When not manning the front at home with their duties as wives and mothers, sisters and daughters, many women stepped up to serve during World War II in both in the military and as part of the civilian work force. Women served in the Navy as WAVES, a pioneer among armed service branches to give women military benefits during wartime. Congressional debates ensued after the war about the continued role of women in the military. In contrast, the WASPs did not earn military distinction until 1977.
During World War II, women took on new roles in the Army as flight nurses and clerks and even served in civilian capacities in organizations like the USO. U.S. Army nurses were also among the thousands who participated in the first amphibious invasion of World War II by US forces during Operation Torch in North Africa. Slogging to shore in clothing sized for their male counterparts, these women helped to design life-saving combat triage that would be critical to improving mortality over the course of the war.
In addition to new opportunities in the military, women also found opportunity in factories and other jobs during World War II. The "arsenal of democracy"actively recruited women to 'man' the assembly lines that would provide heavy bombers to the war effort while freeing up men to fly them in combat.
These new experiences would impact women coming of age in World War II no matter where they served. And, it would have a profound impact on their daughters as they came of age in the 1960s, continuing to push the boundaries their mothers' had broken in the 1940s.