Korean War Legacy Project

Diana Kathleen Cattani


Diana Cattani was born and raised in Michigan and attended college to become a home economics teacher. Before graduating in 1953, she decided to join the military because she knew it would provide for her basic needs, offer her the ability to see the world, and because she wanted to “do something good.” While in the United States Air Force, she met her husband. After becoming pregnant she was discharged in 1954. After her discharge, she followed her husband to his U.S. Air Force assignments and later became a civilian worker for the Department of Defense, doing mostly clerical and accounting work. She feels women were not treated fairly in the military or in her work as a civilian worker for the Department of Defense and that her talents were underutilized.

Video Clips

Experience in Basic Training

Diana Cattani reflects on her experience in basic training in the United States Air Force. She recalls the training included math and language skills as well as learning how to follow rules without question. She explains this included clothing being ironed and starched as well as strict rules around how much clothing could be in their laundry bag. She describes marching from one end to another on base and swears they marched nine hours a day. She shares she never learned how to use a gun however, because leadership knew she would not be fighting. She reflects on her time at basic training, sharing the experience made her stronger physically and mentally.

Tags: Basic training,Food,Home front,Living conditions,Women

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Job Description and Living Conditions

Diana Cattani describes undergoing placement training while in the U.S. Air Force which included a rating in seven categories. She admits she struggled with the mechanical tasks but excelled in administration and office procedures. She shares she also attended a radio operations course held with male soldiers where she learned how to use a radio and morse code. She recalls being told she had a perfect voice for radio since it was loud and clear. She remembers how, despite graduating at the top of her class, her assignment was as a typist, a position she was unhappy about. She details her living conditions on her first assignment, expanding on the fact there were no dryers on base and how the base commander's wife would not allow laundry to be hung outside on Sundays.

Tags: Basic training,Home front,Living conditions,Women

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Working as a Civilian for the Department of Defense

Diana Cattani reflects on her time working as a civilian for the Department of Defense after her discharge from the U.S. Air Force due to her pregnancy. She shares there was no way to fight the discharge at the time. She states things are much better for women today who get pregnant while serving in the military. She recalls feeling her skills were underused and feels women were treated unfairly. She remains very disappointed she was forced to leave the Air Force upon her pregnancy which was the norm of that time.

Tags: Home front,Women

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


I:          Diana Cattani.

D:        Yes.

I:          At the office of Macone Catholic Services on 15945 Canal Road in Clinton Township, Michigan.  Ms. Cattani is, how old are you?
D:        Seventy-one.

I:          Seventy-one and being born in 1937.

D:        Nineteen thirty-four.

I:          Thirty-four?  I’m sorry.

D:        Nineteen thirty-four, yes.  I remember it well.

I:          And you currently live

D:        In Harrison Township.

I:          Harrison Township.

D:        Yes.



I:          My name is Butch Koff, and I will be the interviewer today.  I just met Diana.  And Paul Willhelm will be our videographer, uh.  Sitting in as guests are Dave Brosseau and Steve Lutz, uh.  Before we get into your, uh, veterans experience, Diana, can I call you Diana?
D:        Surely.

I:          Okay.  Uh, let’s start at the beginning.  Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you were born, where did you grow up, go to school and how you ended up in your branch of service.



D:        I was born in Henry Ford Hospital in the city of Detroit.  And I always mention that because that was big in those days.  I went to Grand Elementary School.  I lived in Detroit as a youngster.  I went to Grand Elementary School, went on to Pershing High School and then went on to Wayne State University which was Wayne University at that point, um.  I was going to teach Home Economics.  And I was doing very well.



And I like it except I had to live at home.  And that became rather difficult.  So, I thought of something that I could do that would be good because I think it’s important to do good and to do well to join the military because I would have some place to live, something to eat and some, uh, something to study, to learn.



And I wanted to see something of the world.  And I found it very interesting.  Even just getting on the train and going to Lackland was interesting because we actually had deserts and big bodies of water and all kinds of things that I thought were just someone’s imagination when as a child I saw them in pictures.

I:          So, you enlisted.

D:        I enlisted, uh.  They asked me did I want to be an officer because actually I tested very well.  But I wasn’t feeling very secure in myself in those days.



