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Unofficial Ambassadors

American Military Families Overseas
and the Cold War, 19461965

Donna Alvah

New York and London

new york university press

New York and London
2007 by New York University
All rights reserved
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Alvah, Donna.
Unofficial ambassadors : American military families overseas and the
Cold War, 19461965 / Donna Alvah.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-0501-8 (cloth : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 0-8147-0501-4 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Families of military personnelUnited States. 2. Military
spousesUnited States. 3. AmericansForeign countriesHistory
20th century. 4. United StatesArmed ForcesForeign countries
History20th century. 5. Cold War. I. Title.
UB403.A469 2007
New York University Press books are printed on acid-free paper,
and their binding materials are chosen for strength and durability.
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For my mother and father,

and for Elun





Going Overseas


Unofficial Ambassadors


A U.S. Ladys World


Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans


Dear Little Okinawa


Young Ambassadors




About the Author



I first discussed the idea for this study with Professor Roland
Marchand many years ago. From the start, Roland liked the prospect of a
project that analyzed the contributions of women and families to foreign
relations. He served as my dissertation supervisor until he passed away in
November 1997. I remain grateful for his encouragement and advice.
I must thank many other people who, in reading all or parts of the
manuscript at different stages of its creation, have offered scholarly scrutiny, practical advice, reassurance, generosity of time and energy, and a
good sense of humor. I have benefited from Andy Rotters thinking on
gender and Cold War foreign relations, and also on writing and chapter
organization, and last but not least from his and Padma Kaimals kindness
and friendship. From my first meeting with Karen Halttunen in 1993, I
admired her insight and sharp thinking, and knew that working with her
would be a privilege. Her contributions as a dissertation supervisor
straightforward critiques of the strengths and weaknesses of all the chapters at various stages, from the first to the last drafts; readings of conference papers; discussions of my concerns; keeping me on track to meet
deadlines; suggestions for consulting with other professors outside her
own field of expertise; and steady encouragementwere exactly what I
needed to get through. I also appreciate Jay Mechlings suggestions on
children and American culture; Cynthia Enloes feedback on women, gender, race, class, the military, and international relations; Judith DeGroats
thoughtful suggestions on a later version of the manuscript; and Steve
Rabsons close reading of and advice for parts of the manuscript. The
comments of two anonymous readers were quite helpful.
At conferences, several scholars assisted my thinking on this project,
including Robert Dean, Catherine Forslund, Petra Goedde, Walter Hixson, Maria Hhn, Christina Klein, Andy Rotter, Alex Epstein, and Molly
Wood. The Cross-Cultural Womens History group in the University of
California Davis Department of History, the Committee on Lesbian and
Gay History, and the Cold War History Group at the University of California at Santa Barbara sponsored presentations of my research. I thank

them for giving me the incentive to write papers that became parts of
chapters, and for the opportunity to share my work and make contacts
with other scholars.
Numerous people who aided my research deserve thanks and recognition. I am especially grateful to Dr. John Slonaker, formerly at the US
Army Military History Institute, for introducing me to the institutes collection of U.S. Lady magazine and for pointing me toward other useful
documents. Angie Stockwell of the Margaret Chase Smith Library was
one of the most energetic, generous, and helpful people I encountered in
my research travels. I appreciate Ellen Swan Mazzers and Clifton Hyatts
help with obtaining images. Dennis Bilger at the Truman Library located
numerous documents. The gracious and able assistance from the staffs at
the Eisenhower Library in summer 2000 and the LBJ Library in summer
2004 made my visits to those sweltering sites worthwhile as well as more
pleasant. Morten Ender shared information on military families abroad
and sent informative articles. I also would like to thank the staff at the
Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University for obtaining documents and information. Indispensable assistance from St. Lawrence University students Katherine Gay and Alicia Dewey also helped to create this
Thanks also to editor Deborah Gershenowitz, editorial assistant Salwa
Jabado, and managing editor Despina Papazoglou Gimbel at New York
University Press for answering my many questions and guiding me
through this process. And many thanks to the copy editor, Marie Milton,
for catching errors in typing and notes.
I am indebted to Thomas Drysdale and the American Overseas Schools
Historical Society for support of this project, and for crucial assistance
with the questionnaire project. The historical society publicized my study
in its newsletters and solicited questionnaire respondents. Tom personally
recruited respondents and distributed questionnaires. The AOSHS members and others who participated in the study or gave me their memoirs
former service personnel, educators, and service childrengenerously invested their time and energy in providing detailed, thoughtful responses
for my study. They, and the many others who told me that they had lived
overseas in a military family or served in the military abroad, frequently
reminded me of the significance of this population and motivated me to
carry on with my work.
I am thankful for funding from the following sources: The St. Lawrence University Academic Deans Office, for small and large grants;
SLUs Department of History, for Vilas research funds; the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library Foundation, for a research grant; and the Ada E.
Leeke Research Fellowship, for research at the Margaret Chase Smith Lix Acknowledgments

