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WWII women veterans lauded at Washington memorials

By Jed Boal, | Posted - Jun 5th, 2015 @ 10:33pm

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WASHINGTON — Many women fill critical roles in the modern military today, but it wasn't always that way. Seventy years ago, four Utahns helped open new doors whether they felt that way at the time or not.

As Utah Honor Flight veterans entered the World War II Memorial, they were showered with applause.

"My brother and my boyfriend were in the service, so I went too," Doris Harding from the Women's Army Corps said.

Among those who gathered the most attention from the crowd were the women of World War II.

"I was just flabbergasted. Couldn't believe it," Harding said. "They looked up to you like you had done something. All you did was do your duty."

Harding did not feel like a pioneer when she joined the Women's Army Corps and worked at the Pentagon.

Neither did Delila Olsen when she joined Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

"I just wanted to do something more for my country than what I was doing," Olsen said.

As a nurse in a military hospital, she treated wounded soldiers.

But, Jo Neilan, who also joined the WAVES, disagrees.

I was just flabbergasted. Couldn't believe it.They looked up to you like you had done something. All you did was do your duty.

–Doris Harding from the Women's Army Corps

"Well, we did do something. And now these girls are going in and doing much more than we were," Neilan said. "But, they wouldn't have had the chance if we hadn't helped them get there."

That's the way the young women surrounding them see it.

"It was great to see a woman veteran in a time when it was just so prominently men," said Shannon Rigby from Kaysville.

Audre Wells was one of the first female Marines.

"I lived an awful lot of it, and still do or I wouldn't be here," Wells said. "It's my pride and joy."

Most of the men in her family served, and she's been a leader in the American Legion for decades.

"I'd do it again,” Wells said.

They're military sisters of today, Neilan commented, at the real heroes.

“I think they are the real heroes. They're out there doing things that we wouldn't of been able to do," Neilan said.


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