|Eloise Ann Russell
Womens Army Auxiliary Corps
Fort Des Moines, Des Moines, Iowa
| This page displays a grouping in my private collection relating to the military service of Sgt. Eloise Ann Russell, the sister of Kenneth and Ralph Russell, both WWII
bomber pilots whose' groupings are also part of my private collection. (You can view their groupings by clicking HERE.) The Russell family certainly did their part
during the war, providing the United States military with two sons and a daughter for patriotic service. This page will document the service time of Eloise Russell and
her time in the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), later changed to the Womens Army Corps (WAC) during WWII.
Eloise's grouping consisted of many photographs, letters, her US Army dog tags and other items. This page is intended as a tribute to Eloise and the other WACs
who served so admirably during WWII, allowing men of fighting age to be utilized in front line service and other much needed positions. Often an overlooked group,
the WACs were a vital part of America winning WWII against the Axis.
|A brief history of the WAAC/WAC:
Massachusetts Congresswoman Edith N. Rogers introduced the first bill to establish a women's auxiliary in May 1941. On May 14, 1942, Congress approved the
creation of a Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), and within days, Oveta C. Hobby was appointed the first Director of the WAAC.
Five training centers were opened within a year. The first at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, the second at Daytona Beach, Florida, the third at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, the
fourth at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and the fifth at Camp Ruston, Louisiana. As an auxiliary of the Army, the WAAC had no military status, therefore Mrs. Rogers
introduced another bill in 1943 to enlist and appoint women in the Army of the United States. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill on July 1, 1943. Three
months later the WAAC was discontinued and in its place was the Women's Army Corps (WAC). Colonel Hobby continued as Director of the WAC.
Over 150,000 American women would go on to serve in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during the war. Members of the WAC were the first women other than
nurses to serve within the ranks of the United States Army. WAC applicants had to be U.S. citizens, between the ages of 21 and 45 with no dependents, be at least five
feet tall, and weigh 100 pounds or more. WAC members would go on to serve in a large number of technical jobs assisting the United States Army in freeing up able
bodied men to serve in front line combat units.
The Women's Army Corps was disbanded on October 29th, 1978 by an Act of Congress.
For a more detailed look at the history of the WAAC/WAC, visit the following link:
|The C.E. Daniel Collection
|If anyone has any additional information about any of the men and women shown on this page, or if
you have seen any errors, I would appreciate hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me with
any comments or questions.
| A Fort Des Moines photograph dated August 8, 1942, identifying the
three spectators in the foreground of the photo as Maj. Fowler, Col.
Faith, and Col. Hobby.
|Left: A Fort Des Moines photo dated 9/42 identifying
these as the "Staff - Summer 1942" as: Mr. Mischio
(W.O.), B. Brust, Russell, Forster, Zimmermann, Wagner
|Right: Another "Summer Staff" photo from September 1942 identifying the
follow as (L to R): Louisa Dungan, Chris Walsh, Eva Forrester (Sgt.), E.
Zimmerman, Vera Wilson, E. Russell and Bernice Brust.
|Left: A 1942 dated photograph of the "Winter Staff." None of the
persons in the photograph are identified on the photo, although Eloise
can be seen standing third from the right, and the gentleman on the
far right appears to be Lt. Turner shown below..
|Two photographs of a man identified only as "Capt.
|Obviously the women maintained a terrific sense of humor during their
|Sgt. Eloise Ann Russell - US Army
| Little is known about the military service of Eloise Russell other than information taken from her personal wartime letters and those of her brothers. Given the
information found among her items, Eloise was part of the first group of WAACs to enter into service in the United States Army during WWII. Eloise was part of the
first group of women to undergo military training at Fort Des Moines, arriving for service on July 21, 1942. By September 1942, Eloise was serving as a Specialist
Second Class, helping to process the new WAACs arriving at the post. BY October 1942, she was working as the Assistant Chief Clerk, still helping to process the
new arrivals. By November of 1942, Eloise was hoping for an appointment to a nearby radio school, while still serving as Assistant Chief Clerk. That same month
found Eloise bivouacked at the Aladdin Hotel in Kansas City while in radio school, with her roommates; Kay Kylins and Thelma Haskell, two close friends during her
January 1943 brought a visit to the radio school by Col. Hobby, commanding officer of the WAACs, with Col. Hobby and Eleanor Roosevely making a second visit on
February 16, 1943. Eloise made kind comments regarding Mrs. Roosevelt during her visit. By March, Eloise was hoping for a transfer to a base in Santa Ana to be
closer to her mother. In a letter dated April 1, 1943, Eloise wrote to her mother telling her that she heard the WAAC were to become the WAC and would join the
regular Army. Eloise remarked that if the WAAC became part of the regular Army, she would resign and leave the service, having no desire to be in the regular Army.