brary. In addition, I received funding at earlier stages of this manuscript

from the Pro Femina Research Consortium (now the Consortium for
Women in Research), the Office of Graduate Studies, the Cross-Cultural
Womens History group, and the Department of History, all at the University of California, Davis; and the University of Californias Institute
on Global Conflict and Cooperation. All these awards made possible the
research for and writing of this book and reinforced my sense of its importance.
As much as I love research and writing, they can also be isolating and
taxing. Friends and family proved essential to maintaining a positive
frame of mind and pushing forward. Samantha Yates Francois has been
an encouraging and steadfast dear friend. Samantha, and also Phillip Fiamengo, Michelle Loulis, Kathleen Teager, Mary Yaeger, and Tammy Bonneville gave vital emotional backing over the last several years. My colleagues at St. Lawrence University, especially in the Department of History, have been professionally and personally supportive. My mother, L.
Dianne Nickerson, and my late father, Don Alvah Johnson, maintained an
unfaltering faith in me. Pat Sherrys kindness and concern have been very
important to me. My siblings and siblings-in-law and their children, in
person and through irreverent e-mails, made me laugh and helped keep
me connected to the world outside the book: they are Lowell Niles; D.J.,
Jennifer, and Darwin Johnson; Ro and Mike Hurley; Ashley Johnson;
Marlene and Ren Amry; and Ditas Amry-Wei. Marianne Gabriel Mejia,
Freddie Mejia, Mark Gabriel, and Barbara Anders have been wonderful
and caring in-laws. Basquiat, Darwin, and Willow have been sweet and
fun companions. I thank them and the rest of my and my husbands family for their love and enthusiasm.
Josephine Alvah Gabriel came into my life during the last summer of
this books production. I cant say that she helped the book come out any
faster, though I did enjoy the time spent holding her and watching her
learn to smile and talk. She doesnt have to become a historian, but I
hope she will eventually appreciate the study of history for understanding
the world she is growing up in.
Finally, I am grateful to my husband, Elun Gabriel, for his many contributions to this project and my well-being during the research and writing
of it. Elun closely read drafts at various stages, offering astute analytical
observations, writing advice, and interpretations of German and Italian
words. He cheerfully endured countless discussions about various aspects
of the project, patiently listened to my concerns, mulled over trouble spots
and interpretations with me, and made phone calls on my behalf. Every
day I marvel at the good fortune to have as my partner such a loving
friend and fellow historian.
Acknowledgments xi


In the mid-1970s, life on the island of Okinawa was exciting

for an American middle-schooler in an Army family. I made close friends
among the other kids in the family housing area. For many of us, living in
Okinawa was an adventure, although some kids lamented that their families had not been sent to more enchanting places like Germany or England
instead. But we tried to make the most of our three years on the island.
Within the housing area, beyond the baseball field for American families,
we sometimes played in what we called the boonies, trekking through
heavy foliage and underneath the webs of huge spiders to visit an Okinawan tomb, mysteriously empty. Other times we ventured beyond the
chain link fence surrounding the base housing to walk along a stretch of
highway lined with Okinawan shops, where we bought Japanese candy,
Hello Kitty paraphernalia long before it came into vogue in the United
States, bootlegged cassette tapes, food for my mynah bird (also acquired
from an Okinawan pet shop), and souvenirs. We thought we detected subtle disapproval in the faces of some Okinawan shopkeepers toward us
Americans, and speculated that this must have had something to do with
Japan losing the war to the United States, and maybe the atomic bomb; or
perhaps they were just concerned about children bumping into fragile
wares or shoplifting. At the Department of Defense middle school for military dependents there were several kids from Japanese-American families
(and many others from marriages between American servicemen and
women theyd met in host countries), but most did not have relatives in
Okinawa. Most of the Okinawans we encountered on- and off-basethe
school bus drivers, the maids and seamstresses who came to American
homes, the waitresses and shopkeeperswere quietly polite to us. The
only hostility that I recall was Okinawan schoolboys on the side of the
road throwing rocks at our green military school bus as it passed them. I
didnt know why and didnt think too much about it, and figured that it
must have something to do with the memory of World War II. I knew that
the war had destroyed much of the island, but I knew nothing of the history and politics of U.S. bases on the island.

