Jean M. Mudgett was born in Dec. 5, 1931, in Nashwauk, Minnesota. Following her graduation from high school, she asked her parents if they would sign for her enlistment in the service. In the summer before she turned twenty-one, her father finally permitted her to enlist and she began training at Bainbridge, Maryland in November 1951. In addition to their regular classes, her division cleaned and repaired barracks at the training camp, closed since World War II.
“Three times a day we had to get in company formation and march two miles to the male recruits tall hall and back because we didn’t have our own mess hall,” she said. “We put in a lot of miles in one day just walking, but we didn’t have a choice. But when I look back at it, it was all worthwhile and I wouldn’t change a thing when I was in the service.”
After spending just under four years, she left the Navy as a disbursing clerk third class. Jean then married Raleigh Badavinac, born only three miles from her hometown, and they started a family in Minnesota.
She was a founding member of the all-women’s American Legion Post in Hibbing, Minnesota. She went on to command American Legion Post #17 for two years and served as the 10th district commander in Centralia, Minnesota. In her retirement, Jean also participated in World War II commemorations on Memorial Day weekend in Hibbing.
Reflecting on her childhood, Badavinac remembered World War II crystal clear.
“I was 10 years old, two days before Pearl Harbor was bombed,” Jean said. “And at that time, I was babysitting my sister’s little boy and on Sunday morning, when I turned the radio on, I heard the news.”
Jean’s three brothers and brother-in-law were drafted.
“Every neighbor, every street, every block had at least somebody going off to war.”
One of her brothers who lived through the Battle of the Bulge wrote, “something big is going to happen” of the impending D-Day landings.
Jean passed away at home in Centralia, Washington Sept. 4, 2018 at the age of 86.
We honor her service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic artist: Kimber Garland