The Women's Army Corps

While press and public discussed the merits of the WAAC, Congress
opened hearings in March 1943 on the conversion of the WAAC into the
Regular Army. Army leaders asked for the authority to convert the
Women's Army Auxiliary Corps into the Women's Army Corps (WAC),
which would be part of the Army itself rather than merely serving with it.
The WAAC had been an unqualified success, and the Army received
more requests for WAACs than it could provide. Although WAACs were
desperately needed overseas, the Army could not offer them the
protection if captured or benefits if injured which Regular Army soldiers
received. The plans for an eventual Allied front in Europe required a
substantially larger Army, with many more jobs that women could fill.
Establishment of a Women's Army Corps with pay, privileges, and
protection equal to that accorded to men was seen as a partial solution to
the Army's problem.
On 3 July 1943, after a delay caused by congressional hearings on the
slander issues, the WAC bill was signed into law. All WAACs were given a
choice of joining the Army as a member of the WAC or returning to
civilian life. Although the majority decided to enlist, 25 percent decided to
leave the service at the time of conversion.

Women returned home for a variety of reasons. Some were needed at
home because of family problems; others had taken a dislike to group
living and Army discipline. Some women did not want to wear their
uniform while off duty, as required of all members of the armed forces.
Women electing to leave also complained that they had not been kept
busy or that they had not felt needed in their jobs. Not surprisingly, the
majority of those who left had been assigned to the Army Ground Forces,
which had been reluctant to accept women in the first place and where
the women were often underutilized and ignored. Some 34 percent of the
WAACs allocated to the Army Ground Forces decided to leave the
service at the time of conversion, compared to 20 percent of those in the
Army Air Forces and 25 percent of those in the Army Service Forces.

With the conversion of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps to the
Women's Army Corps, former WAAC first, second, and third officers
became captains and first and second lieutenants, respectively. Director
Hobby was officially promoted to the rank of colonel; WAC service
command and theater staff directors were promoted to lieutenant
colonels. Company commanders became captains or majors depending
upon the size of their command and their time in service. Enlisted women
were ranked as master sergeant through corporal and private, the same
as their male counterparts.

The conversion of the WAAC to the Women's Army Corps and the
"image" controversy of 1943 combined to cause a crisis in WAC
recruiting. In desperation, some WAC recruiters lowered the standards
for acceptance into the corps, and a few even resorted to subterfuge to
obtain the necessary numbers of recruits. In two southern states,
recruiters haunted train and bus stations, waiting for women who came to
send off husbands and fiancées to war. An Army recruiter would rush up
after the soldier had departed and ask the unhappy woman if she wanted
to do something to bring her man back sooner. When she answered
"yes," the officer asked her to sign a paper. Many of the women thought
they were signing a petition. Several days later, these women received
notices to report for induction. They arrived at the training centers
confused and angry, and many never adjusted to life in the WAC.

The War Department and the WAC leadership recognized the immediate
need to step up the recruiting campaign to prevent these occurrences
and to increase the number of enrollees who sincerely wanted to aid the
war effort. The result was the All-States Campaign and the Job-Station
Campaign. In the first, General Marshall asked state governors to assign
committees of prominent citizens the task of recruiting statewide
companies for the WAC, which would carry their state flags and wear
their own state armbands while in training. In theory, state pride would
encourage the committees to work diligently to fill their quotas. The
Job-Station Campaign allowed recruiters to promise prospective
enlistees their choice of duty and assignment location after they
completed basic training. Both campaigns were successful, although they
caused WAC administrators and training camp officials significant
problems dealing with understrength and oversized state companies and
with women who could dictate the terms of their assignments after they
had completed basic training. Although WAC enlistments never reached
the high levels attained early in the war, recruitment maintained a steady
pace from the fall of 1943 through early 1945, allowing the War
Department to respond to overseas theaters' requests with additional
WAC companies.
Click Above For The History Of The WASPS
Battle Of The Bulge
Click On The WWII Memorial Link
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