Jeannette Oliver Leahy

A sense of humor is a grand thing to take along, wherever you may go, Jeannette Oliver Leahy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Oliver, former residents of this city, now of Niles, MI, found hers of use since she joined the WACS [Women's Air Corps], especially at early morning exercises. Other features of Army life she finds thrilling and inspiring, according to a letter she wrote to a friend.

Mrs. Leahy, now Corporal Leahy, is the niece of Myrl L., Allyn C., and Joyce E. Oliver of Eau Claire; also of Stanley Oliver of Chippewa Falls. She is a grandniece of Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Lee, of this city. She is married to Thomas J. Leahy, brother of the Notre Dame football coach, and their home is in South Bend, IN.

Last July, Corporal Leahy enlisted in the WAC in Los Angeles. She had been a hostess in the famous Hollywood Canteen. Her husband was then in the Army Air Corps. He has since been given a medical discharge.

At Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Corporal Leahy was assigned to the Military Correspondence and Business Section of the training center. Her job is to help handle the immense amount of military letters and papers connected with the operation of a large fort. In addition, she teaches physical training.

In a letter to a friend, Corporal Leahy gives this vivid and entertaining description of life as a member of the Women's Army.

"Our day starts at 6 a.m. with myriads of bright lights suddenly shining in our faces. At 6:15, we fall out for our physical training and I'm assigned to lead the girls in exercises. It is really quite comical to look into a sea of shiny faces, metal curlers, rag twists, braids, half-closed eyelids, and muffled yawns and is as good a starter as any for a bang-up day of  Army life.

"We start the session with a cadence series and then progressive exercises, that is: push up, sit up, wing lift, running in place, and balance tests. I don't think any of us actually enjoy falling out at that early hour with windows wide open, acting as if it were noon instead of the middle of the night, but you'd never guess. I even think I'll keep it up in civilian life, or real life, as we merrily refer to it.

"Mess is really wonderful. We all love our mess sergeant and cooks more than anyone here. Breakfast is the customary coffee and orange juice and toast, often with cereals, waffles or eggs, but our lunches and dinners are something quite out of this world. For instance,  we have really attractive dishes of assorted relishes at our main meal (noon): curled carrots, celery, olives, pickles, etc., all packed in ice, with fruit and vegetable salads besides. We call it rabbit food, but that sort of regalia really appeals to me!

Proud of Drilling
"I'm mighty proud of our drilling. We can do Marine drills and silent facings with the best. We parade about once every two or three weeks (in basic it was twice a week). Our fort here looks more like a beautiful college campus than an Army post, and our parade grounds are superb. When I walk down the field with hundreds of kindred WACs, my heart just swells with pride. Old Glory looks more alive and beautiful to me than it ever has before. I'm ashamed to admit that the WAC made we see it that way. There are so many beautiful and soul-stirring ceremonies connected with the flag. Take retreat, for instance. At 5 o'clock every evening, the cannon goes off, the WAC band plays the national anthem, and down comes the flag for another night. No matter where we are or what we're doing, we stop and salute for a minute of silent reverence.

Secretarial Work
"I enjoy my work thoroughly and learn something new every day about Army rules and regulations. I do secretarial work here at the personnel office. I wish that I could tell you more about that phase but it's restricted information and confidential. 

"We engage in many and varied sports activities. We have indoor and outdoor tennis courts, golf course, swimming pool, volleyball, badminton, and everything else you can think of. Our barracks has a bowling team, and we can match with the winners. Well, almost! 

"You see, it isn't so much what we do or don't do; it's the spirit that exists among the girls as a whole. We get along so beautifully. It's a spirit of helping your neighbor and understanding her. So many of the girls here have husbands and sweethearts overseas or killed in action, but you'd never guess. They came here to do a job and they're  sticking by their guns just like their men."