KILLEEN (April 13, 2013)--The Women's Army Corps has a few good women, but would like to add several more to their local chapter in Killeen called the Women's Army Corps Veterans Association, Genevieve Chapter 94.
The WAC held a ceremony at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery to unveil a monument dedicated the military women of past, present and future. Lavalla Blum joined the WAC Auxiliary in 1943 but got out when her husband returned wounded from the war.
"My husband was coming back from the Middle East as a hospital patient and I wanted to be with him," said Blum. She went to Daytona Beach, Florida, for basic and then traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, for her first duty assignment working at the local exchange.
"I served ice dream and cold drinks and would share a joke," said Blum.
"Our job was to keep the troops happy, so we did. We got along pretty good. It was hard for us to get use to the men and the men to get use to seeing women on the base."
Blum recalled not being able to carry a weapon.
"We couldn't shoot any guns because they thought we were too feminine and didn't know how to handle one. So the only thing we had when we pulled guard was a broom stick sawed off. That was our 'billy club.' That was a big laugh when everybody saw us swinging them around."
Blum once served as the president of the local WAC chapter and has been a member since 1991. "They have come a long way from what it was when we went in, and I am just really proud of anybody that's in the uniform," said Blum.
"Today they have more of a chance to do things. We have some that are flying and I know several of them that have made their one or two stars. I think that is wonderful. I'm proud of them."
Guest speaker at the ceremony was Judge Martha Trudo. She talked about how the country was facing a two-front war with Germany and Japan.
"Military leaders recognized that our women could supply the resources so desperately needed in the military and industrial sectors." Mothers and grandmothers were working in factories manufacturing ammunition, bombs and clothing for the war.
Trudo was sworn into WAC in 1972. "I wasn't allowed to wear shorts," said Trudo. "Many of you might recall that. I was given a wrap around lime-green skirt and shirt. That was our physical training uniform."
Trudo went on to say that women were not allowed to get pregnant if they were serving in the military. "When I came into the service, I was pregnant and I hid it for nine months. I was afraid I would be discharged," said Trudo.
She lived on bananas and M&M's trying to keep her weight down so no one would notice. "I kept it a secret because I was terrified I would be discharged."
Trudo was detailed to the JAG Corps and ended up having three children while serving in the military.
In 1978, women began reintegration back into the Army and served in all different missions other than combat, at that time.
"Women have proven they can handle the challenges of war have they not?" asked Trudo.
Staff Sergeant Ynetta Johnson attended the ceremony and ended up joining the local WAC chapter by day's end. "I read about their history," said Johnson, HHC 21st Cavalry Brigade.
"I never knew it was open to active-duty, so after reading the brochure and stuff I decided to join. I did not know how restricted it was for us being female in the military."
"Now seeing how far females have come in the military is real good. Its changed a lot since then and now the military is opening up some of the combat positions to female. That's another hurdle that we've overcome so far. It's real good."