This book is an effort to understand why the United States sent military families to overseas bases after World War II, and the significance of
their presence in the Cold War. Although World War II ended in 1945, the
United States continued to maintain bases around the world. In 1946, the
government arranged for family members to join military personnel (the
vast majority of them men) stationed abroad. Although military families
had lived in U.S. overseas territories since the early twentieth century,
their numbers were few in contrast to the hundreds of thousands of
spouses and children who traveled to foreign stations after the end of
World War II. In 1960, over 600,000 armed forces personnel and 462,000
members of military families resided abroad.
This is a history of how military family members living overseas during the first two decades of the Cold War considered themselves representatives of the American way of life and participants in Cold War objectives. In the years following World War II, military families came to be
considered significant players in relationships between the United States
and the countries that housed its overseas bases, first in the occupations
of Germany and Japan, then during the Cold War. During the 1930s,
most Americans and their government leaders had wanted to avoid military involvement in international conflicts. But during World War II, a
majority of Americans became convinced that stabilizing the world and
preventing foreign aggression in the future necessitated a strong U.S. military presence abroad and far more prominent U.S. leadership in international affairs than before the war. Yet although the United States emerged
from the war a military superpower, American policymakers knew that it
would take more than the potential for force to succeed in foreign relations. Displays of American benevolence and willingness to cooperate
with other nations could help to persuade allies as well as former enemies
to go along with U.S. foreign policy goals. Military officials and members
of military families articulated an ideal of families as unofficial ambassadors, who in projecting American good will would help reform occupied Germany and Japan and aid Cold War military and foreign relations
goals. To those who viewed service wives and children as representatives
of the United States, opposition to communist expansion required not
only masculine displays of military mightoverseas bases, uniformed
personnel, and weaponsbut also feminine demonstrations of American sensitivity toward and cooperation with the residents of countries
that housed U.S. bases. While servicemen in their official capacity represented U.S. military power, service wives and children, and to a lesser extent men as husbands and fathers, could be more convincing representatives of American good will and cooperation abroad. In endeavoring to
cultivate friendly relations with local peoples, however, family members
2 Introduction

also aided U.S. military and diplomatic goals by reinforcing American

dominance abroad.
This book examines the significance of women, children, and men in
their family roles in U.S. Cold War military objectives and foreign relations. It is during the postwar occupations and the Cold War that the military establishment began to forthrightly acknowledge the necessity of
families for supporting military personnel and, by extension, overseas
bases and operations. The military also viewed families as potentially influential in strengthening ties between military communities and local residents, and even advancing foreign relations goals by helping to generate
support for the U.S. military presence and Cold War objectives. Military
officials and guidebooks expected families to exert friendly, cultural influence in foreign countries, alongside soldiers and weapons that embodied a
resolute stance against the encroachment of communism.
Before the early 1990s, most (though certainly not all) scholarly works
understood foreign relations to encompass mainly activities conducted by
state officials, and regarded military history as largely about great male
leaders, soldiers, battles, and weapons. These studies are valuable for my
analysis, and some are cited here. Scholarship produced in the last two
decades, however, has expanded diplomatic and military history (to the
chagrin of some traditionalists) to give far greater consideration to cultural and social dimensions, including race, sexuality, and gender.1 Many
of the scholarly innovators pursue ideas articulated by historian Joan
Wallach Scott in the late 1980s, who drew from a variety of disciplines,
including anthropology and literary theory, to advocate rethink[ing] the
history of politics and the politics of history. Gender roles and ideas
about gender differences are not essential, universal, or timeless; rather,
they are social constructions, historically and culturally specific, based on
assumptions about biological sexual differences. Concepts of gender have
been, and are, expressed, defined, and redefined not only in relationships
between men and women but also in war, diplomacy, and high politics,
which, Scott noted, many historians did not envision as gendered.2 In her
1990 essay on gender and foreign relations, historian Emily Rosenberg
furthered this enterprise of rethinking history by asking how are histories of womens roles and gender patterns becoming relevant to studies of
United States foreign relations? As Rosenberg pointed out, if we take the
approach of looking in the historical record for women who engaged in
foreign relations in official capacitiesfor example, as heads of state or
ambassadorswe will find relatively few. A second approach, then, is
the study of women doing womens work, at home and abroad, which
requires us to extend our understanding of foreign relations beyond governmental diplomacy and war. But limiting analysis to the rare women
Introduction 3

