In June 1945, Audrae Gandreau enlisted with the Women’s Army Corps and served with the Detachment Headquarters, Army Ground Forces unit. She served at the rank of technician four, at Fort Benning, Georgia, and then at Fort Monroe, Virginia. At Fort Monroe, she performed many clerical duties, including preparing mimeographs, and stenciling administrative military correspondence and reports.
Gandreau said she was a little hesitant about her decision to enlist. In a postcard to her mother dated July 1945 she explained, “It’s Sunday but every day is the same here. I don’t even know what the war is doing. It’s so darned quiet!”
However, other letters show that she grew excited and proud of both her work in Army administration and fellow soldiers. Writing to her mother July 8, 1945, she expressed her pride in serving her country: “Hello Mom: Well, I’m in the Army now. Pvt. Gandreau, doesn’t that sound important?”
Her letters offer an important snapshot into the life of those who served in the Women’s Army Corps. Writing her mother on Oct. 1, 1945, she explained, “The people up here are all sweet to work with,” and added that “someone’s always exchanging a joke.” Her letters also offer a glimpse into the interplay between genders in a field that previously considered to be off-limits to women. Later in the letter, she notes, “the strange part of all this is I’m feeling sweet and managing to keep the weight down. I did gain a little but by watching my diet I’m still able to fit into my uniform”
She signed the letter “Mommy loves you Donna and Alison,” and added, “P.S the Army must be good for me, and I got no complaints.”
Before enlisting Gandreau had two daughters Donna and Alison, who lived with their grandparents until the Army honorably discharged her March 1947. After her service, she had two sons, Ross Alan in 1948, and Paul Louis in 1949.
She died in Winchester, Virginia in 1998.
More of her story is at: http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.64747/#vhp:official
We honor her service.
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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/.
Fact checker: Crystal Moore
Graphic artist: Alyssa Morford