Before she signed up for the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps in World War II, Marjorie Morris , who lives North Port, Fla.’s Jockey Club, said she led a rather cloistered life.
Growing up in the Bronx in the late 1930s and early 1940s, she graduated from Manhattan Industrial High School and went to work in the garment business soon after. Like millions of other young men and women of her generation, she volunteered for service after the United States entered the war.
“I decided I wanted to be part of the war, so I signed up for the WAAC,” the 89-year-old former Private 1st Class recalled. “I joined the WAAC on July 7, 1943, when I was 21.”
Morris went to boot camp at Fort Devens, Mass. After graduation, she was assigned to an all-black women’s cook and bakery unit at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. Later, she became a hospital orderly and served at Camp Gruber in Muskogee, Okla. From there, she was reassigned to Camp Knight in Oakland, Calif., as a clerk-typist. She also served as a clerk-typist at Camp Stoneman is Pittsburg, Calif. In 1946, she was honorably discharged at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.
“The most interesting thing about serving in the Army during World War II was the different people I met from all over the country. The women I met were from all over with different stories,” Morris said.
“At the time, the Army was segregated. We were in an all-black WAAC unit. That was the way it was, but we didn’t think much about it,” she said.
“When we were off-duty, we spent a lot of time at the service club. I’d dance the night away in my high-topped boots. I wore out a pair of those boots dancing and had to get another pair,” she recalled with a smile.
After discharge from the service, Morris took advantage of the G.I. Bill and attended Hunter College in New York. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and later obtained her master’s degree. For 30 years, Morris taught home economics at a high school in the Bronx.
In the 1970s, she and her partner (now deceased) moved to the Jockey Club and built the home she now lives in.
Looking back on her service career so long ago, Morris said, “I really enjoyed being in the service. Sometimes you’d get a letter from home that would make you cry, but on the whole, I was in the Army with a bunch of wonderful girls.”
Pfc. Marjorie Morris received the World War II Victory Medal, the American Service Medal, Women’s Army Corps Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Florida on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009 and is republished with permission.
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