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  • Writer's pictureTexas Heroes Museum

Tales of Texas Heroes – Part 3 – World War II Home Front

The outstanding contribution of Texans to the military in World War II is well established.  While the state’s population represented only 5 percent of the national total at the time, Texans accounted for 7 percent of the war’s military personnel, equaling more than 750,000.   Another 1.5 million people came to Texas for military training, and many later made the state their home.  The Texas Heroes Museum has a database that includes 3,155 names of Fayette County veterans who served in World War II.  More than 22,000 Texans – men and women – died during the war.

 

We must never overlook the service and sacrifice of the men and women who performed wartime civilian activities, known as the home front.  Without the solid support of the home front in the United States, World War II could have had a very different outcome.

 

The Texas Heroes Museum is planning a new display that features home front Texans in World War II.  I want to compile a list of Texas companies that produced materials to support the troops.  For example, I know that B-24 bombers and C-87 transports were produced by Consolidated Aircraft Corp. in Fort Worth, Texas. 

 

I know that several steel mills operated in Texas, but I don’t have company names.  There were several companies that produced weapons, ammunition, ammunition components, and explosives in Texas, but again I do not have details.  I heard that barrels for the big guns on battleships were made in Houston, but I don’t know which company.  Refineries, petrochemical facilities, and synthetic rubber plants in Texas all played crucial roles.

 

500,000 Texans moved from rural areas to job markets in nearby cities.  We would love to have your ancestors’ stories in our museum.  For example, my father built aircraft hangers in the Texas Valley before he was drafted.

 

Farmers had to do the critical work of feeding the nation and the troops without the help of their young sons who were in the military.  There was rationing and shortage of supplies.  The entire World War II generation made sacrifices, and sacrifice is our museum’s definition of being a hero. 

 

I sometimes hear people regretfully say that our soldiers died in vain.  This is not true.  They died so that we could live in freedom.

 

A special mention needs to be made about the contributions made by women during World War II.  Wives were separated from their husbands.  They had to raise their families without the help of their husbands.  Communication was made by writing letters, and it might take weeks for the letters to be delivered.  Where were their spouses?  Were they still alive?

 

Many women went to work in factories to support the war effort.  Companies needed to hire workers to replace the men that went into the military.  Women entered male occupations and became punch-press operators, assembly-line workers, and riveters.  Rosie the Riveter became a well-known symbol of women workers.  Women joined the Red Cross.  La Grange’s iconic Norma Webb was the field director of the American Red Cross recreation facility in Bari, Italy.  Many women joined the military, performing non-combat roles such as code-breaking, communications, and clerical functions.  Over 1,100 women from across the nation made it through the Army’s rigorous selection process to earn silver wings.  These Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) helped train male pilots at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, the nation’s only all-female air training facility.  WASPs ferried bombers and fighters across the country and overseas.  Thirty-eight WASPs did not survive the war.

 

Please help us by documenting what your family did to support the war effort.  Help us document the many Texas industries that supported the wartime effort.   Send your stories to texasheroesmuseum@gmail.com with “WWII Home Front” as part of the subject line.

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