I:          And you had a degree from Wayne.

D:        Uh, no.  I didn’t yet have the degree.  I still don’t have the degree.  I had three years at Wayne and I did some classes over at McCone that I wanted to take in accounting especially there, um, which helped me in my career after that, um.  So, I spent about, I forget how long, um



from July of 1953 to October of 1954 in the Air Force.  And during that time, I went to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base.  I think it was for nine weeks, eight weeks, something like that.

I:          Was that your first time out of the Detroit area?

D:        Uh, yes.  And everything was very strange, uh.



I heard a little tiny girl, she was the cutest little thing, black hair and all kinds of freckles, and she opened her mouth to speak, and I thought she was teasing, but she was from Brooklyn.  And I would stare at her for a while until I got used to her.  But everybody had different accents and different ways of dressing and behaving, and I thought that was very interesting.  Some were from California and from, I don’t know, all over.



I:          You mentioned Lackland.  Where was that at?
D:        Um, Lackland is in San Antonio, Texas, um.  And our big weekend that we got to go out, we went to the San Antonio Zoo which was pretty thrilling.  They had an enormous python there.  Biggest thing I ever saw.   He was huge.

I:          Tell us a little bit about your experience in basic training and what you thought it was supposed to be physical and educational part.

D:        Well, they gave us a lot, a lot of it was remedial.



They wanted us to uh, to know how to do math and language skills and learn rules and be able to follow them without question, um, to be able to have our gear, whatever it was, our clothing all in absolute order and ironed, starched and no more than two pieces of laundry in your laundry basket at any give time.  Trust me.  It was very difficult in those days



to only have two pieces of laundry in there.  So, we’d wash things out at night and hang them over the bed thing and put them away in the morning.

I:          How do you feel about that discipline?

D:        Well, I had always been taught to be very neat.  So, but that two pieces of laundry was a little bit much.  Laundry bags for laundry, uh.  And it’s not that easy to do the laundry there.  It wasn’t as if you had uh, machines etc. readily available.



Um, so that wasn’t so very easy.  But I did fine.  And during that whole time, I got exactly one gig because I placed a box the wrong way in my closet.  So, I got one gig that whole time I was there. Annoyed with myself.  Let me put it that way.  I got through it just fine.  They marched us from one area to the other.  And we had uh, all kinds of honors for, uh, marching because we



spent a lot of time on our feet, um.  I swear it was nine hours a day on our feet marching.  And of course, when we went through the chow line, we had um, we had to go, you know, stand at attention, had to face forward.  Anyway, march to food.  So, that was very, very regimented.  And there was really very little time that we weren’t being taken car, we all lived together in a barracks.  All women were together.



We were called WAFS, um.  It wasn’t anything uh, it wasn’t as it is now at all, very different.  We didn’t learn how to use guns or anything like that because they knew we weren’t going to be fighting, although I don’t think it would have hurt many of us to fight.  But they didn’t in those days anyway.  Anyway, I think we were all physically stronger and mentally, mentally stronger, too.



By the time all that was done.  We did things like KP which was something less than thrilling, especially when you were the one who was short and got the big pots, those great big, huge monstrous things that they do things like cook mashed potatoes in.  That was a little on the hard side too.  We managed.  Some poor guy had to come in and do the traps, you know, dumping stuff down the trash and stuff like that. In the sewer, we didn’t have to lift the



whole thing full or anything like that. So, we had some guys come in and do it.  That’s the only thing the men came in and did that we didn’t do.  Everything else we did.

I:          Did you mention that you went in May?  Was it hot down there?
D:        No.  I actually went the beginning of July.

I:          Oh.

D:        And yeah, it was hot.  But it was very dry.  And I didn’t seem to mind that very much.  It went up to 110 or something.  We were out there marching in it.  And I learned to drink Dr. Pepper.



I learned to really, really, really appreciate Dr. Pepper.  I don’t think I could have made it without Dr. Pepper.

I:          That product wasn’t up here in the Detroit area.

D:        No, oh no.  That was very new.  That was very new, and I drank it.  They had one of those machines that sold pop, I got my Dr. Pepper.

I:          So,

D:        I find that amusing to this day.

