Flight Pay

WAVES typically didn’t get flight pay, or extra money for serving aboard an aircraft. But Jean Clark did receive some extra training so that she could get the flight pay, as seen in this copy of her certification.

The officer at Lake Washington NAS thought that Jean deserved the extra money. But that meant that she had to fly sometimes. One flight was particularly memorable:

One time he said, “We’re going out. You might want to go.” I said, “OK.”  We’re going to deliver a captain to a flatop. That means we’re taking the captain back to the aircraft carrier.  He says, “They’re out there off the coast,” he said, but he says, “It’s top secret. So you have to keep still about it.”  So we took the captain out to the carrier.  Off the coast of Seattle. It was a rough rough sea. The waves were coming in like crazy.  You might think that landing on water is a soft landing?  It’s like landing on a pile of rocks if you hit water. And it’s bumpy. So we hit down and they put down a small boat from the aircraft carrier to come out and get the captain. They captain came out on the pontoon of the little widgen waiting to get picked off as they came by. They made several swipes. The commander says to me, “You know, they better get him pretty soon. Those waves  are getting pretty high. We may not get out of here.”  I thought “Oop, well, this is it.”  It did look pretty dangerous. Pretty soon, they did grab him and get him off and take him back. The commander says, “Hold on!” And here was this big wave coming towards us.  I mean, big. So he, I could see us heading right into that wave, and we went right into it and right through it and on and we’re airborne.  He says, “Well!  We made it!”  (laughs)  That was the most exciting thing that happened to me when I was in the Navy.

The certification comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

NAS Lake Washington

Jean Clark was stationed at NAS Lake Washington for the duration of the war. The facility is no longer a Naval Air Station, but is a public park. It’s located in Seattle, along the shores of the lake near the University of Washington’s Seattle campus.

Jean was in charge of the Link Trainer Instructors.

I think probably because I was one of the first ones there.  I had a little more training than, I guess, well I had been retained for instructor, too, there. So the commander decided I was going to be in charge of the whole group. We didn’t have that many at first, only four. But then we increased to nine. We had a full complement of all we could use. By that time, when we had nine, we were pretty loaded with personnel.

We were all good friends. All nine of us, still, went out to Seattle when we had liberty and we also after we were discharged, I was the first one to be discharged, we were writing letter. I think we wrote letters for 35 years probably. They came maybe twice a year. We called them a round robin letter. They were sent to the next person you know and we had a mailing list that you followed. It’s interesting. I used to keep all these letters, but I don’t have them any more.

The photograph comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

Link Job Description

Link Trainer Instructors also got a “ratings description” booklet which told them of the details of the job.  Jean Clark’s booklet has her name typed on the front cover.

One of the things they trained pilots was in a skill known as a “square search”:

The go up in the air, some of these 90 day wonders (officers trained in 90 days), they’re flying around on a flight, wherever they’re going and they come back. They can see the field and make a landing. OK. Another day they go out and they go out and it fogged in.  They can’t see the field.  And they can really get into trouble. So we had to teach them what they call the square search. Where they were to fly in a direction for one minute and make a turn and fly, a left turn and fly in another direction until they could finally spot the field.  If they were lost in the fog and didn’t know where they were and were coming down and didn’t see it. That was mainly extra protection to keep them from flying into a mountain.

This booklet comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

Learning the Ropes

Jean Clark was sent to Atlanta in order to learn how to give proper instruction to potential pilots via the Link Trainer. But it wasn’t enough to simply learn how to give instruction. They had to learn everything about the trainer from top to bottom.

We also had to check the trainer. While we were at the air base, not only did we learn how to operate the trainer, we also learned how to repair it if anything went wrong.  There was an engine just outside of the building, the main, that had to be dismantled and cleaned every now and again so it was operating efficiently.  That was part of our duty.

At the end of the training session, the women received a certificate saying that they were qualified in their ranking.

This certificate comes from the Jean Clark collection.


Jean Clark was in the first class of recruits to be trained at Hunter College in the Bronx. The women were bunked in what were formerly civilian apartments surrounding the campus. There were 12 in her room, all sharing a single shower.

