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MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELL
THE US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. THE PACIFIC

WAAC/WAC summer uniforms

The Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was created in 1942 to provide additional 'manpower' to the Army in administrative and support roles. They had only semi-official standing within the Army. The WAAC used Army rank insignia but had special rank titles, e.g. 'second officer' or 'third officer' and 'leader' for the equivalent of lieutenants and sergeants. They were paid at a rate one or two lower than their equivalent military rank. In 1943 the WAAC was converted into the Women's Army Corps (WAC) and became official members of the Army with full pay. In addition to 100,000 WACs, a further 60,000 members of the Army Nursing Service and some 1,000 WASPs (Women's Air Service Pilots) served in the Army in World War II; nurses and WASPs used their own uniforms and insignia, though their uniforms and the WACs' were eventually aligned.

Women (WAACs/WACs) initially wore khaki shirts and below-the-knee skirts for summer; for athletics and fatigue use in the USA they also had a light-coloured seersucker exercise suit to be worn with the 'Daisy Mae' hat. Officers additionally had a khaki cotton coat. The first model of this coat (initially with a cloth belt) had short transverse shoulder straps, false breast pockets, and slash pockets near the waist. The second model, available in 1943, had normal epaulettes; this was also authorised for enlisted wear in 1944. By 1945 a cotton khaki shirt and trouser combination slowly became available. Except in extremely hot conditions, ties were always worn (tucked in). Brown laced low-heel shoes, an issue purse (handbag), and the infamous kepi-style 'Hobby hat' in khaki were worn with this uniform. By 1944 a WAC pattern khaki overseas cap was available.

A group of WACs in the USA, 1945. Except for the technical corporal (right), these women all wear either the one- or two-piece version of the women's HBTs in medium or dark green - note angled flaps on the thigh pockets - with the 'Daisy Mae' hat; The 'tech corporal' wears the new 1945 khakis designed expressly for women, with an overseas cap bearing a unit crest.

WAACs universally wore the helmeted head of Pallas Athena as the lapel insignia of their branch, and had a special plain eagle cap badge and button design. The later WACs wore either the Athena or the standard branch lapel insignia of their attachment, except in infantry and artillery assignments, when the Athena was worn exclusively. The WAC also replaced the rather sad-looking 'walking buzzard' cap badge of the WAAC with the standard US Army eagle.

Service medals

Several service or campaign medals were awarded to Army personnel in World War II. These were given as both the (nil medals (rarely worn) and as ribbon bars. Small metallic devices (appurtenances) were attached to the ribbons to show further service. Army ribbon bars were l⅜in long and ⅜in high, and were worn in rows three or four wide. The mounting bars were originally pinback but by mid-war the modern style pin and clutch began to be used. Ribbon displays sewn on a cloth backing were also used by senior officers. Ribbons were authorised to be worn above the left pocket of service dress coats and sometimes of shirts, but not on combat or fatigue clothing. Gallantry awards were worn first (top), to be followed by (from the wearer's right to left) good conduct awards, campaign medals, and finally foreign awards.

The American Defense Medal was given to soldiers on active service between September 1939 and 7 December 1941; (his medal distinguished the old regulars and National Guardsmen from the new draftees. A 'foreign service' slide was worn on the medal ribbon by soldiers serving overseas (including Hawaii and Alaska) between those dates; a small (3/16in) bronze star on the ribbon bar represented this slide. This medal was authorised in late 1941.

The American Campaign Medal was awarded for one year's service in the Army between 7 December 1941 and 2 March 1946. Any combat service also qualified a CI to receive this medal. It was authorised in November 1942, and almost every soldier out of training would have received it.

The Asiatic-Pacific Medal ('A&P Medal') was authorised for service in that theatre between December 1941 and March 1946, and has precedence over the ETO Medal. A bronze star device was used to represent awards for participation in campaigns in theatre; a single silver star represented five campaign stars. There are 22 campaign stars possible in this theatre. An arrowhead device was used to mark participation in any amphibious or airborne operation; no more than one arrowhead was authorised for wear by any individual, but this rule was not always obeyed. The A&P Medal was authorised in late 1942.

The European-African-Middle Eastern Medal ('ETO Medal') was authorised for service in theatre between December 1941 and 8 November 1945; it was first issued in November 1942. Campaign stars and the invasion arrowhead were authorised as per the A&P Medal, and 16 campaign stars were possible for service in this theatre.

The Good Conduct Medal (GCM) was awarded to enlisted men who had completed a three-year enlistment with a clean record and superior efficiency. Only service after August 1940 counted. After Pearl Harbor the initial time period was reduced to one year. A tiny metal device shaped as a knot marked each additional award. Officers were not awarded the GCM, as they were always expected to display good conduct, though officers promoted from the enlisted ranks might wear it.

The Purple Heart Medal was awarded for wounds and some injuries received in action. (Frost-bitten feet qualified; trench foot did not.) Additional awards were represented by the use of oakleaf clusters on the ribbon.

The WAC Medal was awarded to Women's Army Auxiliary Corps members who agreed to enlist into the new WAC in 1943. Women joining the WAC after September 1943 were not eligible

The World War II Victory Medal was authorised for all members of the Army who had served between 7 December 1941 and VJ-Day, 2 September 1945.

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