Florene Jewell Watkins (January 9, 1910 – August 27, 1997)

Service: NAVY Waves: “Women Accepted Volunteer Emergency Service”
Rank achieved: Lieutenant
Dates of service: December 16, 1943 – November 1, 1948

Florene Watkins enlisted in the Waves in December 1943 and immediately was assigned to officer candidate school in Northhampton, Mass, at Smithville College. One of her letters from Northhampton while in school said how much she loved it, how strenuous it was, and how great the food was! (perhaps an unusual report regarding the food) She graduated as Lieutenant Junior Grade in February, 1944. She was then assigned to Hollywood, Florida where she was trained (with a class of cadets, both male and female) in navigation.

Although she served during World War Il, she was not assigned to combat duty, because, at that time, women were not allowed to participate in active combat. This probably prevented her from being a navigator on the battle front. During her tour in Florida, German submarines were reported to be seen in intercoastal waters off Florida. She questioned her fellow cadets about U2 boat sightings, however they were sworn to secrecy and could not tell what they saw. She too, on occasion flew on naval aircraft, as a navigator, but not as a pilot.

After graduation from navigation training (and promotion to full Lieutenant) she was assigned to teaching navigation to navy cadets. At least one class achieved record high scores under her tutelage.(newspaper clipping) While in the service, she was engaged and married (February, 1945). Her cadet class at that time (all young men) threw a bridal shower for her (see photo) wherein she received such gifts as a fish bowl, toilet bowl cleaner and other perceived necessities of marriage! she was released from active duty October 30, 1945. Following her marriage and gent geny Samammamme transfer to inactive service, she had her first child. At that time, she received a eden Gil an I mandatory honorable discharge from inactive duty in the Navy because: YS lle oe I

“Since the policy of the Navy Department is that ‘Women with children under 18 years of age are not eligible for Navy Service’, it becomes necessary to take steps to terminate, under the most honorable conditions, the Reserve commissions of women officers who now have children under the age of 18…” Source: Document dated 1 November 1948 to All Women Officers of the Naval Reserve”

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