Betty Jane Ashcraft Fisher was the youngest Coast Guard SPAR in World War II. She was the youngest in her boot camp class (the last for the SPARs), which was in progress when the war ended.
Her story is part of our month of video countdown to the home video release of Homefront Heroines: The WAVES of World War II.
Coast Guard recruitment poster during World War II, for the SPARs featuring the popular phrase, “Don’t be a Spare, be a SPAR.” The Coast Guard fell under Navy jurisdiction during the war.
Coast Guard recruitment poster during World War II, for the SPARs. The Coast Guard fell under Navy jurisdiction during the war.
At right, Mrs. Sadie Flay, a WWI Yeomanette, compares her uniform with that of a SPARs’ from 1943. The Coast Guard SPAR is Lons McLellan.
The photo comes from the National Archives.
In this photograph from the Coast Guard, SPARs leader Dorothy Stratton is interviewing with Vice Admiral Russel R. Waesche, Coast Guard Commandant.
In this February 1943 National Archives photo, SPARs in yeoman training at Cedar Falls are relaxing after their daily activities.
The SPARs are (left to right): Maxine Renner, Mary J. Klein and Dorothy Horder.
Between 10,000 and 11,000 women volunteered to become a SPAR. The average enlisted woman was 22 years of age, and like the WAVES she held a high school diploma and had a few years of work experience.
Among the artists used by the Coast Guard to promote the SPARs was celebrated pin-up artist Alberto Varga. This poster from the National Museum of the U.S. Navy features a Varga design.
Like the WAVES, the Coast Guard SPARs would have the same rank and pay as their male counterparts. And like Coast Guard men, the SPARs fell under Navy jurisdiction during World War II. Military protocol demanded that the Coast Guard be commanded by the Navy during wartime.
This recruitment poster comes from the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.
Coast Guard SPARs leader Dorothy Stratton moved from the WAVES when the Coast Guard SPARs were founded on November 24, 1942. She became the first SPAR. She is credited with giving the SPARs their name: writing in a member to Coast Guard Commandant Vice Admiral Russell Waesche:
The initials of [the Coast Guard motto Semper Paratus, Always Ready] are, of course SPAR. Why not clal the members of the Women’s Reserve SPARs? . . .As I understand it, a spar is. . .a supporting beam and that is what we hope each member of the Women’s Reserve will be.”
This photo comes from the U.S. Coast Guard.