were good.

Next, let’s get uniforms and clothing. Particular attention was paid to the fit of the clothing. It had to be just so...or close to it. At the time, this was very important. The young trainees were then marched to a building that looked like most of the other buildings there. It was a cinder-block barracks. Their cots were aligned individually, not stacked. The female recruits were assigned alphabetically, one side then the next.

The basic training consisted of post-high school subjects of history and English. They learned to do some marching and some drill and ceremonies, but in a tacit mode, so to speak. They were trained in how to be a lady. They were instructed how to put on make up; how to present themselves; how to correctly wear the uniform; etc. Their mission was no to go to the fight, but to relieve the male soldiers occupying positions so the male soldiers could join the fight.

In their living quarters, they 30 young soldiers were taught the military way of making a bed and keeping things very clean. The bay they were assigned to had cots on each side. In the middle area, there were to cots. It was called “God’s aisle”. This middle space was highly polished -nobody could walk on it. Usually, they shined it with a buffer. When that broke down, they learned to use female sanitary hygiene products to shine the waxed floor!

The young female soldiers had two uniforms. First was what was called a “PT” uniform. It was worn almost daily. The uniform was made up of a brown blouse, white shorts, and a skirt that was worn atop the shorts. They wore brown socks and boots that were called “Little Abners” because they looked like the boots that a Daisy May character wore. This uniform had to be starched so it could stand by itself! After starching the clothes by hand, and thoroughly drying them, they could stand the uniforms in “God’s aisle” to dry.

They also had a dress uniform that would be used for more formal occasions. This was a light green, polyester uniform with dark green piping, consisting of a skirt and a blouse. Black shoes were worn as a part of the uniform. The hem of the skirts, by regulation, had to be two inches below the knees.

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