WAACs (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps), first in the Northwest, arrive at Fort Lawton in April 1943.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/03/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2920
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In April 1943, the first 25 members of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) to serve in the Pacific Northwest arrive at Fort Lawton. They perform non-combatant duties "for the purpose of making available to the national defense the knowledge, skill, and special training of the women of the nation" (Bellafaire). 

The WAACs are considered "auxiliaries" and not part of the Regular Army.

Congress authorized the WAACs in May 1941. The Fort Lawton detachment was led by Lieutenant Ida Stoller and Lieutenant Dorine Goldberg.

A Truck Driver's Discontent

Auxiliary Specialist (equivalent to Private) Alma Denham, age 22, expressed dissatisfaction: "I'm ranked as a cook's helper in the Army, but in civilian life, I was a truck driver. Drove anything they'd give me up to a ten-ton job. I thought the Army would be able to use that experience, so I joined the Army, and what did they do? Instead of assigning me a truck to drive, they assign me as a cook's helper" (Warren).

WAAC officers could not command male personnel and they received less pay than their male counterparts. WAACs did not receive overseas pay, veterans' medical benefits, or death benefits. African American women also served as WAACs, but were trained and maintained in separate platoons.

Toward Equality

In July 1943, the Women's Army Corps (WAC) was formed as part of the U.S. Army and rank and pay disparities were resolved. Ultimately, 150,000 women served as WAACs and WACs during World War II.


James R. Warren, The War Years: A Chronology of Washington State in World War II (Seattle: History Ink, 2000), 51; Judith A. Bellafaire, "The Women's Army Corps: A Commemoration of World War II Service," Center for Military History Publication 72-15, brochure, (www.army.mil/cmh-pg/brochures/wac/wac.htm).

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