Remembering a Life

We’re continuing our series looking back at the life of Eileen Horner Blakely, who died December 30th at the age of 96.

Eileen met her husband, Walter Earl Blakely, during the Korean War. She was serving in the Navy in Washington, DC. He was a career Navy man, and retired in 1953. She was discharged the same year, after serving a total of five years in the military.

 

Eileen Blakely and her husband posing in jeans and fedoras in front of a 1950s era car.
Eileen and Walter Blakely (Bonnie and Clyde) c. 1958. Photo courtesy Barbara Johnson.

Until her friend Barbara Johnson sent us her obituary, we had never seen this photo of Eileen and Walter as “Bonnie and Clyde.” But it’s a perfect way to capture her spirit and humor.

After their Navy service, the couple moved to Clarkston, Washington, and then to Grants Pass, Oregon, in 1958. She lived there until she died.

Eileen worked for the Siskiyou National Forest (in the engineering section) for 25 years. She was also a member of WAVES National. Walter died in 1987.

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!

It’s All in a Name

An aerial view of the U.S. Navy littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) during its launch sequence at the Austal USA shipyard, Mobile, Alabama (USA). US Navy Photograph
An aerial view of the U.S. Navy littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) during its launch sequence at the Austal USA shipyard, Mobile, Alabama (USA). US Navy Photograph

When I read today about the USS Gabrielle Giffords being commissioned, I wondered how many Navy ships actually had been named after women. I know that naming civilian ships after women is common, but Navy vessels seem to have a different nomenclature (I think of all the World War II-era ships named after states, for instance).

So the history buff in me began looking at Navy history.

uss_harriet_lane

While there had been a handful of female-named military ships prior to the Civil War, it was the Harriet Lane to become the first armed ship in the U.S. Navy named after a woman. The steamer was named after President James Buchanan’s niece, and was first launched in 1857. She was captured by Confederate forces in 1863 in Texas.

The Navy had five transport ships during World War II, all named after women: the USS Dorothea L. Dix, the USS Elizabeth C. Stanton, the USS Florence Nightengale, the USS Lyon (named for Mary Lyon) and the USS Susan B. Anthony. There were also several harbor tugs active during the war named after Native American women: the USS Pocahontas, the USS Sacagawea, and the USS Watseka.

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Higbee (DD-806) underway in the Western Pacific in 1969. US Navy Photograph.
The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Higbee (DD-806) underway in the Western Pacific in 1969. US Navy Photograph.

But it was the USS Higbee that really caught my attention. The Gearing-class destroyer was named for Lenah S. Higbee, superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps fro 1911-1922. The ship was the first combat vessel commissioned for a woman who had served in the Navy. She was commissioned in 1945, served in three wars, and was decommissioned in 1979. A newly-ordered ship, the USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, will be a Arleigh-Burke class destroyer.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper and the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Amelia Earhart conduct an underway replenishment in 2009. Both vessels are named after women. US Navy Photograph
The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper and the Military Sealift Command ship USNS Amelia Earhart conduct an underway replenishment in 2009. Both vessels are named after women. US Navy Photograph

In 1996, the Navy paid tribute to another of its female enlistees. The USS Hopper is named for former WAVE and computer genius Grace Murray Hopper, who remained in the Navy after World War II and helped lead it into the digital age.

Another ordered ship will pay tribute to astronaut Sally Ride.

The Giffords isn’t the only current ship named after a politician. The USS Roosevelt, a destroyed launched in 1999, is named after both former President Franklin Roosevelt and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

#girlpower

See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

See the fireworks Hinges of History created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

Bring the Homefront Heroines Home!

HerTubePoster HH

We’re a part of the Directed by Women global film viewing party happening September 1-15. The party is a worldwide celebration of women-directed films.

We’ll be reposting pages from our other blog here to help raise awareness of the event and give you ideas of films you may want to watch during the month.

But as part of the celebration we’re also offering you a discount on Homefront Heroines. Purchase the DVD from Create Space or get it on demand from Vimeo and we’ll give your 15% off your purchase or rental price. Enter promo code 3MY4J86N. The offer is good through September 15th.

Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/431830

Vimeo on Demand: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/homefrontheroines

Susan Ahn Cuddy


WAVE Susan Ahn Cuddy was a trailblazer during her years in the Navy. The first Korean American WAVE, and first Korean American WAVE officer,  she worked as a gunnery instructor before moving into Naval Intelligence.

You can read her story in the book Willow Tree Shade and see it in our film.

This is a preview of her story – taken from the film.

The sneak peek is part of our month of video countdown to the home video release of Homefront Heroines: The WAVES of World War II.

Helen Edgar Gilbert


WAVE Helen Edgar Gilbert is one of those women often described as a “pistol.” She wrote the book “Okay, Girls, Man Your Bunks,” and didn’t hold back in the multiple interviews we did with her for this project and our film.

Here’s a preview of her story – taken from the film.

The sneak peek is part of our month of video countdown to the home video release of Homefront Heroines: The WAVES of World War II.