who made it into the elite mens world of international politics, or to

women who participated in foreign relations by doing what was defined
as womens workfor example, as missionaries or diplomats wives
risks reinforcing notions of inherent rather than socially constructed differences between men and women, the work that they do, and the spheres
they inhabit. Rosenberg argues that it is necessary to complement the
first two approaches to studying women in foreign relationsthe exceptional women approach and the women doing womens work approachwith an analysis of gender ideology in the historical context
under scrutiny.3
In Unofficial Ambassadors, American family members interactions
with local peoples within the context of postwar gender ideology helps to
achieve a better understanding of how masculinity and femininity were
constructed in this era, as well as of the exercise of power in relationships
between Americans and residents of occupied and host nations. The prevalent conception of the postWorld War II era is of a time when ideally
(even though this certainly was not the case for everyone) women were
first and foremost wives and mothers who dwelled primarily in the domestic sphere, leaving the world of national and international politics to
men. But as Joanne Meyerowitz has shown in her study of womens magazines from the period, the postwar feminine role also accommodated
public activities, including work outside the home and political participation.4 Military wives, usually in unofficial capacities, engaged in occupation efforts and Cold War international politics in interacting with local
peoples and in encouraging fellow service wives to do so as well, to help
advance U.S. foreign policy and military objectives.
Analysis of these gendered interactions and how they were portrayed
benefits from consideration of Joseph Nyes theory of hard power and
soft power. Soldiers (most of whom were men) and the potential for
military force represented a form of hard power in the United States efforts to prevent the spread of communism to occupied and allied nations,
while military wives and children could exercise soft-power influence by
attracting, rather than coercing, residents of occupied and host nations to
support U.S. Cold War goals.5 This study of the Cold War roles of American military personnel and military families, however, shows that the
American gender ideology of this period did not limit men to masculine
hard-power tasks; nor were womens and childrens soft-power activities
abroad of significance only in domestic and unofficial venues. Servicemen
engaged in soft-power activities such as charitable efforts to aid inhabitants of occupied and host nations, while military wives and children ultimately supported the hard-power U.S. military presence overseas, which

4 Introduction

often entailed the reinforcement of hierarchies between Americans and

local peoples.
Besides considering how gender conditioned and influenced relations
between peoples of different nations, historians also have analyzed how
race relations and ideas about race shaped and were shaped by foreign relations. Authors such as Mary Dudziak illustrate how as the postWorld
War II civil rights movement in the United States gained increasing visibility internationally, U.S. government leaders became more concerned that
Jim Crow laws and violence toward peaceful African-American activism
at home caused people abroad to question Americans claims that their
nation represented democracy and justice for all as opposed to the tyranny of communist societies. Other works examine how the racial attitudes of the occupiers and the occupied in Germany and Japan shaped relations between the United States and its former enemies.6 These and
other studies of race and foreign relations inform this books consideration of how racial attitudes influenced relations between Americans and
occupied and host nation peoples, and could reinforce alliances between
white peoples (as in West Germany) and also U.S. dominance (as in Okinawa).
Primary accounts, including military documents, offer information
about American military families overseas during the Cold War, and the
armed forces have produced white papers and other analyses concerning
military families, but historical scholarship by Americans focusing on this
subject is scarce. One of the earliest scholarly studies to examine military
family life abroad in this period is sociologist Charlotte Wolfs Garrison
Community: A Study of an Overseas American Military Colony (1969),
which includes firsthand observations on the activities and attitudes of
members of military families stationed in Ankara, Turkey during the late
1960s.7 Nearly two decades later, Martha Gravois, an Army wife who
had lived in Germany, completed a masters thesis in history and published an article analyzing the foreign policy roles of American families in
Germany after World War II. Gravois found that families participated in
occupation efforts and represented the United States commitment to defend Western Europe during the Cold War.8 Of the other scholarly studies
that give some attention to the presence of American military families
overseas during the postWorld War II occupations and the Cold War,
most focus on Germany, probably because this is where the largest population of Americans affiliated with the military were stationed.9
Unofficial Ambassadors builds upon these and other works that have
broadened the scope of the history of foreign relations and the military after World War II. Petra Goeddes study of relations between U.S.

