Many years of strong, patriotic women serving the United States

Sean McGowan

The way the story is told today leaves many Americans with the impression that womens’ roles in World War II took place in the factories close to home.

“Often times we will tell the story of ‘Rosie the Riveter,’” Junius Rodriguez, Eureka College history professor, said.

But the reality is that almost 400,000 women served in the armed forces at the time. Their jobs ranged from nurse to cryptanalytic aide to performing clerical work.

“There were a handful of them that received purple hearts for their service,” Rodriguez said.

One Woodford County resident earned the WWII Victory Medal with Battle Star. The honor is given to anyone who served at least one day of active service between December 1941 and December 1946. El Paso resident Norma Schuler dedicated approximately two years of her life to the war effort.

“She’s a very gracious lady,” Karen Fyke, Woodford County historical society secretary, said.

Having attended St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing, Schuler was  first stationed in 1943 as a nurse at Fort Adams in Rhode Island. She then went on to Camp Kilmer, N.J., before ending up in Gororick, Scotland, in 1944.

She continued to move from country to country throughout the war; however, most noteworthy was her time in France as one of the first nursing units in Paris.

Schuler returned to El Paso after the war to become a school nurse in El Paso-Gridley’s School District 11.

At the same time as Schuler, Annette Dyar Sherman offered her services in WWII. She served as a cryptanalytic aide in the signal corps. Specifically, she helped to analyze and solve codes written by opposing nations to determine threats against ally troops.

Sherman went to Eureka College and lived on Darst Street, two blocks east of Main Street, before the war. She returned to Eureka and became a librarian. In 2010, she boarded a plane for an overnight honor flight to Washington, D.C.

“Annette never considered herself much in the military,” Fyke said referring to the surprise Sherman felt when selected as part of the honor flight crew.

“I included her in our veteran’s book because it seems to me she is a veteran.”

Many other Woodford County residents involved themselves in the military at some point in time. Fyke listed a handful in her book, but the following is 10 names from the list:

• Brooke M. Bachman; Air Force, Critical Care Nurse, 149th Fighter Wing, San Antonio, Texas, 2004.

• Betty Aldrich Bechtel, War Crimes Commission, Wiesbaden, Germany, 1945-47. Married Robert Aldrich and had two children. Buried at Walnut Creek, Calif.

• Jennifer Robinson Burton, Army Reserves, Command Sergeant Major, 2011. Served with multiple units from a small medical detachment of approximately 15 people. She was a medic, sergeant, generator operator and truck driver. She married Bill Burton and in 2012 they lived in Eureka.

• Chevonne Krone Fragel-Chevy entered the Army in 2005, trained as a combat medic. Served in Afghanistan in 2008-09 and was an E-4 in 2010. She was married and had three children.

• Aldena L. Dunlap Goetzinger received her nurses training at Cook County Hospital School of Nursing. Graduated from Eureka College and served in the Army Nurse Corps in the Philippines during WWII. After the war, she worked as a nurse in Panama for the civil service where she met her husband Sam. They had five children. She died May 30, 2008, and is buried in Goodfield-Congerville Apostolic Church Cemetery.

• Mary Ann Doyle Grusy was born in 1916 and served in the Army Air Corps from 1942-45. Married Robert Grusy, Sr. and had three children. She died Dec. 12, 1997, and is buried in Olio Cemetery in Eureka.

• Karen Elizabeth Hines - Born in Germany in 1954, graduated from high school in Maryland in 1973. Joined the Army in the mid-1980s and served by flying helicopters in Germany. After her military discharge, she attended the University of Florida at Gainesville, receiving her bachelor’s degree in education in 1994 which she followed with a master’s degree in 1995. In 2006 she moved to Kappa where she died Feb. 17, 2012.

• Ida Pearl Hoffman - lived in Spring Bay before serving in the Women’s Army Corps in WWII.

• Kim Holmes - served in the Army Reserve 1986-94. She was stationed at Fort Sheridan as a computer programmer. She married Michael Holmes and they had four children. She was widowed in 1996. She currently works in the assessor’s office in the Woodford County Courthouse.

• Barbara A. Glaser Johnson - served as a Medical Technician. She served with the 182nd Medical Unit in Peoria until she was discharged in 2000. She married Scott Glaser and they had three children. She worked as a cable service salesperson and was living in Lacon in 2012.

Source: “Veteran’s of Woodford County: Respect and Remember”