Serving her country, breaking barriers


Times Leader Staff Writer

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Julia Moore did her part serving as a pharmacist mate, 2nd class with the U.S. Navy in the two years following World War II.

From 1945-47 she served at the Long Beach Naval Hospital in California. Moore was part of the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. She chose to join to follow her family’s example.

“I had two brothers in the Navy already. One was in the USS Wasp when it went down. The other one was on a destroyer escort, and I had a brother in the Army who was a paratrooper, so I decided that I wanted to join it,” she said, adding that demand for female volunteers in a support capacity was high.

Moore said there was considerable need among the returning service personnel.

“They immediately changed the basic training into hospital school, and we had a crash course in hospital work because they told us that they desperately needed WAVES in the hospitals because the war was over and the servicemen were coming home from the war, and they needed as many WAVES as they could get to work in the Navy hospitals.”

Her work also took her into the dependents’ unit for servicemen’s wives and children who required care.

“The dependents’ unit is where the wives and children of the sailors who were out to sea. We took care of those,” she said.

“There was one little boy who was a couple years old. He didn’t have a mother, and his dad was out on the ship. We had to take care of him. He was a diabetic,” she said, adding that he had to carry a sign telling people not to give him candy or sweets. “He wandered around the ward, so we had to put a sign on him. Those are just a few things I remember.”

Moore said the sailors in the care of the WAVES were from the Pacific Theater of the war.

“The wards were filled with people, sailors who came home, lots of sick people,” she said. “The aids, we had to do just about everything the nurses could do, because they didn’t have enough nurses.”

She recalled the numerous wounds and infections in recovery.

“They had numerous things. They had all kinds of problems, and we just worked all hours. There was no limit to the hours we worked. I would work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” she said.

Moore served out her full term, although many WAVES decided to cut their service short.

“We were short helpers, because when the boys were coming home a lot of these WAVES had fiances or husbands that were coming home and wanted to leave the service, since the war was already over and they wanted to be with their fiances. Therefore we were always short of helpers,” Moore said, adding that seeing the need made her decide to remain. “I stayed for a long time after a lot of them went home.”

She added that she carries fond memories of her time in service, calling them the best years of her life.

“I loved the Navy, I loved the hospital and I loved the work I was doing,” she said. “And I liked all the people.”

Moore would keep in contact with the people she met for decades afterward. Some years later, she served with the Reserves in Treasure Island in San Francisco. Moore is now close to 94 years old, she has since returned to her native Barton. She is the only surviving member of her family, which included 12 siblings. All of her brothers came home from the war, although one died shortly afterward.

Moore broke several barriers later. She is a two-time colon cancer survivor and was one of the first women to be treated at a Veterans Affairs hospital. She said the WAVES were only recognized as an official part of the military, rather than as a support group, in the late 1940s.

“We were not a part of the Navy for a long time,” she said.

Moore recalled her stay at a Cleveland hospital at age 63, and the struggle from all parties to adjust.

“There was not even a bathroom at the VA hospital in Cleveland,” Cindy Ross, Moore’s daughter, said. “They had to put a sign up … that said ‘No men allowed, women only,’ because they were not used to having women in their facilities.”

“I was one of the first women to be treated in a Navy hospital,” Moore said. “There’s a big difference now. I broke the barrier.”


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