Interview With Valerie B. Powell

From the interview with Valerie B. Powell of Killeen, TX conducted at the Fort Worden History Center by Pam Clise on July 3, 2002.  Ms. Powell served as Schools Officer in the Operations and Training Office at Fort Worden from 1950 to 1952.  When she and her husband, Theo Powell first arrived at Fort Worden to begin his assignment as Army Signal Officer, most of the men were gone.  He unsuccessfully applied for a transfer to San Francisco, because they wanted to be posted at a place with more people.  Here she relates how she coped with the situation:

“I decided I could go to work.  They said, ‘Oh sure, you could be the Operations and Training Officer’ and gave me the keys to the office and said ’You have a job.’ I didn’t have any background in that area, I could write, so they figured I could do the training manuals.  There was no one in the office when I started. The former training officer had been sent to Korea, I had one enlisted man there to help me but no one to supervise me.                The Army had a program that had training at different schools of different types throughout the nation. Military men could apply to attend sometimes for a couple of weeks or months.  I got acquainted with the officer who ran the school section at Sixth Army Headquarters in San Francisco and asked her how to go about getting applications for the men here.  We started sending more people from this little base than from other bases, because we discovered that this would be very helpful to them when they went into combat or whatever they decided to do.  We even found a diving school in Virginia.  Even my husband decided he wanted to go to Signal Corps school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey for about two or three months.  The men usually chose a school that was close enough to their home, so that after the school term was over they could have a few days at home.  That might have been the last time to see their families before they shipped out to Korea. There was one young man whose application to go to West Point was approved, I don’t know whatever happened to him.  Many did return to say how good the school was or whether they liked it or not.  It was an advantage that was afforded them to get better qualified.  The Chaplin School was very popular, although I couldn’t figure why anyone would want to go to Chaplin School.  I enjoyed working with the Army, it was an interesting time for me, working directly with people who were going overseas.   In 1952, just before they were getting ready to phase out Fort Worden, we were transferred to Fort Douglas, Utah.  I never did work for the Army again after I left Fort Worden.”

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