Birthday: December 15, 1924
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Family: Carl and Emma Mueller
Branch: Coast Guard SPARS
Unit: 11th Naval District, Long Beach, CA
Rank: 3rd Class Storekeeper
During WW2, Elisabeth Grace was a member of a reserve group called the SPARS, which was a unit of the Coast Guard. The name SPAR comes from the first letters of the Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus, when translated to English it means Always Ready. The SPARS filled administrative jobs to free Coast Guard men for sea duty during WW2. When the war ended, the SPARS had 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 officers.
"Women could not be drafted into the war so they had to enlist. To enlist, you had to be at least twenty years of age and also have a parent's consent or else you had to be twenty-one years of age and didn't need a parent's consent. I was anxious to get involved in the war. I didn't enlist because all my friends were doing it or because my family wanted me to. I was all alone when I left and didn't know anyone when I got there either. I just thought it would be an interesting experience." So when Elisabeth turned twenty years old, in March of 1945, she got her parent's consent and enlisted.
It was not common for women to enlist in the war. Women who did were often called nasty names and discouraged by people in their community. Elisabeth experienced some negative reaction when she decided to enlist. "There were many people who told me it wasn't a very good idea for me to enlist, but my worst objector was my minister."
Women had an entirely different part in the war than men. The men fought and killed, but the women never saw that sort-of action. "It was like going off to college for me. When I left my home in Chicago I traveled to Brooklyn, New York for six weeks for basic training. This was followed with three months of training to become a Storekeeper 3rd Class. Then after my basic training was over I was sent to Long Beach, California. There I lived in a residential hotel on the ocean, which was really nice. We had officers in charge and there were a few guards around our hotel. We were also under military orders which we had to follow. I worked in an office building nearby. For meals we went to another building nearby, which was like a big mess hall where everyone stood in line and the food was excellent. When the war was coming to an end, they closed it so we just ate on our own. All I can say was it was like going away to school, but a lot more rules and orders to follow."
Before Elisabeth left for the war she worked in a bank. Many businesses promised their employees that if they went to war they would get their same job when they came home from the war, sometimes you did and sometimes you didn't. Elisabeth was one of the fortunate, she got her job back. "When I got home I went back to work and then back to school and then I got married. A lot of places where people worked had a policy that if you got married you had to quit your job."
under Learn and Serve American Grant #00LSFWI104