I:          I think it’s very amusing.  So, in boot camp, were you being tested for your future,



I don’t know what you would call it, job description?
D:        Well, they gave us a long test.  And they rated us in oh perhaps seven categories or so.  I didn’t do very well at all with mechanical part because I am not mechanically minded.  But when it came to the things that had to do with uh, administration and office procedure, I forget the exact title, I did very, very well on that.



And what they wound up doing was giving me a stripe and sending me over to Keesler Air Force Base down in Biloxi, Mississippi which was a sleepy little town then, and nobody ever heard the word casino in those days.  Big town, lovely people in town.  The church ladies would give us oh, I don’t know, chicken dinners and pecan pie.  And I remember pecan pie to this day, and that was a long time ago.



But there, I went through uh, a course for radio operations.  So, we did, uh, Morse Code among other things and voice communications, and they said I had a really good voice.  It carried well at that time.  So um, and clear.  And so, I did a lot of that kind of thing, studying for that.  And I graduated actually at the top of my class.  There were only a few WACS who were in the class that were, uh, they were all men.



I:          So, it was co-ed.

D:        That was, yes.  But there were, you know, there was me and 40 guys, you know.  We still all lived together in a WAC barracks right next to the flight line.  I will never forget that either because those airplanes are big and noisy.  And they rattled everything.  And that barracks were very old.  They rattled, too.  Anyway, I went through the whole course.  I graduated top of the class.  And in the infinite intelligence,



and I say that with my eyes closed, they sent me to Selfridge Air Force Base so I could be a clerk-typist in Operations Squadron.  So, I was sort of sitting in a kind of garage setting with a desk and doing paperwork of varying kinds.  And I couldn’t imagine after being first in my class that they did that to me.  But they did.

I:          How long was your training there?



D:        Four, five, six months.  It seemed like a long time.

I:          Was that another hot spot?
D:        How do you mean?  I don’t know what you mean, hot spot.

I:          Humid, weather wise?

D:        Yes.  You couldn’t leave your shoes on the floor, for instance, because it was so very humid.  We had to put our shoes upside down, hang them on nails, do anything because they could not stay on the floor because they would mold.  We had to be extremely, extremely careful about all the clothing cause everything would smell like mold if you did keep it washed up and ironed up



and freshened.  And again, laundry things, we didn’t have dryers.  We didn’t have available to us washing machines.  So, we would wash our clothes, we had to hang them on line.  And as I understood it, the commanding officer’s wife suggested that it was not appropriate for us to hang up our clothes on Sunday.  So, we couldn’t do our laundry on Sunday because we couldn’t hang it out.  But we would do that like on Saturday afternoons and at night when we were out of school or work



Or whatever it was we were doing.

I:          So, now you’re out of boot camp.  And you did your training.  Tell us a little bit about your entertainment side of uh, now that you have a little more freedom in Biloxi.

D:        It didn’t really feel like a whole lot more freedom in Biloxi.  But we could sort of take shared taxis and go into town.  And there was a wonderful beach and uh, as I said, the church ladies were really lovely.  And we’d go up and down the street.  We could shop and, you know, have something to eat if we wanted to.



Um, that was nice.  And we could go see movies or something on base.  And I always did projects.  So, at that time, I was doing tole painting.  And that kept me amused for a while.  And then I walked around Mack Bay a lot.  There was a long way around the flight line.  I’d walk back there to Mack Bay, and it was so gorgeous, especially in the evening when the sun was going down.  And the colors were absolutely stunning.



It was so peaceful and wonderful.  It gave us real, wonderful respite to gaze at.

I:          Now this was during the Korean War Conflict, uh.  Did you have any feelings about that, uh, any perspective of what’s going on at the time, uh?  Being in the Service, obviously uh, you’re associating with that.

D:        Well, you know, they didn’t talk about war.



Um, I used to get Time magazine.  So, I would read up, um.  I needed to know something because they really didn’t talk about war.  They didn’t talk about why or where or who or how much or anything.  And I find today that I am very interested in those kinds of questions and am always looking.  I write articles to the newspaper.  I write letters to the President. I tell him he’s wrong period.



In every way I can, I tell him he’s wrong.

