The Women’s Air Raid Defense of the Hawaiian Islands was a Civilian Service under the Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department of the United States Army.
This site serves to honor the women who served by identifying the women and putting names to their faces, vice versa. It is currently under construction and will probably remain under construction as information continues to be gathered over time.
World War II, which took place from 1939 to 1945, was a conflict that involved just about every part of the world. Hawaii was certainly no exclusion. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise military strike targeting Pearl Harbor on the Island of Oahu. Having killed more than 2,400 Americans, paradise was changed. Martial law was declared within hours of the attack therefore US military transformed life in the islands.
Originally formed on the Island of Oahu to relieve men who were ordered to combat areas, and duties and demands that secret work entailed, the Women’s Air Raid Defense played a significant role in the defense of the Hawaiian Islands. According to General Davidson, the work of the women in the WARD “would be the most important done by any woman in the nation. It was, in fact, the first time in U.S. history that women officially replaced active duty combat soldiers without a mandate or approval from Congress.” (Shuffleboard Pilots pg. 23)
WARD recruiting standards were high. Initially, women had to be between the ages of 20-34 and childless. They had to pass a physical and Army Intelligence examination, be willing to work shifts around the clock and live in Army quarters abiding by special regulations. The WARD began as a detachment of Company A, Signal Aircraft Warning Regiment, Special appointed under Executive Order #9063. Women were soon thereafter appointed as civil service employees.
The Maui unit of the WARD was established on July 30, 1942.
The Hilo unit of the WARD on the island of Hawaii began operations on August 10, 1942 under the supervision of Mrs. Hazel Bush who began recruiting in June 1942.
The Kauai unit of the WARD began its operations on September 14, 1942 under the supervision of Mrs. Florence Burton Rice.
On June 13, 1943, the WARD was detached from the Signal Corps to become the WARD unit of the 17th Fighter Command.
The Kaua’i WARD was disbanded, by order of the Army, on January 15, 1944.
Shuffleboard Pilots: The History of the Women’s Air Raid Defense in Hawaii, 1941 – 1945 has been an excellent resource. However, the roster which begins on page 82 is incomplete as it doesn’t include some of the women who are known to have served. For instance, Anne Martha Rapozo who was part of the Kauai Unit, is not listed amongst those women she served besides.
In a quest to gather genealogical information on her, photos and some documents were found in an old family trunk. However, records via the National Personnel Records Center, were unable to be obtained. According to the National Personnel Records Center, if records of the women who served in the WARDs existed on July 12, 1973, “it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed. The fire destroyed the major portion of records of Army military personnel for the period 1912 through 1959, and records of the Air Force personnel with surnames Hubbard through Z of the period 1947 through 1963.”