Sidney J. Paterson (Jackie) was inspired to join the Navy in the 1950s, well before women considered making a career of military service. She tells of the moment got the idea on the first page of her work, “All God’s Children”:
My heart tightened as Daddy’s cough tortured my ears. My Daddy was my “very, most, favorite Daddy in the world.” I grew up hearing the rasping, wheezing cough caused by some “terrible gas unleashed upon him as a boy of 17 by the Germans” in WWI. (I thought mustard was for weenies.) Thousands of young men, disabled by the noxious poisonous gas, faced tortured, diminished lives for themselves and their families. Family gossip filtering down to little ears, spoke of Daddy hospitalized in France for a very long time. The same gossipers chastised and complained about the lack of care for the American soldiers by their own government. My father’s damaged lungs forced poverty and pain upon his young family for all of their early lives.
I put the towel back on the rack and joined Daddy in front the TV.
“Join the Navy and see the world” messaged the tiny vintage glass screen.
“That sounds like fun,” I answered. “Can girls go?”
And go she did–north, south, east, and west. Along the way she trained and worked as a Navy photographer. In her off-duty hours she entertained the troops and families as the lead vocalist in “The White Hats Band”
You can write to Jackie by contacting Home and Abroad’s director through our contact page.