I:          Does he respond back to you?
D:        Never ever. I really don’t expect it.  He’s never going to respond. I don’t expect that he’s ever read one of my letters.  I really expect that somebody reads them, glances at them or something and says okay.  Fifty-two percent of those letters say you’re doing a good job, and 10 % say you stink, something like that.

I:          Well, it’s,

D:        Something, you know, quantitively, not qualitative.

I:          Obviously you earned the right to have that.



D:        Oh yeah.  I think I earned the right to do that, as long as I don’t say anything really that awful, I can say what I want.

I:          I’m surprised finishing number one in your class that they didn’t ask you, you know, or reward you with a duty station of your choice.

D:        They never asked me any questions at all about what I wanted to do until the one time when I had to say no, um.  I fell madly in love with a young man.  And uh, we married here in my home church.



Um, and I got pregnant which when you’re in the military in those days, as soon as you tell them you were pregnant, you see the doctor, and you’re out that day.  You leave the base.  So, that’s what happened.  I think that was, they don’t do that today, thank God, because it’s really stupid for all that training to go down the tubes like that.

I:          Back me up a little bit.  Where did you meet this young man?
D:        In school in Biloxi, Mississippi.

I:          Um hm.



Love at first sight.

D:        No.  No, I wouldn’t say that.  But he seemed like he was a very sweet man, um.  Somebody one could grow old with.  Didn’t happen that way.  But it’s what it seemed like at the time.
I:          So, you met him there.  Did you marry him there?
D:        No.  I married him up here.

I:          He had assignment up here, too?
D:        No.  He came up here to marry me.  And then he had to go some place else.  He was always going some place else.  We spent a lot of time.

I:          You had that kind of a spell over him that he followed you here, ay?



D:        To marry me, yeah.  After that, it was not quite the same story, um.  No, we together after that had four children, uh, including a set of twins.  And um, while I was married to him, we did, I did a lot of traveling.  I went to uh, well, my oldest child was born at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.  The other three children were born here in Detroit.



Because I would come back here because he was always going somewhere else, wherever it was he was going.  And so, he would be gone all the time.  But we also went with him to, uh, Clovis in Texas.
I:          Was he a lifer?
D:        No, he stayed in about 11 ½ years, 11 years something like that when he finally got out.  Um, we also went to, uh, and I worked, too, in Geoge Air Force Base as a civilian.



And we went to Okinawa for 19 months.  And I worked there, too, in Procurement as a civilian.

I:          Yeah, because of the fact you had gotten pregnant.  That was a no, no?

D:        That was you’re out.

I:          Okay.

D:        Period.

I:          And this was at Selfridge?
D:        That was at Selfridge, yes.
I:          What’d you think about Selfridge?  Tell me your experiences there.

D:        My experiences at Selfridge?  Well, we WAFS were in one little building that was a temporary building.



And we had a brig on the first floor where the bad girls had to be jailed which wasn’t thrilling.  And um, later on, they gave us some, if I say well used, that would be an understatement um, kind of housing that was closer to the main gate at that time.  That part is all gone now. It’s been torn down.



So, although I have been on base since then for a couple things including some hockey games, not hockey games but games with my grandchildren.  It doesn’t look at all the same place, not at all.

I:          And your duties there were just kind of secretarial, clerical?
D:        Clerical.  Absolute clerical, nothing more than that.

I:          That was kind of a disappointment for you?

D:        I was terribly disappointed because I felt underused and kind of abused in a way.



I felt as a woman that I was being mistreated, uh, that women were not treated fairly.  And to this day, I believe that.  I believe that happens in every place in the whole United States.  I mean, I know it’s a great deal better, but women still earn, what is it now, 69% of whatever it is that men ear doing the same job?  So, there’s still a very interesting women’s rights.

I:          That’s probably why you write the President.
D:        That’s one of the reasons.



One of the reasons.  I am, that’s not the only one.

I:          Did you try and fight the discharge at all?
D:        No.  There was no way to fight it.  That was the rule.  You were gone.  You didn’t question.  As a matter of fact, we were held in such low esteem that we were told we had to sign a document stating that we would never



ask or be buried in the main, um, outside Washington.
I:          Arlington?
D:        Arlington.  We would never be buried in Arlington no matter what the circumstance.

