Serve #12 -Mabel , World War II Veteran
On a recent photo shoot my good friend Scott Whitman and I had the grand opportunity to meet a spunky lady with a great story. While I photographed, Scott wrote down her story. Serve #12 is Mabel S.
Mabel defies expectations. She’s full of wit and humor, and maybe just a little spit and vinegar, too. Perhaps what you’d expect from a girl who decided to sign up for the military and leave home to find adventure. With a twinkle in her eye she says, “don’t write that down, it’s off the record.” What makes all that so great is Mabel is 96. In the midst of World War II, Mabel volunteered for the Navy Hospital Corps. As the oldest of six girls, with no boys in the family, she said she volunteered “because I felt it was my duty. It was the thing to do.” Everyone was signing up for the war effort, if they could. Mabel said, “All my boyfriends had already gone into the service, and my girlfriends too.” Her only regret was she didn’t sign up sooner. “I waited until I was in my 20’s,” she said. Mabel and her fellow Navy “WAVES” – the nickname given the “women accepted in volunteer emergency service” – cared for the broken ones, the survivors, when they came home. She said, “The boys on the combat front went through a lot, saw some terrible things. Things you don’t want to think about.” She viewed her own role as more than changing bandages and bed pans. She wanted to give these soldiers hope, help them heal, rediscover their humanity, be normal ‘boys’ again. Of course, Mabel didn’t say it in those words. From her perspective, she was just saying a kind word, bringing a glass of cold water, making a dying soldier a bowl of Jello when his scorched throat hurt too much to swallow anything else. Those simple acts of kindness took on monumental significance in the eyes of the young men who had seen so much. Several were moved to extreme expressions of gratitude. As she put it modestly, “I received more than one marriage proposal, and lots of very overly-friendly letters, which tended to get them in some trouble.” Despite the light and kindness she brought to those injured lives, Mabel still questions whether or not she gave her “full share.” She has the humility of a generation that knows what real sacrifice and service means. She said reflectively, “I never served on the front, but I think I was serving my purpose.” Indeed you did, Mabel. From all of us in the following generations so blessed by the battles you won, and the lives you saved, thank you for your service.
~ Story by Scott Whitman, AgriLife Studios ~
“Tell Your Story”