Agnes Maye Arrington
Life in the United States Air Force
Interviewed By: Ronnie Earnest Hines Jr.
April 6, 2005
Ronnie: Where were you born?
m:Ja cksonville Florida
Ronnie: How many siblings do you have?
Mave: I had two half-brothers and two whole ones.
Ronnie: What High School did you attend?
Mave: Muhogee High School of West Palm Beach County
Ronnie: What helped you make the decision to go into the
Mavq: I was a nurse and not long after I finished nursing
school, the build up started
for WWII, Europe was having a lot of fighting and
Poland had fallen, and so more and more of our young
men were being drafted and I wanted to be a part of
the whole thing,
Ronnie: Why did you pick the Army?
Mave: I did not meet the Navy requirements.
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Ronnie: A very good reason.
Mave: I was too under weight,
Ronnie: Usually that is not a problem.
Mave: It was. They had to take me in on a waver because I
was 20 pounds under weight.
Ronnie: What was the reaction of your family when you
decided to join the Military?
Ronnie: They were afraid?
Mave: They thought I didn't know what I was doing.
Ronnie: Did being a woman at that time make that decision
that much harder or was it just something that just
came to you?
Mave: No. They were three of us in high school that went
off to be nurses together and then we went off to be in
the Army together, and then we went to Fort Benning,
Ronnie: So when you went in, did you face any obstacles by
being female or were you treated ...
Mave: No! When we got to Fort Benning there were three
thousand young men in the infantry school.
Ronnie: What year did you actually join the military?
Mave: September 15, 1941, I had my 2znd birthday on
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Ronnie: So your first job in the Army was as a nurse?
Ronnie: So, you enlisted solely to be a nurse, was that your
Mave: No, I was already a nurse I went into serve as a
Ronnie: Were you aware at that time of any fields that
women were not allowed to be in the Military?
Mave: No. Later on women got into everything, but we just
did women things, I didn't notice any restrictions.
Ronnie: Did you notice any overall tones toward women by
other enlisted personnel or were you just equals?
Mave: Yes! And they were so happy to have us!
Ronnie: What was the housing situation like during your
early military days for women?
Mave: We lived in the nurses' quarters, dormitory style
living. We each had our private little room. We ate in
the mess hall; we had our own mess hall.
Ronnie: What rank were you when you enter the military?
Mave: We had what they call relative rank, and we were
called Miss, it was equivalent to a Second Lieutenant
and then later we were in the Army of the United
States and were made full Lieutenants, with equal
rights and equal pay.
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Ronnie: That's great. During World War 11, were there any
accommodations that you received from the War?
Mave: There was one on our rainbow of ribbons that
indicated that you were serving when Pearl Harbor
happened. Then it shows that I served in the Pacific
theater and another one for the Army of Occupation in
Japan. I can't remember, that was 60 years ago.
Ronnie: That was plenty of awards right there. How did the
tone of the Army stay during WWII, was it an anxious
tone or did it remain the same?
Mave: No, it was just a glorious adventure. Everybody knew
that we were going to win, and so when you are on the
side of the winner everything is q~crr-sh.
+ , ~ , q 6 2
Ronnie: When the Air Force came in existence, when you
switched from the Army to the Air Corp at that time did
you have a choice?
Ronnis: Why did you choose to go into the Air Force at that
Mave: I had not yet been to Flight School; I wanted to go to
Ronnie: So when you entered the Air Force were you
allowed to enter Flight School.
Mave: Oh no, they didn't have such a thing.
Ronnie: That was a no go.
Mave: That didn't come along until later.
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Ronnie: When you made the change over from the Army to
the Air Force what were some of the differences that
Mave: Everyday duty things - not any.
Ronnie: Just did the same oh, same oh.
Mave: Just hospital duties and taking care of the sick.
Ronnie: I know at that time there was some
resentment from the old Army to the new Air Force, did
you experience any of that or was everybody on the
same team and let's just go and do our job?
Mave: I didn't notice any resentment.
Ronnie: So did you feel any ...
Mave: Just the same that we were here till it's over.
m: When the Korean War came about some time later,
where were you stationed at during the Korean War.
Mave: I was in Japan and then I came home. And then I
was out for awhile. I got married and resigned my
Ronnie: When you got married, where you forced to resign
you commission or was that just a choice that you
Ma v ~I:t was a choice Im ade. For a while you had to get
out if you got married. But I had a choice.
Ronnie: In the Korean War itself what role would you say
Mavq: The same, I was a nurse, the same duties.
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Ronnie: So you took advantage of a lot of opportunities the
Air Force provided you.
Ronnie: That was wise. How did you feel about basically
being a pioneer for a lot of females ...
Mave: One thing, when the Women's Army Corp came
along, nurses had been the only kid on the block and
then came the WAFS, and we had been titling along
with just our relative rank and not even full pay. Well
when those women came along they demanded full
rank and full pay, so because of them we went to bat
and got it to.
Ronnie: Basically as time went on women received equal
pay and equal rank.
Mave: Yes, It seems like they jumped in and got all the
promotions and everything and we had been doing all
Ronnie: At that time did you noticed any resentment from
Mave: No-no-no the men always respected us and admired
Ronnie: What advice would you to a female entering the
Maye: Go girl go
Ronnie: Make it a career.
Mave: The sky is the limit; you can do anything you want
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Ronnie: Often times we hear that women were treated so
poorly in the military.
Mave: Not in the Nurse Corp, because it was all Officers I
don't know what it was like with the ...
Ronnie: To me it is refreshing to hear what it was like,
sometimes it see like people want to tell about the
gloom and doom and the mistreatment, and to me it
sounds like you had nothing but fond memories and
Mave: Absolutely, but it might have been different if I had
been a PFC in the Women's Army Corp.
Ronnie: What is your greatest memory of your whole
Mave: The idea of being young and being a part of
something big and important and wonderful, because
so many of us were in it together.
Ronnie: When you first went in your parents were in horror
of your choice as time went on how did they feel?
Mave: They were so proud.
Ronnie: I can imagine. You retired as a Lieutenant Colonel,
at that time how many female Lieutenant Colonels were
there? I know you might not know exactly.
Mave: Not too many. We had just made our first General
and now we have a two or three star (general).
Ronnie: So you said, you had gone into the military with
your friends, where you able to keep in touch with your
friends through out your military career?
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Mave: Oh yes.
Ronnie: Are there any other memories that you want to put
Mave: Well, you will have to buy the book!
Ronnie: I appreciate your time and letting me interview you
and getting all this good information down. I think it
will be very helpful to some people who will do research
later on, maybe they can come in and get an accurate
report of what historical went on. I think a lot of the
time when you read some of the books you get a
tainted picture, so it is always good to get it first hand
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