I:          Why is that?  Because of the chauvinistic uh?
D:        Well, that was my interpretation, yes, that it was chauvinistic, uh.  You know, we were trying to do our job.

I:          What was their explanation?
D:        And not all men got, had a gun and were fighting either.



I:          What was their explanation.

D:        They didn’t have an explanation.  There was no explanation to give.

I:          Wow.

D:        And I thought that was really rather awful.

I:          It was.  Very interesting and awful.  Have they changed that policy today do you know?

D:        I don’t know if that policy’s been changed.  I do know they treat women differently, that they’re allowed to remain on their training.  And they let them wear maternity clothes for as long as it is necessary.  They help them with childcare, um.



And I think that’s for the betterment.  And, although I worry sometimes about them all being mixed up because I think they’re young and they’re kind of foolish because I know I wasn’t the smartest person in the world when I was young.  And I’m sure every woman can say the same thing, that uh, when they’re 18, 19, 20, 21, that timeframe, you’re not very worldly.  I wasn’t worldly.

I:          So, your actual career



was shortened because of instance that you don’t believe should have caused that.

D:        Absolutely.

I:          But your husband was still in the Air Force.

D:        Yes, he was.

I:          And your background training was in the Air Force.  So, you followed him around.

D:        I followed him every time I could, yes.

I:          And it’s still that Air Force discipline mentality are with you.
D:        Well, to make it even worse, I started working for the Federal Government, Dept. of Defense,



and spent 30 years.  I retired from the Federal Government, um.

I:          And your grade was what?  G?
D:        When I, 11.  I was a GS11.

I:          That’s pretty high, isn’t it?
D:        Well, it is yes.  And, because I didn’t have a degree.  That was one thing.  But I did pass their college entrance examination which was, I was very proud of doing that, um.  It wasn’t a college entrance.  It was a test for college graduates.  I want to be more specific than that.



It was uh, and I passed it very highly.  And then I went to [INAUDIBLE] taking accounting lessons because I, accounting training because that’s what I was doing, uh, for the government.  I worked in Rochester, NY George Air Force Base and oh, there was um, Air Force Contract Management District in Concord in Detroit.  Then it moved and became Dept. of Defense



in the old Packard Plant if anybody knows what the old Packard Plant was.  And from there, I moved to, because they closed that down, I moved to [INAUDIBLE] town and spent the rest of my career there.

I:          This is after all the Air Force traveling is done?
D:        Yes.  Oh, I worked in those other places while, you know, some of it was as the wife of a military member.  For instance, Okinawa, I was working



Naha Air Base, and we lived on Naha.  And at George Air Force Base.

I:          In Okinawa?
D:        George was in California.

I:          Okay.

D:        In a desert.  And uh, Clovis, New Mexico um.  I was there, but I didn’t work at that time.  I had too many little babies.

I:          If you wouldn’t mind, could you tell me a little bit about your overseas Air Force/Civilian experience in Okinawa?  How was that?



D:        Well, I worked.  I had four children at that point.  And um, that was interesting.  Again, it was what they called local hire.  You get any extra money for being in an overseas area which is regular pay, and you get Social Security, nothing toward um, retirement or anything like that.  And that kind of job was a temporary position.



And I worked there.  I thought it was kind of interesting, um.  In Procurement, I remember that they bought, I don’t know, 200 perhaps, black umbrellas at one time because President Eisenhower was going to visit. So, they had to have you standing just in case it rained.  Now, it didn’t rain very hard in Okinawa that I can recall.


They had a lot of typhoons where we had been boarded up.  But I mean as a general rule, it didn’t, that was seasonal, and it didn’t really rain all that much all the time.  But they bought all these hundreds of umbrellas.  And we had then.  And he landed, I think, he and his family or his wife landed at Kadena Air Base and drove down the island of Okinawa to Naha.  And we were all instructed to be along



the roadside.  Ladies all had to have dresses and skirts on, no trousers of any kind.  And the children all had to be there and had to be dressed up also.  The girls had to have little dresses on, and the boys had to have nice little suits or, you know, shirts, nice shirts.

I:          Now you’re a civilian at the time.
D:        I’m a civilian at the time.

I:          So, you were following orders as a civilian?

D:        Well, yes and not at the same time.