We had to take turns taking showers. One day it was my turn to take my shower and they called — while I was in the shower, hey called from the downstairs “Inspection!”  We had been there a little while and we were supposed to have the room shipshape. Everything neat and clean and dusted and at attention in full dress.  Here I am in the nude in the shower and here it is five floors down. My bunkmates all start handing me clothes (laughs). I thought, “I’ll make it” and I did, except I didn’t’ get my shoes tied.  And I was standing there at attention with my shoelaces dangling.  The WAVE officer didn’t notice (laughs).

This photograph shows the WAVES-in-training standing outside of the Bronx apartment building where they were stationed. It comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

Enlisting in the WAVES

Jean Clark enlisted in the WAVES in December of 1942 at a recruiting station in Portland, OR, after her husband was sent overseas for the war. She heard about the WAVES through an article in her local newspaper.

And I just thought, “That’s what I’m going to do.” My husband said,  “Please don’t join the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps), because that’s what was going on around right then. He says they’ll probably send you overseas and you’ll be overseas when I get home!

Clark told the recruiter that she was teaching in Sweet Home, a small town in central Oregon. She asked the recruiter to let her finish out the school year, which would end in May.

He grinned and said, “Don’t worry about that.”  (laughs).  Well, then in January, I think it was, I got my first letter. It told me what things to expect. In February I got one, “Report.”

This photograph comes courtesy of Jean Clark.

Becoming a Teacher

Jean Clark’s family eventually moved to a farm on the outskirts of the town of Stayton, OR. There was a one-room schoolhouse nearby, but her father wanted her to get a better education, so he sent her into town to live with her great-grandmother, a very strict woman who walked from Virginia (where the family was from) to Oregon along the Oregon trail right after the Civil War.

 I wasn’t awfully happy with it because it was “Sit up.”  “You have a backbone you know.” And “Young ladies do not cross their legs. If you must cross anything, cross your ankles.”  And then one day I came home, I began to realize she was of a different ilk.  I mentioned that today was Lincoln’s birthday.  “Oh!” she said, “He freed the slaves and ruined the south!” So you knew where she was coming from.

Clark was a talented student. She got a scholarship to Reed College in Portland, but her father wanted her to go someplace less experimental, so she ended up at the Oregon College of Education in Monmouth, OR (now Western Oregon University) when she was just 16. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in three years instead of the usual four and became a teacher.

This photograph comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

Why No Team Sports?

Janette Shaffer Alpaugh helped to organize sports teams for WAVES in the south. But she also helped to start alternatives to traditional exercises at the training centers as well.

We were at Smith, with a nice gymnasium. I kept thinking, “Why don’t we have some sports?”  Because we took classes and we’d go down for marching and some calisthenics. But that was that.  So I kept thing, “Well, you’ve got all these other young people. Why can’t we be trying basketball or something?”  So I went to the lady, head officer, “Isn’t there some time we could schedule some basketball?  Anybody who shows up could just play.”  And she said, “Oh, that’s a good idea.  I don’t know why we don’t do it.” So they fixed something up for Sundays when you had free time.

I think because I did that (laughs) — I didn’t think that was anything unusual. I did that because I wanted to play.

The photo comes from a Navy post card set produced about the Hunter College boot camp. It’s from the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Physical education took many different forms. These WAVES are square dancing their way to fitness.

The photograph dates from April of 1943. It was taken at the U.S. Naval Training School for Radio Operators at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. It’s held in the collection of the National Archives.

WAVES also participated in sports teams which traveled to other bases and competed with women in various sports, like volleyball or basketball. Janette Shaffer Alpaugh helped organize those teams in the south. Read more about her work in physical activities for WAVES here.

“Not Going to Make It”

SPARs, the Coast Guard women, had similar training as WAVES.  SPAR Dorothy Riley Dempsey remembers the physical training as being extremely taxing.

We were not prepared for boot camp. We had to jump through the tires, you know. Then the next thing we had to do was we had to scale a wall.  We couldn’t do it.  I said to the girl in back of me, “Quinn, push, because I’ll never get over that wall.”

There was a big rope and it had a knot on it.  And there was a pit with mud here.  We had to back up and jump and my friend Quinn who was with me, I said, “Quinn, I’m never going to make that pit.”  And she said, “Neither am I.”  So we sneaked over to another line. We never had to go over it.  We didn’t get caught.  I said, “If we’re caught, we’re out. They’ll get rid of us.”

The photo comes from a Navy post card set produced about the Hunter College boot camp. It’s from the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.