Keeping the System Moving
Southwest Pacific, 1945
Keeping the System MovingAmerica's mass mobilization to fight World War II brought large numbers of women into the newly created Women's Army Corps (WAC). They soon filled numerous administrative and technical positions, thus increasing the numbers of men, available for combat. For many of these women, promotion to NCO grade came quickly as they adapted to their military duties. Here a WAC first sergeant in the Southwest Pacific processes a newly arrived replacement on his way "up the pipeline" to the front.
Male and female soldiers in the rear areas in the Pacific theater wore the cotton khaki service uniform as basic attire. For comfort in the heat, local commanders had the option of allowing the troops to roll their sleeves up and leave their collars open, instead of wearing the regulation mohair necktie. As a protective measure in malaria areas, WACs could replace their skirts with slacks (or even altered male trousers). For comfort, female personnel traded their stockings and Cuban heel shoes for cotton anklets and high quarter russet field service shoes.
The garrison cap, worn with the khaki uniform and web belt, included cord edging braid in the branch colors (blue and red for the Adjutant General's Corps). The variation in shades and patterns of uniforms found in the theater reflected the inevitable loss of quality control as factory production surged in an attempt to keep pace with requirements. Significant variations also took place in the chevrons used to indicate NCOs. Wartime changes are reflected most noticeably by the increased role of the first sergeant, marked by the addition of a third "rocker," and by the creation of a parallel system of technical grades. These technical specialists were identified by a "T, " as worn by the technician, fourth grade, beginning inprocessing.