|Eloise Ann Russell
Womens Army Auxiliary Corps
Fort Des Moines, Des Moines, Iowa
This page displays a grouping in my private collection relating to the military service of Sgt. Eloise Ann Russell, the
sister of Kenneth and Ralph Russell, both WWII bomber pilots whose' groupings are also part of my private
collection. (You can view their groupings by clicking HERE.) The Russell family certainly did their part during the
war, providing the United States military with two sons and a daughter for patriotic service. This page will document
the service time of Eloise Russell and her time in the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), later changed to the
Womens Army Corps (WAC) during WWII.
Eloise's grouping consisted of many photographs, letters, her US Army dog tags and other items. This page is
intended as a tribute to Eloise and the other WACs who served so admirably during WWII, allowing men of fighting
age to be utilized in front line service and other much needed positions. Often an overlooked group, the WACs were a
vital part of America winning WWII against the Axis.
A brief history of the WAAC/WAC:
Massachusetts Congresswoman Edith N. Rogers introduced the first bill to establish a women's auxiliary in May
1941. On May 14, 1942, Congress approved the creation of a Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), and within
days, Oveta C. Hobby was appointed the first Director of the WAAC.
Five training centers were opened within a year. The first at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, the second at Daytona Beach,
Florida, the third at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, the fourth at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and the fifth at Camp Ruston,
Louisiana. As an auxiliary of the Army, the WAAC had no military status, therefore Mrs. Rogers introduced another
bill in 1943 to enlist and appoint women in the Army of the United States. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the
bill on July 1, 1943. Three months later the WAAC was discontinued and in its place was the Women's Army Corps
(WAC). Colonel Hobby continued as Director of the WAC.
Over 150,000 American women would go on to serve in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during the war. Members
of the WAC were the first women other than nurses to serve within the ranks of the United States Army. WAC
applicants had to be U.S. citizens, between the ages of 21 and 45 with no dependents, be at least five feet tall, and
weigh 100 pounds or more. WAC members would go on to serve in a large number of technical jobs assisting the
United States Army in freeing up able bodied men to serve in front line combat units.
The Women's Army Corps was disbanded on October 29th, 1978 by an Act of Congress.
For a more detailed look at the history of the WAAC/WAC, visit the following link:
The C.E. Daniel Collection
|If anyone has any additional information about any of the men and women shown on this page, or if you have seen
any errors, I would appreciate hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.
| A Fort Des Moines photograph dated August 8, 1942, identifying the three spectators in the foreground of the
photo as Maj. Fowler, Col. Faith, and Col. Hobby.
Left: A Fort Des Moines photo dated 9/42
identifying these as the "Staff - Summer 1942" as:
Mr. Mischio (W.O.), B. Brust, Russell, Forster,
Zimmermann, Wagner and Clarke.
Right: Another "Summer Staff" photo from
September 1942 identifying the follow as (L to R):
Louisa Dungan, Chris Walsh, Eva Forrester (Sgt.), E.
Zimmerman, Vera Wilson, E. Russell and Bernice
|A 1942 dated photograph of the "Winter Staff." None of the persons in the photograph are identified
on the photo, although Eloise can be seen standing third from the right, and the gentleman on the far
right appears to be Lt. Turner shown below..
|Two photographs of a man identified only as "Capt. Darrah."
|Obviously the women maintained a terrific sense of humor during their service time.
|Sgt. Eloise Ann Russell - US Army
Little is known about the military service of Eloise Russell other than information taken from her personal wartime
letters and those of her brothers. Given the information found among her items, Eloise was part of the first group of
WAACs to enter into service in the United States Army during WWII. Eloise was part of the first group of women to
undergo military training at Fort Des Moines, arriving for service on July 21, 1942. By September 1942, Eloise was
serving as a Specialist Second Class, helping to process the new WAACs arriving at the post. BY October 1942, she
was working as the Assistant Chief Clerk, still helping to process the new arrivals. By November of 1942, Eloise was
hoping for an appointment to a nearby radio school, while still serving as Assistant Chief Clerk. That same month
found Eloise bivouacked at the Aladdin Hotel in Kansas City while in radio school, with her roommates; Kay Kylins
and Thelma Haskell, two close friends during her service time.
January 1943 brought a visit to the radio school by Col. Hobby, commanding officer of the WAACs, with Col.
Hobby and Eleanor Roosevely making a second visit on February 16, 1943. Eloise made kind comments regarding
Mrs. Roosevelt during her visit. By March, Eloise was hoping for a transfer to a base in Santa Ana to be closer to her
mother. In a letter dated April 1, 1943, Eloise wrote to her mother telling her that she heard the WAAC were to become
the WAC and would join the regular Army. Eloise remarked that if the WAAC became part of the regular Army, she
would resign and leave the service, having no desire to be in the regular Army. In a letter dated July 9th, Eloise writes
to her mother stating that she may join the United States Marine Corps if she leaves the WAAC, hoping to get posted
to a more forward position. She also states that she wishes her brother Kenneth and "Donna" would get married
instead of waiting for Kenneth to graduate from flight school and receive his commission which is only a month away.
