Polly Lipscomb served as an Army Nurse in WWII

My book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans, contains five stories of female veterans who served during World War II. It’s not easy finding women veterans to interview as they were fewer in number than men. But the stories I’ve heard were all amazing. These gals were plucky to serve in ‘a man’s war’.

One of the oldest veterans I’ve ever interviewed was Mary ‘Polly’ Adelaide Woodhull Lipscomb of Fort Wayne. Polly as we called her lived in the same senior retirement home as my mother. Polly was 101-years-old at the time of our interview with two of her children present. But she was full of life and excitement at the idea of talking about her life in World War II as an Army nurse, which included being married in an old English church! The photo below shows Polly standing with her son and daughter, all of them holding items that were significant to Polly during her war years of service.

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Here are excerpts from her story in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans:

Born in 1913 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Lipscomb earned a nursing degree from Methodist Hospital in Fort Wayne. She enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in August 1942. With a desperate need for nurses, the Army quickly assigned First Lieutenant Lipscomb a place aboard the Queen Elizabeth, a former luxury ship converted for troops.

Taunton was located about 100 miles west of London. When Lipscomb arrived, the wards were already full of wounded British, Canadian and American soldiers.

Many patients suffered from what was termed ‘shell shock’. Since Lipscomb had worked with psychiatric patients in the States, she was assigned to that ward.

Some patients found comfort in doing simple crafts like weaving and often presented Lipscomb with their completed creations. “I treasured their gifts,” she said, including a placemat and brightly colored orange scarf.

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What made including Polly’s story in my book a clincher was the photo album she had put together during her war years and allowed me to view.

I love looking at old photos, especially when I’ve met people in them.

Polly died in 2016. I wish she could have seen this book, but at least her family members will have it to remember her by. They plan to attend my book launch on Saturday, Nov 4, 2017, from 1-3pm at Allen Co Public Library in downtown Fort Wayne, meeting room C. The public is encouraged to meet and thank these veterans who fought in the biggest conflict the world has ever known.

If you know of a World War II veteran who would like to be interviewed, please let me know via the contact page at this website.

 

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans releases this week!

It’s Time to Get Excited!

The book that’s been a year in the making is just about ready to be released. Just a few more days and I can’t wait!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans has been a labor of love, but I’m thrilled with the 34 stories of men & women from every branch of the military, including Merchant Marine and Coast Guard.

There’s a story of a soldier who helped take more than 150 German soldiers prisoner at one time during the Battle of the Bulge. A sailor helped to sink the last German U-boat during the war. That’s just 2 of the 34 stories that are more exciting than fiction!

This is my second book of stories. My first book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, was published in 2014. It is available for purchase at this site and on Amazon. I’ve now interviewed nearly 200 WWII vets, some 100 years old! Each one is a joy to know.

Lefevra crew dog

Maybe you’d rather look at photos than read. That’s ok as there are dozens of never-before-published photos of veterans from their days in uniform to the present.

The book has extra features of war-related photos, military lingo, and an index to look up battles, ships and units.

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans is a highly educational, entertaining, patriotic treasure of stories.

Nothing like tooting my own horn, is there?

I admit I’m proud because I’m proud of the people who allowed me to write their stories. They have all agreed to be in the book and signed off on their stories.

In addition, several are planning to participate in my book launch party on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at downtown Allen County Public Library from 1-3pm in meeting room C. They have agreed to sign copies of the book which will be available for purchase at the event.

Be sure to put this event on your calendar as it will be a rare opportunity to meet some of our nation’s oldest veterans who served one of the biggest conflicts in world history. I’m sorry to say but they won’t be around much longer.

I’ll let you know in a few days when the book will be available on Amazon and my website.

I hope this book will enforce patriotism in each reader as hearing the stories first-hand has done for me. I love America and the men and women who have served to keep her safe as well as the people around the world who need us.

Tell a veteran today thank you for his/ her service!

This WASP Couldn’t Wait to Fly

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Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall – WASP

One benefit of interviewing World War II veterans is the opportunity to develop friendships. My husband and I consider Marty Wyall a friend. Below is a shortened version of her story from my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans. You can hear Marty speak about her World War II experiences here. She’s still a spunky gal!

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Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall of Fort Wayne learned about the WASP program from a magazine ad while studying bacteriology at DePauw University in 1942. The idea of flying intrigued her. “There was a war on and I wanted to help my country,” she said.

Her family was not keen on the idea. “Mother thought it was morally wrong for me to join the WASP,” she said. “She came from the Victorian era. I told her she would have to accept it because if I was accepted, I planned to work hard.”

Each WASP was required to have 35 hours of flying before joining the program. Wyall paid for her private flying lessons after graduating from DePauw and while working in the serology lab at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis.

Among the 25,000 applicants for the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during WWII, Wyall, who lived in Indianapolis at the time, was one of 1,830 women accepted and one of only 1,074 who completed the program.

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Pictures of Fifinella, a female gremlin designed by Walt Disney to depict the WASP.

After being accepted in May 1944, Wyall traveled at her own expense to Avenger Air Field in Sweetwater, Texas, where the WASP trained. Since the WASP program was not recognized by Congress as part of the military, female recruits paid for their own training, uniforms, room and board. “People kept telling us we were in the military,” said Wyall. “Until Congress passed a bill saying we were in the military, we were not afforded benefits.”

Each WASP learned military protocol and procedures. They also were taught to fly a PT17, Stearman open cockpit, BT13 and AT6. “The AT6 was wonderful because it had a canopy,” said Wyall. “When I flew the Stearman, the wind whipped the scarf across my helmet and goggles.”

The training was nearly identical to what male pilots had completed, including learning to fly in inclement weather and at night. Before earning their wings, each woman completed a 2,000-mile solo cross-country flight.

Wyall’s class graduated December 7, 1944. Two weeks later, the program abruptly closed. “Some people believed the war would be over soon,” she said. Today, you can visit the WASP Museum at Sweetwater.

Male pilots who had flown dozens of overseas combat missions arrived home, ready to resume their flying assignments. The WASP, the nation’s first group of skilled female pilots trained to fly American military aircraft, was sent home, all paying their own way.

Back in Indiana, Martin flew as a commercial pilot for businesses. In 1946 she married Eugene Wyall and they became parents to five children. Eugene died in 1993.

The efforts of the WASP went unnoticed until 1977 when President Jimmy Carter signed a law stating they could be recognized as veterans of WWII.

In March 10, 2010, Wyall and the other WASP were awarded Congressional Gold Medals for their service at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

 

In 2010 the Indiana State Museum organized an exhibition of Wyall’s military experiences. The exhibit highlighted Wyall’s training and involvement as a WASP and featured her military effects and Congressional Gold Medal which she loaned to the museum. The museum also provided some photos of Wyall for my book.

wyall-2012

“We WASP didn’t care about the pay or recognition,” said Wyall. “We just wanted to help our country win the war.”

Thank a vet today for his/her service!