Each year on Veterans Day (November 11) a ceremony is held to honor veterans. Also, residents of Sunny Isles Beach who have served in the United States Military and have completed a nomination for veterans wall application, are added to the Heritage Park History Wall (19200 Collins Avenue). If the names on the wall are studied closely, there appears to be an omission. There are no women listed on the wall. This is not because women are not allowed; it is because no women veterans living in Sunny Isles Beach have completed an application to be placed on the wall. We know women military veterans are out there and we want you on the wall!
Did you know it wasn’t accepted for women to serve in the military until the First World War, where many served as nurses and telephone operators? During the Second World War, with so many of the men going overseas, there was a need for more military jobs to be filled by women. Women usually joined one of three organizations: the Women’s [Auxiliary] Army Corps (WACS), the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES) associated with the Navy, or the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS). The WACS had full military status serving in non-combatant positions both oversees and stateside; the WAVES were considered reservists and provided support stateside. The WASPS were considered civil service employees. It was not until recent times that the WASPS were recognized for their contributions and elevated to the status of U.S. Military Veterans.
More than 150,000 women served in the WACS during WWII. Initially most worked as file clerks, typists, stenographers, or motor pool drivers, but gradually began filling positions such as: weather observers and forecasters, cryptographers, radio operators and repairmen, sheet metal workers, parachute riggers, link trainer instructors, bombsight maintenance specialists, aerial photograph analysts, statistical control tabulating machine operators and control tower operators.
The WAVES could not serve in combatroles during WWII and were initially restricted to duty in the continental United States. Towards the end of the war, WAVES were authorized to serve in certain overseas U.S. possessions, and a number were sent to Hawaii. By the end of the war, there were well over 8,000 female officers and some ten times that many enlisted WAVES, about 2-1/2 percent of the Navy’s total strength. Many stayed on after the war to help the Navy into, and through, the post-war era. The WASPS were women who already held private pilot licenses and who then applied to work for the government in what was then considered a civil service position. The lady pilots were used to move planes from factories to bases. By the women taking on these jobs, it meant there were more male pilots available for combat duty. More than thirty of these pilots lost their lives moving airplanes for the military; however they were not granted military honors or benefits until 1977 when they received full military status. They were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on March 10, 2010.
In the times we live in, women serve in all branches of the military. The City of Sunny Isles Beach is looking for veterans, both men and women, who live in or have lived in the City and would like their names added to the Veterans Wall. You can nominate yourself; wives can nominate husbands or sons can nominate mothers. Applications may be picked up at the reception desks of the Sunny Isles Beach Government Center or Pelican Community Park. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sibfl.net. On November 11th at Heritage Park, all veterans are recognized and additional names placed on the wall.
The deadline for applications is September 1st each year. So, come on ladies, we know there are women military veterans out there. We would love to have your names included on the wall along with the guys! For questions call Cultural and Community Services at 305.792.1706.