By Randy Welker
My mother is a veteran. She joined the Woman’s Army Corp when she was eighteen in 1960.
This story has nothing to do with marching into battle to fight a war. However, mother caused a major change in Army policy by being a good swimmer.
She was stationed at Fort MacArthur on the coast in southern California. The fort had a swimming pool for Army personnel and their dependents to enjoy. Mom wanted to be a lifeguard at the pool. She took the three-week training course given to all lifeguard applicants and passed it without any problems. She was the only WAC in the class. The Army had never had a female lifeguard before.
Her Sergeant had to approve her re-assignment from payroll clerk to lifeguard. The sergeant sent her application up the Army levels and it kept getting sent up until it reached the commanding officer in charge of the whole southern California area. His answer came down, yes, she could be a lifeguard, but being female she would have to work her payroll job in the morning and the lifeguard job in the afternoon. Mom went to work at eight in the morning and since the pool was open until eight, worked to eight in the evening. A twelve-hour day. The male lifeguards worked from noon to eight, an eight-hour day. That’s how my mom, Linda Welker, became the first WAC lifeguard. She is eighty now and still swims.