Hear a woman vet's perspective on WWII

By Hannah Davis, hdavis@kwch.com
Published On: Nov 11 2013 05:53:24 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 12 2013 05:50:07 AM CST
WICHITA, KAN. -

Mary Cummings graduated college in New York in 1942 with a degree in English. She didn't want to teach, so she decide to join the navy. She became a member of the Women Accepted for Voluntary Service, but they called themselves WAVES.

"It was patriotic. You have to remember we were attacked at pearl harbor. To enlist was to do something out of the ordinary for a woman, but it was to do it for our country," Cummings said.

Cummings left her home in New York and was stationed in Florida. She was in charge of 35 young women, their duty was to train pilots to use a new system called "radar."

"It was very primitive, but it was the beginning of radar. It sounds ridiculous now, but it was all done by telephone and radio," Cummings said.

Cummings and the other women didn't serve on the battlefield, but they had their fair share of losses. It took a toll on the women when pilots didn't return.

"Many of the pilots would lose their sense of direction and we lost many men that way. So it was a sad time because you knew a lot of them," Cummings said.

Even through the difficult times, Cummings says she is grateful she took the opportunity.

"It was out of the ordinary for women of my time, but for women like me who wanted something a little different, it was the way to go," Cummings said.

Cummings served four years. Went she returned home she married William "Bill" Cummings, the man she calls the love of her life. Mary and Bill had six children and raised their family in Wichita where he took a job with Koch.