Contact: State Rep. Sherrie Conley
Office: (405) 557-7308
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, recognized Marine Cpl. Joan Willauer as the Veteran of the Week before the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday. She also authored House Resolution 1022, which recognized Monday as Women Veterans Day in Oklahoma.
Cpl. Willauer was born in Madison, WI, but has lived in Norman since 2000. She joined the Marines in 1943 when she was only 19 years old. Her mother had to sign approval papers for her to enlist as she was too young. Men in those days could join at 18, but women had to be 21.
Willauer served first at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but was later assigned to Cherry Point Naval Air Station, N.C., where she was responsible for distributing radio gear to all units on base and in the outlying fields for the supply section.
Willauer discharged from the Marines in 1946 and later married fellow Marine Cpl. Edward Willauer. The two had 8 children, 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
“I’m so proud to recognize Corporal Joan Willauer as our Veteran of the Week, especially on a day recognized as Women Veterans Day in Oklahoma,” Conley said. “Corporal Willauer showed such spirit and bravery in serving our country and demonstrated a true love and devotion to military life.”
“I’m also so grateful to the many Oklahoma women who are veterans of our armed forces,” Conley continued. “Their choice to serve their fellow citizens and our nation came at incredible cost to themselves and their families, and I am forever grateful for their sacrifice.”
HR 1022 recognizes and salutes the service and sacrifices of the more than 29,000 female veterans who live in Oklahoma. The resolution notes that women have a long, courageous and largely unrecognized history of military service to our country. This stretches to the founding of our nation when women provided important support services as nurses, cooks, laundresses and clerks for the troops, and heroically stepped up to the front lines or risked their lives in other ways
The resolution goes on to recognize the contributions of specific women in our nation’s history, such as Clara Barton, who cared for the wounded and dying from Antietam to Andersonville during the Civil War, and Cathay Williams, who, after she was freed from slavery during the Civil War, dressed as a man to serve two years as an infantry soldier.
The resolution makes note of the thousands more women, whose names are unknown to history, who served national interests, largely without official recognition and commendation, in every conflict from the nation’s entrance into World War I until the present day.
With the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, women were finally allowed to serve as permanent members of the military and granted entitlement to veteran benefits. Today, more than 200,000 women, comprising about 10 percent of all service personnel, including dozens of female generals and admirals, are fully integrated throughout all branches of the armed forces, including combat components. It is estimated that one in 10 living veterans is female.