By July 18, Eloise was posted to Stockton Field where she was working in the control tower. In a letter dated July
29, Eloise describes how the WAACs have been taken off of control tower duty as the commanding office doesn't
believe the womens' voices are suitable for control tower duty. Eloise indicates she has been washing airplanes for
the past ten days and enjoying being outside in the sun.
On August 6, 1943, Eloise stood-by and watched as members of the WAAC became the WAC, attending the
ceremony which made the WAC part of ther regular United States Army. By her estimation, one quarter of the WAACs
were leaving the service, not wanting to be part of the regular Army.
The next letter in Eloise's grouping is dated May 9, 1945. Writing to her brother Forrest, Eloise remarks how happy
she is that the war in Europe is over. She also relates how women are losing their war jobs at home as a result of
servicemen returning from Europe. With great disgust, she indicates her disappointment for those "draft dodging"
men who didn't go off to war, stayed behind and lazily worked in the factories, and who were still retaining their jobs
while hard working women were being let go.
Eloise's letters show her tremendous amount of patriotism, often encouraging her mother to skimp and save to
buy war bonds to support the war, while continuously encouraging her brother Forrest to enlist in one of the armed
services to do his part in the war. Her letters also display a deep amount of affection for her entire family and a sense
of pride in the military service of her brother Kenneth.
There is no additional information about Eloise after the war, and it is hoped that continued investigation and
research will reveal more about the post-war life of Eloise.
|Photographs of a proud Eloise while stationed at Fort Des Moines.
The photographs and information provided on this page show a very small cross section
of the overall photographs and documents in Eloise's grouping. Eloise took many
photographs of Fort Des Moines and the various WAAC members that she served with.
Some were identified while others remain a mystery, their identities lost to time.
This grouping is a terrific look into the early days of the WAAC and their service time at
Fort Des Moines. Eloise's letters provide an informative look into the early days of the WAAC
and what their service members experienced while in the service of the United States armed
This grouping, along with those of Kenneth and Forrest Russell, show the extreme
patriotism exhibited by the Russell family during the war. Although generally out of my area
of preservation, this grouping is a welcome addition to my private collection for both the
historical content found within it, and for its relationship to the military service of Kenneth and
As with the other items displayed on this website from my private collection, the grouping
is not for sale, and will forever be preserved with the groupings from Kenneth and Forrest
|This page is dedicated to Eloise and the other brave and patriotic women who sacrificed their time and lives to
service in the WAAC/WAC during the war. Without these selfless and dedicated women, the war against the Axis
would have been hampered and undoubtedly more difficult. It is because of their service, that a great many men
were freed up and allowed to be moved to front line units. As with all who served, their service should never be
|Identified staff members at Fort Des Moines:
An 8x10 photograph found among Eloise's grouping. The reverse of the wartime era photograph has the names
of a number of women written, some with their home addresses at the time. Some of the names are easily
recognizable while others are difficult to read. The names appear as the following with no order indicated:
Mimi Gerber (Houston, Texas), Gertude Walters Chicago, Ill.), Lucy Oatori (Winter Haven, Fl.), Juanita Redmeana
(Glendale, Ca.), Thelma Haskell (Detroit, Mi.), Sarah Epstein (Brooklyn, NY.), Beverly Harris (New Orleans, La.), Phyliss
Wykoff (West Union, Oh.), Mary Moffett (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Ingeborg Olson (Chicago, Ill.), Florence Hobson (?)
(unreadable location), Lavon Widness (St. Paul, Minn.), Ferne Updike (Holt, Mi.), Esther Givens (Denver, Co.), Gota
Lickerman (?) (Brooklyn, NY.), Edith Abranowski(?) (unk city, Minn.), Beatrice Serber (?) (Philadelphia, Pa.), Berta Kloif
(?) (Brooklyn, NY.), unk. first name Barr (New Rochelle, NJ.), Joyce Rea (North Muskegon, Mi.), Marjorie A. Moryi (?)
(Ann Arbor, Mi.), Barbara Schneiner (?) (Portland, Or.), Doris, Herman (Omaha, Ne.), Joe Wagner (Kansas City, Mo.),
Phyllis Haskamp (Glasgow, Mo.), Lynda Jones (Los Angeles, Ca.), Mary Agrim (Detroit, Mi.), Ruth Lundgard (New York
Mills, NY.), Ann O'Donnell (Langford, Pa.), Ruth Ebner (Sandusky, Oh.), unknown name (Cincinatti, Oh.), Dora Ohlberg
(?) (Sheboygan, Wi.).
A small tag at the bottom of the photograph indicates the photo was taken by Glenn Rider in Kansas City, Mo. It is
not known when this original, wartime photograph was taken. If anyone has any information concerning this
photograph or the correct identification of the women pictured, I would appreciate hearing from you.
Eloise, her mother Joie and her brother Forrest (USAAF).
Eloise and Forrest.