Overseas Service


In late 1944, the WAVES finally got approval to allow women to go “overseas.” This included the now-US states of Alaska and Hawaii.

Previously, women were only allowed stateside berths.

This article from the WAVES Newsletter explained how women could apply for the service post. It comes from the Schelsinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.

Meet Merrily Kurtz Hewett

Merrily Kurtz was one of the WAVES stationed in Hawaii – and so a perfect transition for us from our feature on Hawaii is a feature on Merrily.

This is a photograph of Merrily and some of her WAVE colleagues in Hawaii. She’s in the center. Merrily grew up in Portland, Oregon and was a storekeeper in the WAVES.  She served in Florida and Hawaii during her World War II military career.

End of the War

WAVE Patricia Farrington Siegner was based in Hawaii when the war ended:

 At the end of the war I came off, we first went to this bar and had a drink (laughs) and then went onto the night watch.  After we got off, we were required, mind you, having been on duty all night and watch, to be on regimental review!  And I thought, “What in the world is this?  It’s the end of the war!”  Then they suddenly got very GI, what we called all-Nav. We used to call it all-Nav. We had to stand regimental review and we thought it was ridiculous.

This photograph is of a group of WAVES from Oregon stationed in Hawaii during World War II. It comes from the National Archives.

Working in Paradise

WAVE Merrily Kurtz Hewett remembers being on the job in Hawaii:

 We all went to work about the same time, so it just seemed that — and you had to be in by 10.  So you had to be on the base by six, I think.  You could have company for the dances.  But it was al open air, too.  We didn’t have windows, it was just screens.  It was Hawaii. You know they talk about the bugs now.  And maybe mice or rats. And I don’t remember any of that at all. At all.

This photograph shows Merrily and her co-workers in Hawaii during World War II. It comes from the collection of Merrily Kurtz Hewett.

Top Secret Assignment

WAVE Patricia Farrington Siegner worked in an underground bunker when she was stationed in Hawaii, coding and decoding military messages:

I couldn’t tell my mother where I was.  I have, I have in these letters, I’ve got cut outs, paper dolls where the censor took stuff out.  And of course it went over once it looked like we were going to sign armistice they didn’t have so much censorship.  But I couldn’t tell her where I was. So I said, she wanted to know. And of course it would have been cut out. So I told her, “Think about your favorite fruit.” She loved pineapple (laughs). And she got it right away.  You see, it was a territory then. It was not a state, so it was different, entirely different.  Entirely different.  We were in the center of the Pacific Theater War.

This photograph of WAVES in Hawaii comes from the National Archives.

Dinner and a Dance

WAVE Merrily Kurtz Hewett remembers evenings in Hawaii:

The fellows liked to be asked to come.  Have meals with us.  You have your friends over for a meal.  Then they’d stay and usually it would be a dance night, I guess.  I can’t remember for sure exactly how many times a week we dances.

This photo shows WAVES Rita Bergan, Mary Burke, Rosalene Brown, Helen Beegle eating in the mess hall in Hawaii. It comes from the National Archives.