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franklin county times

Military wives: Voices from the homefront

By By Penny Randall / staff writer
July 1, 2002
Helen Sharp had been married for three years and was only 19-years-old when her husband, Jesse, was ordered oversees to fight in World War II.
He was employed with the Federal Aviation Agency and they moved to various duty stations in the U.S. when he was called overseas.
Her first job was at a military base in Miami, where she tested the instruments on large transport planes, making sure they were accurate.
When her husband returned from the war, the couple moved to her hometown of Akron, Colo. They would return to Meridian in 1945, where Sharp would pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. In the ensuing years, she became an instructor at Matty Hersey Hospital and Meridian Community College.
Today, the couple has been married for 63 years.
Holding the homefront
Helen Sharp's experiences during the war years represent the all-too-unsung contributions of military wives to the war effort. While their husbands fought overseas, American wives held down the homefront, raising children and working at jobs previously reserved for men.
Wives were suddenly cast into the role of the family bread-winner and a new phase of American culture opened as many of them found jobs outside the home. The phenomenon resulted in a fundamental societal shift.
Meridian resident Velma Parker was also part of the change. She was 27 years old when her husband, the late William "Shorty" Parker" left for World War II.
The couple married in 1937. At the time he left to serve with the U.S. Army's Transportation Corp. in Europe, the couple had one daughter.
When it came to work, just like Helen Sharp, Parker felt it was her duty.
When the war began she was a secretary for a mill in Meridian and then a secretary for the quarter master at Key Field.
The term "like mother, like daughter" fits Parker perfectly. Her daughter, Cindi, is also a military wife. Cindi's husband, Col. David Greslin, currently serves in the U.S. Army stationed in San Antonio, Texas.
Parker was thankful she didn't lose her husband in the war, but her family did feel a lost.
On Nov. 6, 1942, her brother, George "Flats" Davis, was killed when the A-20 plane he was flying to a repair depot for maintenance went down.

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