SPARs Uniform

The SPARs had a similar uniform to the WAVES, as shown in the photo above. Both were designed by couture designed Mainbocher. The key difference was in the lapel insignia. While the WAVES had the “fouled anchor” symbol of the Navy, the SPARs had a Coast Guard insignia on their collar.

This National Archives photograph shows World War I Yeomanette Sadie Flay comparing her uniform with World War II era WAVES and SPARs during a recruiting tour in Arizona.

Same Rank and Pay

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.

Dorothy Stratton

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.

SPARs Commander

The SPARS, like the WAVES, turned to higher education for their leader. Dorothy Stratton was the first full time Dean of Women at Purdue University as World War II started. She left higher education to join the service, become a member of the first WAVES’ officer class at Smith College. She was then assigned as Assistant to the Commanding Officer of the WAVES radio training program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

This photograph of Stratton and WAVES commander Mildred McAfee comes from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Happy Anniversary SPARS!

Because of the holiday weekend, we held off on this post until today. But it was 70 years ago, November 23, 1942, that the Coast Guard SPARS was founded. The SPARS were the Coast Guard’s women’s reserve and their name came from the Coast Guard motto Semper Paratus, Always Ready.

This recruitment poster comes from the National Museum of the U.S. Navy at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC.