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32nd and 33rd Post Headquarters Companies (WAC)

32nd and 33rd Post Headquarters Companies
Active 1942–45
Country United States
Branch United States Army
Type Headquarters
Role Take over post duties to free infantry for combat service.
Size 330
Part of Women's Army Corps

The 32nd and 33rd Post Headquarters Companies were two all-black units of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), later becoming the Women's Army Corps (WAC). The two companies were incorporated by fall of 1942 and consisted of 330 members total.[1] They were the first group of WAACs assigned to a military installation inside the United States during World War II.[2][3] The 32nd and 33rd were assigned to Fort Huachuca, where there was an all-black division of U.S. Army men.[4]

HistoryEdit

 
"... WAAC cooks prepare dinner for the first time in new kitchen at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.", 12 May 1942 – NARA – 531152

The 32nd and 33rd Post Headquarters Companies started out as Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC).[4] When the WAACs changed to WAC, many of the black women who had joined stayed on as WACs.[4]

The black women enlisted in the WAACs started out in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, for training, and where they lived in segregated conditions from the white WAACs.[5]

The 32nd and 33rd Post Headquarters Companies arrived at Fort Huachuca on 4 December 1942.[6] The WAACs arrived by five Pullman cars and were greeted by approximately 10,000 welcomers at the station.[7] A new unit, including six barracks, two mess halls, and an administration building, was built in preparation for the women's arrival.[8] A large recreation area for the WAACs was also built. This was about 500 feet long by 60 feet wide and included a basketball court and places to play volleyball, softball and tennis.[8] After getting off the train, the WAACs stood in formation for the post commander, Colonel Edwin N. Hardy to review the troops on the parade field.[9]

The primary duties of the 32nd and 33rd Post Headquarters Companies were to take over post support duties at Fort Huachuca from the 93rd Infantry Division, releasing them for "possible combat assignments."[1] Jobs that the 32nd and 33rd companies took over included working as typists, stenographers, clerks, messengers, receptionists, switch-board operators, librarians, medical technicians, photographers and postal clerks, who were also known to the male soldiers as "postal packin' mamas."[4]

The 32nd and 33rd Post Headquarters Companies had several officers, including Corrie Sherard, Frances C. Alexander, Geraldine Bright, Vera Harrison, Natalie F. Donaldson,[1] Mildred L. Osby, and Violet Askins.[7] Alexander was 2nd Lieutenant, and led the 32nd company.[8] Mary Kearney, 2nd Lieutenant was commander of the 33rd.[8]

The companies served until late 1945, when they were disbanded.[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Jefferson, Robert F. (2008). Fighting for Hope: African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9781421403090. 
  2. ^ a b Jefferson, Robert E. "32nd and 33rd WAACS Headquarters Companies (World War II)". Black Past. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "Ft. Huachuca – From an Outpost on the Frontier to Army Communications Center". Deming Headlight. 2 June 1977. Retrieved 4 February 2016 – via Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ a b c d Mullenbach, Cheryl (2013). Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II. Chicago Review Press. pp. 104–109. ISBN 9781569768082. 
  5. ^ Hicks, III, George; Hicks, Carmon Weaver (February 2010). "African American Women and the Military". Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Burgess, Jerry G. "History of Army Women" (PDF). U.S. Army Women's Museum. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "WAACS Arrive at Huachuca". Phoenix Arizona Republic. 5 December 1942. Retrieved 4 February 2016 – via Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ a b c d "First WAAC to Serve at Fort Arrives There". Tucson Daily Citizen. 23 November 1942. Retrieved 4 February 2016 – via Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ Price, Ethel Jackson (2004). Fort Huachuca. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781439614341. 

External linksEdit