As a member of the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service or WAVES of World War II,
She had her hair and makeup done on a recent Tuesday to talk about days gone by when women were first offered the chance to served this country in uniform.
"I wanted to run away to college" but couldn't afford it, Tibbitts said while seated at her kitchen table. "I just enlisted and l loved it. I got my life back."
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"Best of all, you enjoy a new pride and happiness -- a wonderful feeling of 'belonging' that comes from being with the people who are doing all they can to win the war and bring our boys home sooner," the brochure states.
"When I got to boot camp in
Tibbitts broke into song at this point in the conversation, singing about "Company 43" filling the guys' boots because they're new recruits. A smile spread across her face as the song, a little brittle with age, escaped her lips.
For the young
"Boot camp was a trip. I had never been around that many women before, women from all around the country," Tibbitt said. "Women from the midwest were so different from women from
The singing platoon performed all over the
After the movie was filmed,
"We had simulated instruments to use which gave them a seat in a [practice] plane," she said of the pilots. "They sat in these covered cubicles and learned to use them."
The training device simulated various types of flight, including banking, diving and stalling in mid-air.
When training cadets heading to the Pacific to recognize enemy air and watercraft, she would drill them over and over with the shapes, "so they could take a quick glance and know it was Japanese," Tibbitts said.
Many of the pilots had already seen combat and "they had this attitude" that alarmed her, but created a camaraderie amongst the group. They would say things such as, "Drink tonight because we die tomorrow," she recalled.
"They were a breed apart," Tibbitts said of the aviation cadets she trained in 1944-45 for the
While riding a bus home from base one day in
"I've had a wonderful life," she said, adding a little advice to those who are considering following in her footsteps.
"Do not shy away from experiences that make your life richer," the
Tibbitts moved to
Tibbitts said that while she was part of the first group of female
"I never had any trouble with women's rights and all that business," Tibbits said. "I have never had trouble with men, anyways. You have to put them in their place, respect them and, then, take care of them."
In addition to learning how to do a job that was needed to win the war and swear, Tibbitts joked, the
"They learned to do a job and do it right and they learned to protect and respect themselves as a woman," she said of the WAVES.
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