I’m accustomed to orders.  That in and of itself doesn’t bother me as long as they’re just.  Uh, I do recall specifically in Okinawa that we had cars I drove around in this little car.  And I had to drive someplace.  I don’t know if it was to the PX or something to get groceries, something.  And there was this enormous display



of bloody, gory, horrible, mangled bodies and twisted cars.  And my children took one look at that horror, and they were screaming and crying.  It was really awful, really really awful.  And it upset me so much that my children were upset so much that when I got back home, I phoned the Commander on base, and I told him what I thought about that sight and how much it frightened my children.  Now one doesn’t do that, okay.



But I did.  And he said well, we put it up there because the men are not careful.  I said yes, but you have children here living here too, and they don’t need to see that.  And it really frightened my children terribly.  And the other thing I remember about being a civilian in there.  I had these little children.  Two of them, the twins were barely above being toddlers.  They were nine months old when we got there.  So, they were just little guys.



And one of them fell and hurt his shoulder.  And I took him to [INAUDIBLE] you know, medic area.  And they never showed him to a doctor, just the nurse, medic, I don’t know what he was.  I don’t know.  He was new.  But he wasn’t a doctor.  And he said well, tell him to exercise his arms, and he did one of these, you know,



made them move, and he’ll be fine.  So, I said alright.  So, you know, the kid is crying and crying for three days.  That child cried and cried.  And I looked at his shoulder, and it was like this.  This part of his shoulder was a good inch below this part.  So, I went back there and I took my child there, and I had this confrontation.



Now, normally I’m a peaceful person.  I was really, really pissed at that time.  So, he said, the guy at the desk said well, somebody already saw you.  He’s okay.  And I said he’s not okay.  I said he’s crying.  He’s been crying for the last three days, and you know, no one’s paying him any attention.   Nobody even examined him.  Nobody x-rayed him.  Nobody did anything.  But they kept telling me that he was alright.  But to look at his shoulder, and you could see that it had dropped down.



They weren’t even.  It was like this.  And he said well it’s, you know.  But anyway, I said I’m gonna pick up this typewriter and I’m gonna throw it right at you if he doesn’t get to see a doctor, you know.  I mean, I was really livid.

I:          You’re not confrontational.

D:        No.  I can be confrontational.  Well, you don’t mess with the mother who’s got little kids who’s not getting the kind of help that he needs.  So, finally a doctor came there, and he said well finally, a mother knew what she was talking about.



And he had this part of his bone, his clavicle, was pressing down and was just touching his lung or something right there.   And he was in great danger.  And he had not even seen a doctor until I actually had to threaten with physical violence.  Now, that was terrible. So of course, we had to get on a bus, not even an ambulance, a bus, and go to a hospital on another base



For him to be x-rayed and examined and put that kind of, sort of like a figure eight cast on.

I:          What’s your husband doing at this time?  Was he

D:        Oh, he was always absent.

I:          Oh.
D:        He was a husband who wasn’t there.  He was never there.  He just, he could be living with us, and he just wasn’t there.  I, you could look this up in your dictionary, but I always thought of him as being feckless, um.



Ineffectual as a parent, um.  He just wasn’t.  He was, uh, he had a band.  He liked to be adulated. He had a band, so they all had gotten these uniforms, and they would play in the various clubs on the island.  And he would be practicing.  So, and he loved the women coming up to him and ooing and awing over him.  I thought it was a little much.  But anyway.



Um, my face is very red from saying all this stuff.

I:          Well, I don’t want to take this journey any further right now.  Let’s go back to your son and you come to the other hospital.
D:        Yeah.  Well, they decided that he had a totally broken clavicle in two pieces and that he needed to be casted immediately.  And they needed to take great care of him cause he’s in very great danger of his lung.

I:          Thanks to his mom’s knowledge and concern.



D:        As I said, I don’t take these things lightly.

I:          No, ma’am.

D:        Never mess with a mother.
I:          Never mess with a mother.    Okay.  So, now that’s the experience that your boy had.  One of the twins was it?

D:        One of my twins, yes.

I:          One of the twins.  So,



you’re in Okinawa, and that was kind of an overseas experience.  Any other interesting things?

