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Home Front Heroines
The unflappable women who protected the home front while the men waged war in Europe and Asia have always fascinated me. Whether it was cooking meals within the rationed potions or working the graveyard shift at the local bomber plant, these women took their duties very seriously--to provide and protect our country for our men to come home to. So when Mark Hopkins shared this next bit of history with me, I knew I had to share it. I'm going to let Mark tell it:
'In December, 1941, Muscatine Community College in Eastern Iowa had over 250 students, mostly men, studying for associate degrees or preparing to move to the larger Iowa State to further their education. Started in 1929, the school had survived the lean years of the Great Depression, but by the time Christmas Break arrived, their student population had dwindled to barely 25 students. The very real possibility the school would shut down dampened the holiday season for the facility and staff.
Faced with this situation, Louise Gaekle and Willetta Strand, teachers at the school, began brainstorming ways to help the college survive. Aware of the shortage of trained pilots, the two women devised a plan—open a ground school and offer flight training at a local airport. But that meant the women would have to learn to fly themselves. Together, they drove to the Quad Cities Airport and signed up for classes.
When Louise and Willetta finished their training, they requested pilot trainees from the Department of Defense and were sent their first 40 pupils. Over the next five years, these two women taught over 400 men to fly as well as kept the doors to their beloved school open. When the war end, Louise went back to teaching math while Willetta taught history.
Amazing, the strength and faith of these women!
Blog Contest question: What US general commanded an army of balloons to divert Hitler's attention in the days before the D-Day invasion?
Answer: General George Patton