In a letter dated July 9th, Eloise writes to her mother stating that she may join the United States Marine Corps if she leaves the WAAC, hoping to get posted to a more
forward position. She also states that she wishes her brother Kenneth and "Donna" would get married instead of waiting for Kenneth to graduate from flight school
and receive his commission which is only a month away.
|Eloise describes how the WAACs have been taken off of control tower duty as the commanding office doesn't believe the womens' voices are suitable for control
tower duty. Eloise indicates she has been washing airplanes for the past ten days and enjoying being outside in the sun.
On August 6, 1943, Eloise stood-by and watched as members of the WAAC became the WAC, attending the ceremony which made the WAC part of ther regular
United States Army. By her estimation, one quarter of the WAACs were leaving the service, not wanting to be part of the regular Army.
The next letter in Eloise's grouping is dated May 9, 1945. Writing to her brother Forrest, Eloise remarks how happy she is that the war in Europe is over. She also
relates how women are losing their war jobs at home as a result of servicemen returning from Europe. With great disgust, she indicates her disappointment for
those "draft dodging" men who didn't go off to war, stayed behind and lazily worked in the factories, and who were still retaining their jobs while hard working
women were being let go.
Eloise's letters show her tremendous amount of patriotism, often encouraging her mother to skimp and save to buy war bonds to support the war, while
continuously encouraging her brother Forrest to enlist in one of the armed services to do his part in the war. Her letters also display a deep amount of affection for
her entire family and a sense of pride in the military service of her brother Kenneth.
There is no additional information about Eloise after the war, and it is hoped that continued investigation and research will reveal more about the post-war life of
|Photographs of a proud Eloise while stationed at Fort Des Moines.
|This page displays only a small portion of the overall photographs and documents in Eloise's grouping. Eloise took
many photographs of Fort Des Moines and the various WAAC members that she served with. Some were identified
while others remain a mystery, their identities lost to time.
This grouping is a terrific look into the early days of the WAAC and their service time at Fort Des Moines. Eloise's
letters provide an informative look into the early days of the WAAC and what their service members experienced while
in the service of the United States armed forces.
This grouping, along with those of Kenneth and Forrest Russell, show the extreme patriotism exhibited by the Russell
family during the war. Although generally out of my area of preservation, this grouping is a welcome addition to my
private collection for both the historical content found within it, and for its relationship to the military service of Kenneth
and Forrest Russell.
As with the other items displayed on this website from my private collection, the grouping is not for sale, and will
forever be preserved with the groupings from Kenneth and Forrest Russell.
|This page is dedicated to Eloise and the other brave and patriotic women who sacrificed their time
and lives to service in the WAAC/WAC during the war. Without these selfless and dedicated
women, the war against the Axis would have been hampered and undoubtedly more difficult. It is
because of their service, that a great many men were freed up and allowed to be moved to front line
units. As with all who served, their service should never be forgotten.
|Identified staff members at Fort Des Moines:
| An 8x10 photograph found among Eloise's grouping. The reverse of the wartime era photograph has the names of a number of women written, some with their
home addresses at the time. Some of the names are easily recognizable while others are difficult to read. The names appear as the following with no order
Mimi Gerber (Houston, Texas), Gertude Walters Chicago, Ill.), Lucy Oatori (Winter Haven, Fl.), Juanita Redmeana (Glendale, Ca.), Thelma Haskell (Detroit, Mi.),
Sarah Epstein (Brooklyn, NY.), Beverly Harris (New Orleans, La.), Phyliss Wykoff (West Union, Oh.), Mary Moffett (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Ingeborg Olson (Chicago, Ill.),
Florence Hobson (?) (unreadable location), Lavon Widness (St. Paul, Minn.), Ferne Updike (Holt, Mi.), Esther Givens (Denver, Co.), Gota Lickerman (?) (Brooklyn,
NY.), Edith Abranowski(?) (unk city, Minn.), Beatrice Serber (?) (Philadelphia, Pa.), Berta Kloif (?) (Brooklyn, NY.), unk. first name Barr (New Rochelle, NJ.), Joyce
Rea (North Muskegon, Mi.), Marjorie A. Moryi (?) (Ann Arbor, Mi.), Barbara Schneiner (?) (Portland, Or.), Doris, Herman (Omaha, Ne.), Joe Wagner (Kansas City, Mo.),
Phyllis Haskamp (Glasgow, Mo.), Lynda Jones (Los Angeles, Ca.), Mary Agrim (Detroit, Mi.), Ruth Lundgard (New York Mills, NY.), Ann O'Donnell (Langford, Pa.),
Ruth Ebner (Sandusky, Oh.), unknown name (Cincinatti, Oh.), Dora Ohlberg (?) (Sheboygan, Wi.).
A small tag at the bottom of the photograph indicates the photo was taken by Glenn Rider in Kansas City, Mo. It is not known when this original, wartime
photograph was taken. If anyone has any information concerning this photograph or the correct identification of the women pictured, I would appreciate hearing
|A few unidentified:
|Eloise, her mother Joie and her brother Forrest