D:        Well, it was just interesting because I went to see things like making um, all stoneware and lacquerware and china and linens.  That was all very, I found that very interesting.

I:          Was there a little bit of poverty there that you had not seen before?
D:        Well, they lived extremely different than anything I had ever seen.



Well, of course they had no running water and no bathrooms.  That didn’t help a whole lot for them.  But they grew vegetables.  They had, they used the pieces of the [INAUDIBLE] to make, to surround their gardens.  But they fertilized it with human waste.  And of course, we were told to never ever buy or eat anything that came from the local economy because it may not be safe for us to eat.  I never did.



But at the time, we went to shop at the store, you could buy a whole loaf of bread for $.10 you know.  And they had pretty much the things that we needed except for clothing.  That was a little harder to get.  But I had a mother who loved to shop.  So, uh, she would do the shopping, you know, and send clothes to the kids a lot.  I paid her for it.  But anyway, she did the shopping.


She was a wonderful shopper.

I:          Are you still somewhat associated with the military cause your husband’s in the Air Force?  Did you see any

D:        Well, I divorced him.

I:          Oh.

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          And?
D:        Uh, I divorced him, I was married to him for 11 ½ years and divorced him because when he came back from Cambodia or North Korea or wherever the heck it was that last time, he went home to live with his mother in Florida and never left again.  So, I stayed married to him for some years after that.



And um, I was living, as I said, in Rochester, NY at the time with my sister and her husband.  And we sort of pooled our resources cause he was getting his doctorate, and I was working, and my sister stayed home and took care of all the kids. And we pooled our money and our physical resources and did all kinds of work together.

I:          Well, I was gonna ask while you were married to him during that period of time and your association with the Air Force as a civilian, did you see any change in the



rights of uh, the female military or you didn’t get close enough to it?
D:        You mean of late?
I:          Or back then, you know.  Was it still the same?
D:        Oh, it was like that until I don’t know when, maybe 20 years or something.  I don’t know, a very long time it seemed to me, um.  We didn’t see too many women, military, uh, in the offices that I worked as a civilian.  We had a few who were at Tacom.  Mostly they were men.



I was a supervisor at one point in charge of the military pay, travel pay and commercial pay.  And so, I did have some military members under me that were sergeants.  And um, they didn’t like it that I was a civilian.  They really hated it.  There comes

I:          They were jealous probably.

D:        Well, I don’t know about jealousy.  But uh, they certainly didn’t like it really.



They let me know they didn’t like it, um.

I:          Did you let them know that was too bad?
D:        Sort of.  Sort of, yeah, because we have jobs to do, and we’re supposed to do them.  But I always had difficulty with.  If you have a rule, you follow it, okay.  You tell me a rule, and I will follow it.  But if you follow it and you don’t have other people following it, then it’s not a rule, and it should be gone.  It should be changed.  It should be abolished.



It should be something.  That goes for lots too, today because I never saw so many things adhering to old policies that don’t make any sense at all, and they’re demeaning to people.  They should be changed.

I:          Were you able to further your education after the Service with any of the GI bills or anything?
D:        No.  No, I didn’t.  I had all these little guys, and it took me, between that and supporting them full time,



for a while, I couldn’t go back to school.  I couldn’t take advantage of the GI bill, though I could have, uh.  You know, technically I could have.  I simply couldn’t because I only had so many personal resources, so much energy, so much time.  But I did take classes here and there as I got older, more classes at Wayne and again some classes at [INAUDIBLE] And that was a little bit easier.  So, I did further my education.



I didn’t, you know, neglect it.  But it took me a while to get around to it.

I:          So, your journey finally ended up here in Detroit again?
D:        Um hm.

I:          Where your family is?
D:        Yes, my family is all from Detroit, this area.  Of course, my brother and sister haven’t lived in this area for a lot of years.  But the family at large is from this area.  And I’m comfortable here.  I guess I’m an east side treasure.


And that’s part of what I am.

I:          Before we end, I just, you know, today, many years later now and some of your experiences are military.  Some of your travel experiences/civilian military.  What are your feelings?  What did you gain from that?  Obviously, you’re a lady that likes to see change for the better.

