WASHINGTON, D.C. -
World War II veteran Ann Queen of Gwinn, second from left, had a welcoming committee to greet her when the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight group arrived at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Thursday: Two of her nieces. In the photo are, from the left, Laura Bianchi, Queen’s guardian on the trip; Queen; and Queen’s nieces Kathi Hagen of Grand Rapids and Karil Vose of Ohio. Queen was one of five female WWII veterans who took part in this edition of Honor Flight. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Elizabeth McQuade Carpenter was a 24-year-old school teacher when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
It was then she decided to enlist in the military, joining the WAVES, the women's division of the U.S. Navy.
"I had been teaching in Manistique," Carpenter said. "All the guys left after that. I liked to travel and I wanted to help my country. So I joined.
"It was a good experience," she said. "We did our basic training in New York, at Hunter College. I found myself on guard duty and I remember thinking to myself, 'I can't believe I am carrying a billy club.'"
She went to aerographer's school, training in meteorology.
"I enjoyed that," she said. "It was fascinating to me."
Carpenter was assigned to the Naval Air Station in Atlanta, Ga., for most of her 2 1/2 years in the service.
"The pilots would take me up to check out cloud formations," she said. "That was always interesting, too."
In fact, she enjoyed flying so much she went on to earn her pilot's license, then her commercial pilot's license. And she also enjoyed the chance to see some of the world away from Michigan where she grew up, first in Bay City then eventually in Marquette.
"When I was living in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to teach Navy kids," she said. "The chaplain there, a Father McQuaid, told me I should go home like a good girl and get married."
The then Elizabeth McQuade soon fell in love with Jack Oliver Carpenter and they married.
"Years later, Father McQuaid came in on a ship in Milwaukee as the chaplain," she said with a chuckle. "I brought my kids to see him. I had eight of them."
Ann Morrissey grew up in a small town in northeastern Iowa but wanted more than her community had to offer, so she took a train to Chicago and never moved back home.
Instead, she began training as a nurse at St. Mary Nazareth Hospital, both living and working at the facility. She graduated after three years, just as the Second World War was beginning.
Despite her mother's efforts to get her back to Iowa, Queen found another path.
"One day I was walking down the street in Chicago and went past an Army recruiting office. I had taken the state boards but didn't know if I had passed. The recruiter said, 'don't worry about the state boards, just sign here.' And I was in the Army."
She was 21 years old in the fall of 1942, serving stateside, until 1944, when she received orders to go to Europe.
"One memory of that time that really comes to mind was when I was in Belgium at the time of the Battle of the Bulge and was at one of the closest hospitals to the battle. I went to bed that night and they woke me up. They said, 'you're the only one working tonight and we have a planeload of patients.'
"I flew with the wounded soldiers to France," she said. "And that's how I spent my Christmas the year of the Battle of the Bulge."
In addition to Belgium and France, Ann spent time during the war years in England, then in Germany for a few months after the war's end.
Sent stateside, she met a wounded soldier named Paul Queen who was persistent in his pursuit of the pretty nurse, following her around in his wheelchair.
They married in 1947 and eventually moved to the Upper Peninsula, buying and operating cottages in the Gwinn area for decades.
Queen was absolutely thrilled by the Honor Flight experience.
"It was incredible," she said. "It was really remarkable. It's hard to describe and I cannot imagine all the work (organizer) Barb (Van Rooy) put into things.
"It was the trip of a lifetime."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.