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Memoirs by sailors, soldiers and pilots who fought in World War II abound, but here is a rarity: a personal account by a woman who served in both the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the American Red Cross during the war and after the occupation.

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was established in 1942, allowing American women for the first time to serve, in supporting roles, in the military. The following year, Violet A. Kochendoerfer, an independent and adventurous young Minnesota woman, joined the WAACs. Always alert to new opportunities, she soon left for a job with the American Red Cross and saw much of World War II in the European Theater of Operations as she served as director of service clubs attached to military units in Britain, France, and Germany.

Kochendoerfer tells of enduring buzz bombs in London as her 315th Troop Carrier Group took part in D-Day operations; of providing service clubs for the 82nd Airborne Division as it forced the last bridgehead of the war; of witnessing the final surrender of the main German Army and the liberation of a concentration camp; and of meeting and celebrating with the Russians after the Germans surrendered.

Her story, some of it told through letters she wrote home, provides a woman’s unique perspective on historic events usually recounted only by men.

Violet A. Kochendoerfer became the first woman to graduate from the Starr King School for the Ministry in 1962 and served Unitarian Universalist churches throughout the United States and Canada before retiring to Minnesota.

"Kochendoerfer’s tale is unmarred by present-mindedness and provides a wealth of detail about wartime Europe. The author’s experiences in Britain, France, and Germany are unique. . . . Extremely useful."—Choice

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Violet A. Kochendoerfer, World War II, American Red Cross, Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, WAACs


Women's History

One Woman's World War II
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