D:        I’m not quite sure you



want me to enlarge upon that too much.  But I think there’s a great deal that needs to be done, and I fully support our military members because God knows they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.  And I think overall they’re doing it very well. I think your leadership is of the absolute worst time, careless, um, uncomprehending and do not choose to listen.



And I despair of our current administration.

I:          Any of your children get to serve?
D:        No, none of my children elected to serve.  Um, actually, I had a picture of their father, hand painted.  I asked my children if uh, if any one of them wanted that particular picture, and they said no.  I don’t even know who he is, no.



I don’t know.  But these people are going there, and they’re not supported, and they’re not planned for.  And that, to me, is just horrible, just absolutely horrible.

I:          Well before we close, I notice you brought in a picture of your beautiful self.

D:        When I was very young.
I:          Is this in Mississippi or Texas?
D:        No, that was in Texas.  That was in San Antonio at Lackland Air Force Base Texas.



I:          And what rank were you?
D:        At that time?
I:          Um hm.
D:        Basic, Airman Basic.  Cause I was just in when they first take your pictures.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I was just barely in.

I:          So, what rank did you finally?
D:        Um, I had two stripes at the time I

I:          What is that called, Sergeant?
D:        No.  It was Second Class.

I:          Airman Second Class?

D:        At that time, yeah.  Airman Second Class.



I would have liked to stay in because at that point, I would have had an opportunity to be a control tower operator. I was asked if I wanted to do that, and I really wanted to do that.

I:          You were ready to jump at that.

D:        Oh.  I, oh.  With open arms, I was ready to jump at that one.  But I couldn’t because they threw me out.  That’s what it felt like.

I:          That was their error, their mistake.



D:        Yeah, it was their mistake.

I:          Anything you’d like to finish up and say to, you know, people out there, the archives, the Library of Congress, uh, any fellow WACS that you might think of something, you know?

D:        I wish all of them very well.  And I hope they will be treated very well by the government and by the people.  I never want to see people being treated



[INAUDIBLE]  Viet Nam veterans, I think they should be applauded, cherished, prayed for, thought of, send boxes to, whatever they can do to make their life a little bit better because it’s gotten pretty horrible.  And I love them all.  I’m very military, I guess, the word is, and I love the military.

I:          Do you still have that military discipline in your life right now?

D:        Yes.



I:          Are you crying or laughing?

D:        Half and half.

I:          Well Diana, I appreciate you coming in today, uh.  I know you were a little nervous about how uninteresting you thought this interview would be.  But uh, I am glad that I heard these stories, uh.  I know for the little bit of time you were there, your heart and mind were there.  And unfortunately,



it didn’t work out like you planned.  But yet again, you took away the disciplines and the other things from the Service.  And you know what it’s all about.  And I’m honored that you served out country.

D:        I feel I served my country as well as a civilian.  And I’m very proud of that.  And I fly my Air Force flag.

I:          Yes, you do.

D:        My American flag.

I:          Yes, ma’am.

D:        I’m very proud, very proud.

I:          Gentlemen, do you have any questions you’d like to ask her before we close?

Male Voice:  Thank you for sharing your story.



D:        Thank you.

Male Voice:  I would like you to know that, uh, President Bush reviews all these videos personally.

D:        Does he really?  I hope he hears what I had to say.  I don’t think he reviews them personally.

Male Voice:  You know, if I was the President, I think I would enjoy very much hearing what you had to say.  I think it was a very personal presentation.  The information you shared was very useful if I was



making those kinds of decisions.  It wasn’t slanted.  So, I think these are the kind of things that people who make those decisions and those leaders should see.

I:          I also think that some of the things you say, people that hear them should also not only listen to them but feel what you say.  And maybe that’ll help make change.
D:        Well, you know, I love this country.  My parents came



from Europe.  My mother is German Lutheran born in Russia and educated in Canada.  My father was educated in Italy.  They came to the United States as very young children.  They didn’t have accents.  My father was very, very, very concerned that we would consider ourselves Americans.  We only spoke English, although my father’s first language was Italian,



and my mother’s first language is German.  We only spoke English because we were Americans.  I always remember that in my heart and soul, that we are Americans first, no matter where you come from.

I:          Yes ma’am. I agree.  Thank you, Diana.  I’m very proud to have met you.