What Did You Do In World War II?


Grandchildren often pester veterans with the time worn question, “What did you do in World War Two?”  They expect stories of derring-do, but when it is my turn to comply I try to skip any reference to my army stint.


However, if they persist and in an effort to get on to more interesting subjects I tell them about what happened the day Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby, head honcho of all WACs (Women’s Army Corps), came to inspect the troops at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.


We all stood at attention under the blazing hot August sun awaiting the arrival of the high brass.  Now the military stance is one of rigid posture, devoid of any movement-even the slightest shrug or twitch can be observed, so bodies are frozen in place.


The Colonel was late, as usual, so our long-sleeved Army shirts were plastered to our arms and our feet were fastly becoming numb.  When she did finally arrive we braced ourselves for inspection.


However, when she was almost upon us I noted, with horror, a huge black beetle-like bug lighting on the collar of the woman just ahead of me.  It waltzed back and forth, and had the audacity to stretch a leg, and then it stopped as if considering a trip down that soldier’s nape, just below the collar.


Here I always hesitate for dramatic effect; if the kids are still listening.


Chances were the black creature was a biting kind and if it chomped or fluttered or crawled about that woman would screech or move and that would have absolutely spoiled our formation.


It was time to act.  I couldn’t move.  But, I could blow-without being detected.  And so I did.  Great blasts of air came from me, just in the nick of time, blowing the bug off the woman.  It struggled, and then flew off in a lopsided way.


It was a maneuver that went unnoticed and we even managed a passable review.


After that story I am never asked for any more details of my Army life.


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Missouri