Barbara's WWII Stories

Barbara’s Stories

Barbara Graduated from BYU in Nutrition and Food Services June 9, 1943 and was offered the position of managing the dining room in the old BYU Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Her parents were thrilled. Shortly afterward, however, she was walking down a street in Salt Lake City and noticed a large poster in the window of the Marine recruiting office. It advertised a new organization in the Corps referred to as the Marine Corps Women's Reserve (MCWR), which was designed to free up male Marines for combat duties. Barbara felt the urge to join, and immediately did so. She said that her parents were shocked by this and tried to persuade her not to go through with the enlistment. However, Barbara entered training at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina where they soon found out that she was trained in cooking and food services. She was promoted and put in charge of training Marine cooks. She told about how many of the male Marines were a bit miffed by her quick rise in rank.  (When Paul and Barbara were married, she out-ranked him because of her promotion.)

As part of Barbara's duties, she oversaw the officers' mess or dining hall. One day, one of the cooks was way behind in getting the salad prepared. Barbara moved in to assist and began mixing the large bowl of salad with her hands. (In those days, gloves were not required.) The meal was prepared on time and Barbara breathed a sigh of relief. In a few minutes, however, as the senior cook and supervisor, she was summoned to the mess area where one of the officers had found a ring in his salad. Barbara very quickly discovered that it was her engagement ring. The officer gave it back and then gave her a scathing rebuke, stating that this would never happen again. Despite the incident, Barbara retained her rank and her position, along with getting back her engagement ring, which from then on, she wore on a chain around her neck.

When Barbara and Paul were married in Wilmington, North Carolina, he was on leave from the Navy and she was still in the Marines. However, after their short honeymoon, and just before Paul was to leave to return to his unit, Barbara was called to come to her commander’s office. He pulled out a sheet of paper from a stack on top of his desk.  It was an order discharging Barbara from the Marine Corps. She was not being discharged because she was now married, but because of a request she had made for a compassionate discharge to return home to assist her ailing mother. Barbara had not expected her request to be considered as quickly as it was, much less to have it approved so quickly. However, due to the discharge, Paul and Barbara were able to travel together by train back to Utah where they were met by both sets of parents.  Because of the ongoing war, an exception was made to the one-year waiting requirement, and the newlyweds were sealed in the Logan Temple within a few days of their return to Utah.

Barbara told how during the train trip back to Utah, the passenger cars were filled to capacity. Since Paul and Barbara were in uniform, they were given priority ticketing. At one juncture, another couple was bumped to give she and Paul their seats. Whenever Barbara talked about this experience, she said how sorry she was for the two who got bumped and always wondered if they had made it to their planned destination on time.