Fairfield’s own “Rosie the Riveter”-Veteran Mary Gillogley

Women serving in the armed services today is a given, but it wasn’t always that way.

“This little veteran was among several thousand troops who left pier 37 in San Francisco Oct 10, 1944, aboard the SS Lurline,  flagship of the Matson Lines, and wound up after 29 days at sea in Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea.  On the way, we were able to vote in the presidential election by absentee ballot, yet, often wonder if those votes were counted, or tossed out with the garbage. “

I don't remember who I voted for, but I voted Truman for Vice-President!

When I set out to write this article, I didn't know anything about the Woman’s Army Corps.

What or who I did know, was a woman named Mary Gillogley.  I knew Mary had been in the service because she had mentioned a few things in passing.  I also knew that Mary was 92 years old and was still very active-driving and volunteering in our community.  I knew that her wit was quick, her tongue was sharp, and that she was always ready with a joke.

What I didn’t know was that the Woman’s Army Corp had been instrumental in breaking stereotypes not only in the armed services, but also in our country.  I also didn’t know that Mary was part of a movement that had changed the course of America’s history, and that her service had directly affected my life as a woman in America, for the better.

Recently, I caught up with Mary to ask her a few questions:

Why did you want to go into the WAC?

Cause there was a war going on and I didn't want to miss it plus the WAC went overseas while it was still happening.

What rank did you achieve?

Staff Sergeant.

What was your job?

Converting US dollars to foreign coins, Dutch, Australian, Filipino, East Indian, etc.

How were you treated by the men in the service?

Super fine, after all the ratio was about whole stacks of guys to one woman.

What was your scariest moment?

Hearing a Japanese torpedo detonate in OUR harbor at 6 am just once, but it did get your attention. 

Where was your favorite place?

The beach in Hollandia, New Guinea.

What is the most important thing war taught you?

That everyone’s the same.

How were you treated when you returned home after the war?

Weird because my skin was not only very dark, it had a yellowish cast to it,due to ingesting Atabrin which supposedly   kept  malaria at bay.  Just didn't match anyone else's skin tone.   

What does it mean to you to have the title of “veteran”?

It makes me ask, “Is that really me?”

Read on to find out more, or for a complete account visit, 


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