Photos of WWII Navy WAVES at Work

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

The WWII-era WAVES served in a far wider range of occupations than had the Yeomen of WWI. While traditionally female secretarial and clerical jobs took an expected large portion, thousands of WAVES performed previously atypical duties in the aviation community, Judge Advocate General Corps, medical professions, communications, intelligence, science and technology. Some of the occupations held by WAVES during WWII included Aviation Machinist's Mates, Aviation Metalsmiths, Control Tower Operators, Aerographer's Mates, Link Trainer Instructors, and Parachute Riggers.


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Yeoman 1st Class Marjorie Daw Adams, USNR(W) obtains a receipt from Mailman 2nd Class Wilbur L. Harrison

Yeoman 1st Class Marjorie Daw Adams, USNR(W) obtains a receipt from Mailman 2nd Class Wilbur L. Harrison, who is picking up classified mail for his attack transport, at Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, California, on 13 June 1945.

WAVE Pharmacist's Mate 3rd Class Winifred Perosky prepares to X-Ray

WAVE Pharmacist's Mate 3rd Class Winifred Perosky prepares to X-Ray Marine Private First Class Harold E. Reyher, circa spring 1945. She is one of 1000 WAVES assigned to the Naval Hospital at San Diego.

WAVES air station control tower crew

WAVE air station control tower crew at a Naval Air Station in the Hawaiian islands, circa mid-1945. Specialist 2nd Class Mary E. Johnson uses a microphone to speak to an incoming plane, as Specialist 2nd Class Lois Stoneburg operates a signal lamp.

Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Violet Falkum turns over the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine of a SNJ-4 training plane

Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Violet Falkum turns over the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine of a SNJ-4 training plane, at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, 30 November 1943.

WAVES study aircraft mechanics

WAVES study aircraft mechanics at Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey, during World War II.

WAVES from the Cedar Falls, Iowa, yeoman school take a meal break in an Iowa seed corn field

WAVES from the Cedar Falls, Iowa, yeoman school take a meal break in an Iowa seed corn field, while helping de-tassel corn stalks during a critical rural labor shortage, circa 1944. More than 150 WAVES helped out during the operation.

Seaman 2nd Class Sally Kaufman, USNR(W) de-tasseling corn stalks in an Iowa state seed corn field

Seaman 2nd Class Sally Kaufman, USNR(W) de-tasseling corn stalks in an Iowa state seed corn field, during a period of critical labor shortages in rural areas, circa 1944.

Parachute Rigger 3rd Class Lorna Peterson, USNR(W) climbs out of the after cockpit of a Stearman N2S training plane

Parachute Rigger 3rd Class Lorna Peterson, USNR(W) climbs out of the after cockpit of a Stearman N2S training plane, following an orientation flight at Naval Air Station, Ottumwa, Iowa, circa 1944-45.

Ensign Mary McLean, USNR(W) hands her hat to another WAVE officer, as she boards a training plane for an orientation flight

Ensign Mary McLean, USNR(W) hands her hat to another WAVE officer, as she boards a training plane for an orientation flight, at Naval Air Station, Squantum, Massachusetts, October 1943.

A WAVE ensign times the sights for a ship's Navigating Officer

A WAVE ensign times the sights for the ship's Navigating Officer, as he "shoots" the sun with his sextant, 25 June 1945.

Two WAVES washing a North American SNJ training plane

Two WAVES washing a North American SNJ training plane, circa 1943-45.

WAVE Bernice Garrott marks an aircraft check-off list

WAVE Bernice Garrott marks an aircraft check-off list, while working on the flight line at Naval Air Station, Seattle, Washington, 7 July 1943. The plane behind her is a Beech SNB-1 training aircraft.

Seaman 1st Class Patricia A. Branch, USNR(W) attends to an officer passenger on a transcontinental Naval Air Transport Service flight

Seaman 1st Class Patricia A. Branch, USNR(W) attends to an officer passenger on a transcontinental Naval Air Transport Service flight, circa mid-1945.

Aviation Metalsmith J.J. Lombardo shows WAVES students how to tie down cargo in a Douglas R4D transport plane

Aviation Metalsmith J.J. Lombardo shows WAVES students how to tie down cargo in a Douglas R4D transport plane, 17 February 1945.

Specialist (X) 2nd Class Marcelle Whiteman holds one of the 200 carrier pigeons based at NAS Santa Ana

Specialist (X) 2nd Class Marcelle Whiteman holds one of the 200 carrier pigeons "based" at NAS Santa Ana, circa June 1945. The birds were used to transmit communications from the air to the station when radio silence is in force. One of the occupations covered by the Specialist (X) rating was Pigeon Trainer.