LIFE REMEMBERED: Dorothy Dwyer, who worked for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower as one of the first women shipped overseas during World War II, has died. She was 98.
Dwyer’s family will remember her for her loving, adventurous and humorous spirit, as well as for her love for gardening and serving her country.
In an recent interview, Dwyer shared a few of her photographs and memories from her military service, including a snapshot of Winston Churchill and the time she literally ran into French Gen. Charles de Gaulle in a hallway.
Dwyer was part of the first step in the offensive against Hitler’s European fortress, when the Allies moved their forces into North Africa in 1943.
At that point, she was working in the nerve center of the Allied effort in Europe and Africa.
“Churchill was there a lot to meet with Eisenhower,” she told The Columbian. “I was going around a corner and walked into the stomach of Gen. de Gaulle,” who stood about 6-foot-5.
“I saluted and left.”
Back then, she was Dorothy Grassby, and had enlisted Oct. 1, 1942, in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps — forerunner of the Women’s Army Corps (WACs).
Dwyer was previously part of the Boston area’s aircraft warning system, where she would listen for airplane engines and report anything that didn’t sound like an American plane. She also registered military-aged men for the draft. That’s when she started thinking about joining herself.
“I was four months short of 21, but they needed us,” she said in 2009. “Dad said it was too dangerous. I went anyway.”
She completed basic training at a former Army cavalry post, Fort Des Moines, Iowa. In the summer of 1943, Dwyer’s unit boarded the SS Santa Rosa, an ocean liner that had been converted into a troop ship. They landed at the Mediterranean port of Oran, Algeria, on Aug. 21, 1943, then boarded a train for Algiers.
Later in her career, Dwyer joined the staff of Gen. Benjamin Chidlaw, deputy commanding general of the 12th Tactical Air Command. Her job was to write letters home to the families of people killed or missing in action.
“No two letters could be the same,” she remembered. “It was a hard job. Another GI and I did that.”
Dwyer served until June 1945, according to her family.
May God welcome you into your Eternal Rest, Mrs. Dorothy Dwyer, we humbly thank you for your bravery, dedication and leadership during your service in World War II. The world owes you a great debt of gratitude.
R.I.P., Mrs. Dwyer. Truly one of Our Greatest Generation.
The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation
“Where Every Day is MEMORIAL DAY”