These women built weapons and trucks and planes and war ships and so much more over the years of the war. While no doubt the same movement took place in several countries including Canada, some 5 million women in the US working on the home front for the defense industry would become known as Rosie the Riveters. One of these was Mae Krier.
Noted in a past blog, Krier worked on the building of B17 and B29 bombers at the Boeing plant in Seattle. After the war she would continue to do her bit and in recent years has played a major role in the organizing and making of masks during the Covid 19 crisis.
After years of protesting for the women to be recognized, the Trump government of 2020 made a wonderful announcement. An act called the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act had been passed and signed by the President.
This medal is expected to be minted in the Fall of 2022, with the original probably going to the Smithsonian, and one of the earliest medals no doubt probably going to May Krier, probably in her 96th or 97th year at that time.
I had the privilege of meeting Sgt Richard Hilton, then 97, and living in Northern Vancouver island. Two years later I was honoured to be invited to attend his ceremony and his receiving his Devils Brigade's Congressional Gold Medal when he was 99 yrs old. I also spoke to him by phone on his 100th birthday. What a thrill.
The original devils' brigade gold medal is held at Fort Bragg, NC. A duplicate medal was presented at an official ceremony in Ottawa to the War Museum. Following this the lone 16 Canadian survivors would later get their bronze duplicates of this medal. Hilton's as noted above.
I highly recommend you visit the museum in Ottawa to see this medal and lots of incredible history covering years of the Canadian Military. If you go, always, always,always ask for a guided tour. The fabulous volunteers will help to explain incredible objects that you would just walk by because you did not recognize them.
Having now read of the women working on building the ships for the Warriors above who fought through the air, on the land and sea, we now move onto another sea story.
I just recently learned of this story. I found it so emotional that I thought it should be shared with you. Please read on to learn of this and also follow the link in this space to see and listen to an incredible video online that will give you much more detail than this blog brings you.
Having been wounded by shrapnel in both legs he grabbed a life belt and had strapped it on before being blown off the deck with so many of his shipmates. He activated the belt in such a way that it became a floating device and he was thus saved and later picked up by the USS Bagley. Hours later he was returned to the sinking USS Astoria to get aboard and try to save more lives when again was blown off its deck. It soon sank taking half her crew with it, but not before taking some 65 hits from enemy ships.
But Elgin was lucky enough to again have his floating device belt activated and thus survived the battle.
Later allowed to go home to recover, he again starting looking at his belt. He showed it to his mom who was, to say the least, quite stunned.
She told him that during the war she joined with so many others..... Rosie's Riveters...if you will... that actually worked at the Firestone Rubber and Tire Company in Akron, and that they made this very belt.
As if that was not enough... she pointed to the number of the inspector printed inside the belt. It was her very number. She made, or inspected the very belt that was used to save her son's life... some 8,000 miles away.
That number seems to be part of the tag above, at the left end of the belt.
The middle image shows Savo Island and Point Cruz at Gaudalcanal, of which you have read much in this space involving Canadian born Medal of Honor recipient Douglas Munro.
The third image shows the area where the USS Astoria was hit and sank. Probably close to the end of the red arrow I have inserted.
I highly recommend you take a few minutes to view the video at the link below. Be sure to turn your speakers on. It is a great story, and I hope you will drop me a note regarding this.
Cheers till Sunday 3 October... the third day of Women's History Month in Canada.
Here's the link.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLSbH3fZFyo