Jean Adams

Jean Adams Jean Adams celebrates Veterans Day and reflects on her service in the Women’s Army Auxilary Corps.[/caption]

Jean Adams said she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942 during World War II to help bring Robert Besson, her brother and prisoner of war, home.

Adams said she had not made up her mind about what she wanted to do following secretarial school. A family friend, who also served as an assistant to WAAC Director Oveta Culp Hobby, wife of the former Texas governor Willaim Hobby, told Adams’ mother the corps may be a good fit for Adams. Adams’ father and two older brothers—who all attended the U.S. Military Academy and served in the Army—were supportive of the idea, she said.

“I thought about [joining the WAAC] and certainly wanted to do something for the war effort,” she said. “If that would release a man to go fight, [and it brought] my brother home, then that was good. Sure enough, [in 1945 Besson] did come home.”

The WAAC allowed women to take on administrative roles in the Army and freed up men to go overseas for combat, Adams said. There were not many jobs for women in general during that time since most women went to school, married, had children and then stayed at home to take care of them, she said.

Jean Adams“When I was in [the WAAC], we did jobs that were far away from the fighting,” Adams said. “Apparently now it’s gotten so that there are even women in the front lines.”

She said the WAAC has been absorbed into many branches of the Army, and though it was not her intention to play a part in women eventually working in combat, women should do anything they feel they are capable of doing.

Adams said she worked in administrative roles in the WAAC, including serving as an inspector general at the Pentagon. She said her favorite
memory was hosting first lady Eleanor Roosevelt at the Fort Des Moines WAAC facilities for a day. 

“I think anyone would feel honored to get to host her,” Adams said. “[Roosevelt was] such a charismatic woman. Showing her around the facilities was an interesting experience.” 

Jean Adams Jean Adams (far right) is pictured with her brother Frank Jr., her mother Jean, and her father Frank Sr.[/caption]

Adams was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant when the WAAC became the Women’s Army Corps, an official part of the Army, in 1943.

After the WAAC, Adams went on to direct a service club for enlisted personnel at Fort Bend, Oregon, where her father was commander, her daughter Mary Worley said. She then joined her husband, Milton, a fighter pilot and career service member, as he was stationed throughout the world, she said.

Adams and her husband retired to Laredo, Texas, for two years before moving to retirement community Querencia at Barton Creek to be closer to two of their five children.

“We liked [Texas] very much,” Adams said. “People here are interesting, nice people.” 

Adams is one of 62 veterans in the retirement community, but she is the only one who served in the WAAC, Querencia representative Sarah Jackson said.

Adams said many of the veterans in her
community served in combat roles or as nurses in WWII or the Vietnam War.

“I was 22 when I joined [the WAAC],” she said. “Most women were older. I’ll be 96 in December. I’d imagine there aren’t that many of us left.”