March is Women’s History Month, and we decided that our blog a day will feature firsts or other accomplishments by the WAVES. Please let us know if there’s something you’d like to know more about, or would like to see featured this month.
We begin with Mildred McAfee. She’s a pretty special woman to the WAVES we’ve talked with on this project. She was the leader of the WAVES for most of World War II.
McAfee was the daughter of a pastor and the President of Wellesley College before being asked to lead the WAVES. She said at the time that the Navy brass told her:
The Navy is going to admit women into the regular positions in the Navy. There’s not going to be any separateness about this. You’re going to be really in the Navy. That sounded very good to me and I used it all the rest of the way through the war.
McAfee was the first Navy female line officer in 1942 and was appointed a Navy Captain in late 1943 – the only WAVE Captain at the time.
We salute Ms. Mac!
This photograph comes from the Naval Historical Center.