Order of the Day

This image comes from the newsletter at the Cedar Falls training station for WAVES. It shows how the daily base newspaper was used to communicate information with WAVES about things like the uniform of the day – in this case women were assigned to wear their grey striped searsucker dresses (the summer uniform) with raincoats.

The image comes from the archives of the University of Northern Iowa.

Yeoman’s Work

After training at Yeoman’s school in Cedar Falls, Eileen was stationed in Washington D.C.


The photo above was taken at Iowa State Teacher’s College in Cedar Falls where Eileen (and Thorngate ) trained.

“I always say I joined the Navy to see the sea and I saw D.C.” 

She was in the city when President Roosevelt died in 1943 and remembers seeing, through tears, the riderless horse follow the procession down Pennsylvania Avenue (pictured below).


 “I really did at that point realize that I was, you know – small  minute part, but a part of history.”

Meet Eileen Horner Blakely

Ethel Eileen Horner Blakely joined the WAVES in 1944 at 20 years of age. She was persuaded to join along with a church friend whose husband was in the army. Eileen went to Hunter College in the Bronx, New York,  for boot camp and next to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for Yeoman’s school (a “Yeoman” in the Navy does secretarial work). She was in the same school at the same time as Margaret Thorngate, and they are sitting near each other in their unit portrait.

Eileen, originally from Ohio,  saw her life as quiet and dull. She wanted to make a difference and  joining the Navy seemed the patriotic thing to do. With a desire to get out of her comfort zone, she signed up for the WAVES – a place where she was needed.


“I have an uncle who joined the day after Pearl Harbor … A year later another uncle joined the Navy. The year after that, my brother joined the Navy. So when 1944 came, I decided it was my turn. So I joined the Navy.”

forward – March!

Margaret Anderson Thorngate was sworn into the WAVES at the beginning of January 1944, and was sent to boot camp in the Bronx, NY., at Hunter College. Margaret’s favorite part of boot camp was learning to march for the regimental review. She was in the marching band in high school and loved the rhythm of marching to the band.


After boot camp she was assigned to yeoman’s (a “yeoman” in the Navy does secretarial duties) school in Cedar Falls, IA., for three months. She was ultimately stationed at the base in San Francisco, where she could easily visit her family at home. She worked downtown in the Federal Building along with eight to 10 other WAVES and they made $90 a month, which at that time meant, “you could live it up.”