Photos of WWII Navy WAVES

Aviation Machinist's Mate turning over the engine of a SNJ-4 training plane

The WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) program was created in August 1942 in response to the need for additional military personnel during World War II. From the very beginning, the WAVES were an official part of the Navy, and its members held the same rank and ratings as male personnel. They also received the same pay and were subject to military discipline. WAVES could not serve aboard combat ships or aircraft, and initially were restricted to duty in the continental United States. Late in World War II, WAVES were authorized to serve in certain overseas U.S. possessions, and a number were sent to Hawaii. At the end of WWII, there were well over 8,000 female officers and some ten times that many enlisted WAVES, about 2-1/2 percent of the Navy's total strength. In some places WAVES constituted a majority of the uniformed Naval personnel. And many remained in uniform to help get the Navy into, and through, the post-war era.

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WAVES Anniversary 1943 Cartoon

WAVES Anniversary 1943 cartoon by Sixta, USNR, depicting events and activities in the first year following the 30 July 1942 authorization of the WAVES.

WAVE Specialist (Photographer) 3rd Class saluting

WAVE Specialist (Photographer) 3rd Class saluting, as she stands among the springtime cherry blossoms near the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC, during World War II.

Trainees march in formation behind their color guard

U.S. Naval Training Center, Women's Reserve, The Bronx, New York. Some of the school's trainees march in formation behind their color guard, during World War II.

Navy WAVE trainee leans on a swab

Navy WAVE trainee leans on a swab while cleaning her barracks, soon after she arrived at a Naval Training Center during World War II.

WAVES on liberty in Honolulu

WAVES on liberty in Honolulu. Yeoman 3rd Class Margaret Jean Fusco photographs three friends by King Kamehameha's statue in Honolulu, circa spring 1945.

WAVES visiting the USS Missouri

WAVES visiting the USS Missouri (BB-63) in an east coast port, during her shakedown period, circa August 1944. They are standing on the main deck at the bow, with the Navy Jack flying behind them.

WAVES in a Douglas R4D-6 transport plane

WAVEs en route to Naval Air Station, Olathe, Kansas, in a Douglas R4D-6 transport plane, accompanied by their instructor, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) N.J. Merrill. Most of the enlisted WAVES are strikers for the rate of Specialist (Transport Airman).

New WAVES and SPARS take the oath of enlistment

New WAVES and SPARS take the oath of enlistment in a ceremony held in front of New York City Hall, 8 February 1943.

Navy's first African-American WAVES officers

Frances Wills(left) and Harriet Ida Pickens are sworn in as Apprentice Seamen by Lieutenant Rosamond D. Selle, USNR, at New York City. In December 1944, they became the Navy's first African-American WAVES officers.

Ensign May Herrmann talks to two young women concerning enlistment in the Navy Women's Reserve

Ensign May Herrmann talks to two young women concerning enlistment in the Navy Women's Reserve, at the Officer Procurement office, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 30 October 1942.

U.S. Naval Training Center, Women's Reserve, The Bronx, New York

U.S. Naval Training Center, Women's Reserve, The Bronx, New York. The flag is raised at the Hunter College campus, Bronx, New York, as it is placed in commission as the basic training center for Navy and Coast Guard women, 8 Feb 1943.

Commissioning ceremonies at the new training school for female Navy (WAVES) and Coast Guard (SPARS) Officers, circa early 1943

Commissioning ceremonies at the new training school for female Navy (WAVES) and Coast Guard (SPARS) Officers, circa early 1943. Shown in front (shaking hands) are Lieutenant Commander Mildred McAfee, USNR, Director of the WAVES; and Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, USN, Chief of Naval Personnel.

First chow is served by the Red Cross at the Hunter College campus

First "chow" is served by the Red Cross at the Hunter College campus, as the facility is placed in service as the basic training center for Navy and Coast Guard women, 8 February 1943.

WAVES students on parade

Naval Training School (Yeoman-W), Milledgeville, Georgia. WAVES students on parade, during a Retreat ceremony at the school, during World War II.

Retreat ceremonies at the WAVE Yeoman school

Naval Training School, Yeoman-W, Milledgeville, Georgia. Retreat ceremonies at the WAVE Yeoman school, during World War II.