During WWII, Ruth D’Hert chose the Navy WAVES (“Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”) because the uniforms were navy blue. “Being a Mormon, I was looking at the uniforms, for one thing. I decided on the WAVES because their uniforms were more conservative. They were navy blue, and the Marines’ uniforms had red on them.”
After being told by her father to “wait a year” before applying to the special US Naval Reserve program for women, Ruth took a Columbia Trade School course on radio code to give herself a better chance to be assigned something other than office work. Her boss at US Electrical Motors wrote her a letter of recommendation playing up her electrical engineering experience while playing down her clerical duties. Besides, Ruth thought, the navy probably has enough clerk already.
Ruth’s plan worked and she was easily accepted into the navy and trained as a radio operator. Her first active duty station was in Hyannis, Massachusetts, where she listened to radio frequencies for messages to and from the German U Boats that were off the eastern coast of the U.S. She copied down the messages, and then sent them away to be decoded. In fact, on VE Day, Ruth heard the Navy’s only un-coded message. In plain English, it directed the Germans to surrender to the Americans.
Ruth did like her naval uniform, but of course her main motivation for serving in the armed services was to help end the war. “We wanted to get the war over with and get back to our regular life.”