On the final day of our Military Appreciation Week veteran stories, we celebrate one of the 350,000 women who enlisted in the newly-created American military branches for women – Lorraine Hook Davis.
While her story here is brief, you can read much more about this and other fascinating, clever women in my newest book, Born To Be Soldiers: Those Plucky Women of World War II.
Lorraine’s photo in uniform is on the cover (left).
I originally placed a story about her in my book They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans (Book 2, World War II Legacies).
But later I ran across so much more information about her and other female veterans I had interviewed that I decided to pull it together into a book just about the ladies.
It’s been very popular and I’m scheduled to give many talks about it this year.
It’s a pleasure to talk about their sacrificial, patriotic spirits.
Be sure to check out this one-minute video on Youtube about her and leave a comment. Subscribe to my Youtube channel to get more short veteran interview segments!
Thanks to all of our veterans for their service!
During World War II, Lorraine Hook worked with the Coast Guard in Boston. “The department I was assigned to was Communications, specifically Cryptography,” she said. “We sent and received coded messages.”
She and the other SPARs (acronym for the Coast Guard motto ‘Semper Paratus” –Latin for Always Ready – first letters of each word spells SPAR; it is also a nautical term for a part of a boat) were forbidden from telling anyone what they worked on.
Hook was born in 1920 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. She majored in business and education at Muskingum University (then called Muskingum College) in New Concord, Ohio, graduating in 1941.
After two years of working, Hook enlisted in the American military, specifically the Coast Guard.
The SPAR program was created in August 1942 as part of the Navy. The Coast Guard is a separate branch of the American military until a time of war when it becomes part of the Navy.
As a college graduate, Hook automatically became an officer. In Boston her communications department was tasked with de-coding messages before deciding to whom they should be sent. In her supervisory position Hook proofed each message before sending it to bases in the United States and Hawaii.
Daily, military personnel applied new codes for which the staff had to be informed; no tags or names were attached to any message. “Our reference books contained keys to codes used at every American military installation around the world,” she said. “It was all top secret.”
As the SPARs received training, they enabled men who had held the jobs to be sent overseas.
Hook never encountered direct resentment by the men. “Most of them accepted the work of the SPARs as valuable,” she said. “We never had trouble as long as we did our jobs well.”
Hook wrote letters home, but didn’t feel homesick. “Since I had been on my own after college, I was already an independent spirit,” she said. “Plus, I felt I should be doing something to help the United States as a loyal citizen. I always tried to do above average at my job.”
Hook was serving with the Coast Guard in Hawaii when the Japanese surrendered to the Allied forces in September 1945. The war was over.
After her discharge, Hook used the GI bill to earn a Master’s Degree in Education at Purdue University. She taught English at Central High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Hook married Miles Davis, a pharmacist from Huntington, Indiana. The couple became parents to two sons. “I really enjoyed my military service,” she said. “I still feel a great loyalty to my country and the Coast Guard.”