Shirley H. Reagor was born in Franklin, North Carolina, and grew up with six siblings. She was the fourth member among her siblings to serve in World War II. In 1943, Reagor joined the U.S. Coast Guard in Cleveland, Ohio. Soon after, she transferred to Florida, where she completed her training and worked on station assignments during the war.
Much of her job included clerical and administrative duties, such as typing reports, procedures and orders. Additionally, she helped with processing the paperwork of thousands of sailors, soldiers and Marines who served in the war. Reagor also worked on logistics and inventory for items such as cruiser equipment, supplies and weapons, while meeting the needs of other crewmen, units and barracks.
Throughout the war, hostile countries used submarines as a way of spying on the American Atlantic coast. Whenever the U.S. captured an enemy submarine, Reagor completed inventory of the items onboard the submarine. It was during one of these missions that Reagor inventoried a captured Italian submarine near Florida’s coast. She recalled while she was working on the submarine, she stumbled upon six-month-old cured garlic that released a foul, sour smell that reached every crevice in the submarine.
When the war came to an end, Reagor discharged in March 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During her service, she earned the rank of seaman first class as well as the World War II Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal.
After her discharge, Reagor relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she worked as a medical assistant at the Oschner Clinic. She continued to work at the clinic until her late 70s when she moved to Houston, Texas, where she currently resides with her husband. For her 100th birthday, the Mayor of Houston and Women in Military Service for America issued her proclamations.
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Fact checker: Kinsley Ballas