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Collection Mabelle R. Ewald
WVM ID Number OH 1105
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Mabelle R. Ewald
Date 2007
Event World War II
Narrator's Name Mabelle R. Ewald
Interviewer's Name John Driscoll
Description In this oral history interview, Mabelle "Mibs" Ewald, a Chicago native, discusses her Marine Corps service during World War II.

Ewald touches upon her early life; mentioning how the Depression and her need to help support her family as the eldest of four children derailed her plans to attend free community college. Instead, she got a job as a comptometer operator in downtown Chicago before her enlistment on her twenty-first birthday. Ewald cites three reasons for her enlistment: patriotism, having nothing to do with herself while her fiancé was in service, and wanting to get away from her parents' arguments at home. She recalls that her father, a World War I Marine, was ecstatic; but her fiancé was initially very angry about her decision. Called to active duty in September 1943, Ewald trained at Camp Lejeune (North Carolina) and characterizes her basic training as "scary," including the train ride down. Although the women were not trained in combat, they were exposed to guns, gas, etc. and understood they were freeing a man to fight. She says that initially all of her drill instructors were men except for Sergeant Birch who was "the biggest woman she ever saw." Ewald discusses the work she did as paymaster at Henderson Hall in Arlington (West Virginia) and Camp Pendleton (California) that included calculation of allotments and insurance. She illustrates the care given to details and tells of taking a table outside on payday with the captain sitting with "all this cash in front of him." He dealt out the cash while she stood behind him watching because if mistakes were made they'd be up all night. She says she was sent to San Diego and her discharge held up so she could assist in paying the men returning from overseas. She was then discharged in San Diego, but couldn't return home as the men had transportation priority (which she declares as rightfully so). Since her fiancé got home in November and she wanted to be home for Christmas, she and two fellow women Marines hitchhiked from San Diego to Dallas where they were able to get transportation home.

She talks about her marriage and raising six children first in Elmhurst (Illinois) and then in Mazomanie (Wisconsin). She speaks of finally joining the Women Marine Association in 1999 and that she communicated for a long time with several of her service buddies, but eventually stopped. Ewald tells of calling her best buddy, Ruth Riddlin, during a trip out east for elder hostel and their meeting in the hospital where the nurses put polish on Ruth's fingernails for the occasion. Finally, she touches on the military experience of her late husband, who was involved in bomb disposal, claiming that his letters were quite censored.
Extent and Medium of Description Analog audio recording: 1 audio tape (approx. 45 minutes)
Transcript: 29 pgs
Reproduction Conditions / Copyright WVM owns copyright to this material. Contact the WVM Research Center for further information about Terms of Use.
Biographical Record Ewald, Mabelle R.