A W.A.V.E. in Time
by Cate Murway
America…. there is a potent shine in your eyes that depicts hope.
“And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
In 1868, on May 5th, Memorial Day, originally called “Decoration Day,” was officially proclaimed by General John Alexander Logan [1826-1886], national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. General Logan asked that we cherish “tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes. Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders.”
But times change. In the 1960’s, our warriors were not welcomed back from battle with parades and cheers, and the fallen were not honored as they had been in the past.
They gave all their tomorrows for all our todays. It's a debt that can never be repaid.
“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the Star - Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
The veterans have earned nothing less than the highest respect, praise, and thanks from our entire country. It is up to us to preserve the sacredness of their sacrifice. They should not be forgotten.
Our Nation cries out for heroes and role models of strength, character, and inspiration but the passing of time and fading memories obscure those very heroes we need so badly, from our consciousness.
Audacious and aggressive, and willing to extend their experience beyond the physically familiar, all of the veterans put service above self and went where they were told to go, giving of their youth and health. They exemplified patriotism, honor, duty, and sacrifice.
"Some seek the limelight, and some hold the light in place."
On May 19th, the Red Dragon Canoe Club in Edgewater Park, NJ, presented a FREE event; open to the public, called “I Joined the W.A.V.E.S.”
Retired veteran, Jane “Betty” Schopp and her son, Paul W., provided highlights of her service to the nation during the Second World War in the presentation sponsored by the Shipman Mansion Foundation. “I am so thankful for my son. Paul is wonderful!”
Jane Elizabeth “Betty” [Fountain] Schopp graduated in 1943 from the Palmyra High School that was founded in 1895. She worked for awhile for the PA Railroad but her fiancé, Edgar M. Schopp [1920-1965], who was enlisted in the Army in the Persian Gulf command, was serving in Iran along with a corps of engineers building roads.
Betty started noticing recruiting posters in December 1943 and she started active duty in January 1944.
Edgar threatened, “If you go in the service, I’ll never marry you”.
Betty and Pastor Edgar had three children, historian Paul, daughter, Lois, and David who is a retired minister/ veteran who served on the USCGC Dallas [WHEC-716], a Coast Guard high endurance cutter commissioned in 1967.
Someone in the audience questioned during the PowerPoint, “What did your mother say?”
Betty’s solemn response was, “My mother died when I was nine months old.”
Her father, David Fountain worked on oil burners and “invented something mechanical for the Navy”.
The WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service] program was created in August 1942, a response to the need for additional military personnel during World War II. WAVES could not serve aboard combat ships or aircraft, and initially were restricted to duty in the continental U.S. Late in World War II, they were authorized to serve in certain overseas U.S. possessions, and a number were sent to Hawaii. At the end of WWII, 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.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
For this 91 year old veteran of Riverton, NJ, WWII hadn’t meant combat, instead just long hours of service. "I didn't see the world, but I saw some states," Betty previously shared.
“I enlisted on 13th Street in Philadelphia [Procurement office] and then they took us to the Hunter College campus, the U.S. Naval Training Center, Women's Reserve in The Bronx, NY for training before the troop train took us to Milledgeville, GA. We were just like Rosie the Riveter…. We met the need!”
Betty graduated as “Storekeeper 3rd Class”, able to handle underground storage tanks, and hand out and take inventory of airplane parts, as well as unload the trucks. Her first assignment was the Mercer Naval Air Station in Trenton and she later earned her 2nd Class ranking.
In class, she studied to learn all of the parts of an airplane, "at one point, I knew all the parts of a plane from tip to tip”, and how to pack a parachute.
"First Call"/"Reveille" was 5:00 in the morning. “We drilled and marched and learned how to conduct ourselves in the military fashion, and we learned how to make beds with the sheets very tight. They threw a coin on it and it had to bounce.” Her group practiced marksmanship and Betty was a “sharp-shooter” in pistol training. “Just don’t ask me to do it now.”
Her pay? $50.00 a month!
During the Second World War, American couturier Main Rousseau Bocher [1890–1976], also known as “Mainbocher”, lent his designs to the American Navy for the creation of the uniforms for this women- only division of the Navy.
Betty sold War Bonds in the Palmyra Theatre and she and the other members of a glee club trio entertained the troops in Fort Dix. They “hitchhiked” on planes with one of the trips landing in Chicago, IL, where they stayed in the Blackstone Hotel.
While in NYC, as long as they were in uniform, they would receive free tickets to any show at the Radio City Music Hall. “We saw the Rockettes!”
On August 14, 1945, it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II.
The V-J Day celebration was a historic occasion. “We couldn’t even move.”
EVERY day should be Memorial Day! We should never forget those who spent their lives protecting ours.
The veterans were honored and remembered by the Robert W. Bracken American Legion Post No. 382 that hosted ceremonies throughout historic Bristol on the Delaware with a gun salute, a prayer and the sounding of taps.
The first ceremony began at the Veterans Memorial on Farragut Avenue with raising of the flag at the site. The next ceremony at St. Mark Church cemetery on Radcliffe Street included a prayer by Rev. Dennis Mooney. It continued at St. James the Greater Episcopal Church on Walnut Street where the Rev. Marlee R.J. Norton led the prayer. The day’s ceremonies culminated at the Bristol Cemetery.
We’ve Thanked You Less than You’ve Deserved.
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