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"Okay, Girls - Man Your Bunks!"

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"Okay, Girls - Man Your Bunks!", by Helen Gilbert.  Softcover, 2006.

As one of the first enlisted WAVES to join the U.S. Navy during World War II, Helen Gilbert shares her experiences in entering a traditionally male world.  Her story begins with her childhood during the Depression, and documents the domestic life of an ordinary American changed forever by the attack on Pearl Harbor.  After quitting her job at RCA to enlist, she attended radio school in Wisconsin and then served at U.S. Naval Air Stations at Corpus Christi and Pensacola.  She describes the pride she felt in serving her country, but also dishes about off-duty dalliances and joining the mile-high club in a flying boat.  Honorably (but mistakenly!) discharged 10 days after V-J Day, Helen and her best friend hitched a ride cross-country in the nose of a B-24 bomber.  Peacetime brought its own set of challenges, and she struggled to find work and acceptance as a female air traffic controller, and to keep her status as an emancipated woman in a rapidly changing world.  Later she would adapt to life as a mother of four and the wife of a domestic airline pilot.

 "OK, Girls - Man Your Bunks!"  documents one woman's life through its ups and downs, and her ongoing search for inner peace and serenity.  In her own words, we read of discrimination, marriage, children, tragedy, infidelity, alcoholism & recovery, and of how she learned to live life on life's terms.  She shares her thoughts on the world since Sept. 11th, and how it has changed America.  Whether recalling her role during the war or her life afterwards, Helen pulls no punches, and tells it like it was.