Mary Marovich Ryan

Today we’re honoring an important women to the Homefront Heroines crew.

March 8th is the birthday of the woman who inspired the Homefront Heroines project. Mary Marovich was born in Chicago on March 8th 1921. She enlisted in the WAVES in 1943 and after boot camp at Hunter College she became a Pharmacist’s Mate based at Treasure Island in San Francisco.

Mary worked as a telephone operator in Chicago before enlisting in the Navy. She followed six of her brothers into the service – four were with the Army, and two were first class petty officers in the Coast Guard (her younger brother would serve in the military in the Korean War).

Photo of Mary M. Ryan

Mary said before enlisting:

I’d really like to wear a six star pin (to honor her brothers), but I can’t find a story that sell them!

Mary married James Warren Ryan, an Army Air Corps pilot, while she was in the service. She left in 1945 after V-J Day and died in 1992.

Happy birthday, Mother!

Ready for Bed


WAVE recruits Joy Shrader, Winifred Smith and Estelle Slominski (left to right) heading to the showers before bedtime during boot camp at Cedar Falls , Iowa, early 1943. Boot camp would move to Hunter College in the Bronx by February of that year.

The photo comes from the National Archives.

Boot Camp Instruction


Today we begin a series of posts about WAVES boot camp at Hunter College.

WAVE boots learn about the chain of command at the USS Hunter, the boot camp training facility in the Bronx, New York. USS Hunter was the former Hunter College, a women’s college commandeered for the WAVES for the duration of the war in early 1943.

The photograph comes from the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Model Ships


WAVE officer Elizabeth Reynard designed the training at the Hunter College boot camp so that women would learn from real life examples – or, in the case of ships, models of the ships the Navy used.  Here, 1943 trainees crowd around a WAVE officer to learn about the different types of ships that made up the Navy fleet (and those that the enemy used), with the idea that they would be better able to identify them once they were at their permanent stations.

The photograph comes from the U.S. National Archives.

Volunteering to Remain in Service

As the Navy was releasing women from service, it realized that it needed some women who qualified for discharge to remain in the Navy. So it created temporary volunteer assignments which would extend the women’s service beyond the initial “duration of the war plus six months” promised by Navy recruitment materials earlier in the war.

This clipping comes from The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

Happy Birthday, WAVES

It was 70 years ago today, July 30, 1942, that the WAVES became a division of the U.S. Navy.  This photo shows WAVES at the Naval Hospital, Camp Le Jeune in North Carolina, cutting the WAVES birthday cake on the third anniversary in 1945.

From left to right: Monica Moran, Angela Donahue, Dorothy Neuner, Rebecca Daniel, Muriel Foss, Florence Cutler, Dorothy Davison, Catherine Schuelke, Christine Berron and Catherine Rodgers.

The photo come from the National Archives.