Introduction 5

soldiers and West Germans, especially women and children, shows how
Americans in occupied Germany came to see their former adversaries as a
feminized, victimized people instead of despicable proponents of the Nazi
regime. Interpersonal interactions, which in many cases led to marriages
between American men and German women, contributed to the softening
of U.S. occupation policy in the months and years immediately following
the war and helped to transform the United States and West Germany
from enemies to allies. Maria Hhns analysis of postwar German-American relations focuses on the influence of the U.S. military in Rhineland-Palatinate in the 1950s, and German responses to this ranging from welcoming to hostile. Like Goedde, Hhn discusses informal social relations between Americans and Germans. She shows that while Germans generally
tolerated relationships between German women and white U.S. soldiers,
they objected to German womens relationships with black soldiers. German critics of the American presence in this period employed racist arguments to oppose housing the foreign military.10 Whereas Goedde and
Hhn focus more than I do on military personnel, and solely on Germany,
American military families in several countries are at the center of Unofficial Ambassadors. Also, both Goedde and Hhn give extensive attention
to German responses to the U.S. military presence and use many German
source materials, while this book emphasizes American experiences and
perspectives in various locales.
A landmark in the historiography of early Cold War American families
is Elaine Tyler Mays study of how the postWorld War II nuclear family
ideal and expectations that Americans assume traditional gender roles
and produce numerous children represented stability and security to
Americans in a world where people feared communist encroachment and
nuclear warfare.11 Whereas Homeward Bound focuses on families in the
United States and how the nuclear family ideal reinforced anti-communism domestically, Unofficial Ambassadors scrutinizes the idea that military families in foreign locations considered strategically crucial in the
Cold War represented the American commitment to anti-communism internationally, as well as the alleged superiority of the American way of life
believed to be characterized by freedom, democracy, and prosperity
to life under adversarial regimes. In other words, this book analyzes the
significance, in Americans minds, of Cold War American families in the
wider world rather than only within the United States.
Primary sources used here include military reports, memoranda, official announcements, and guidebooks; statistical data from the Bureau of
the Census and the Department of Defense; writings by service wives, children, servicemen, and educators; newspaper, magazine, and journal articles; images; memoirs; and fiction. Articles and other items from U.S.
6 Introduction

Lady, a magazine chiefly for military wives published between 1955 and
1968, provide valuable insights into these womens roles abroad. The
magazine is cited throughout the book; I discuss it at length in chapter 3.
Other important accounts of life overseas come from a questionnaire project conducted between 1999 and 2000. In this project I gathered accounts from forty-eight former service children, educators, and servicemen (out of approximately ninety questionnaires distributed) that described their experiences in occupied and host nations between 1946 and
1965. Many of the questionnaire respondents permitted the inclusion of
their names in citations, though several requested confidentiality.
Although some attention is given to high-level foreign policymakers
and military leaders, Unofficial Ambassadors focuses on ordinary women,
children, and men as significant actors in foreign relations. American
power in the Cold War was derived not only from the capacity for military might and displays of toughness but also from friendly and feminine influence. The Cold War was a fierce ideological battle as well as a
military contest. Military family memberswives, children, and servicemen as husbands and fatherswere expected to contribute to the ideological rivalry with communism by representing what Americans considered the best aspects of their way of life. Their deportment, homes, and
family relations were to embody the freedom and prosperity believed to
flow from American political and economic institutions. Military documents and accounts from family members reveal that many service wives
and children, and some servicemen in their family roles, indeed considered
themselves advocates of their nations military and foreign relations goals.
I do not claim that all or even most military family members took on
the unofficial ambassador role in the period under investigation or mixed
extensively with residents of occupied and host nations. I am, however,
attempting to refine the widespread notion of Americans in military families abroad living rigidly separated from local peoples, and the unquestioned assumption that most contacts that did occur were trifling and
therefore undeserving of closer scrutiny. A statement from a recent book
on the history of the global U.S. military presence might perpetuate these
notions: The Little Americas [compounds where Americans affiliated
with the military lived] made life easier for personnel and their families.
On the other hand, they isolated Americans from their host communities,
and as a result most members of the military community were exposed to
foreign cultures only in small and superficial ways, such as tourism, eating in restaurants, and occasional shopping in local stores. The authors
discussion of American military families abroad is brief yet is more extensive than what one will find in the vast majority of histories of the
U.S. military. Furthermore, her observation that most Americans lived in
Introduction 7

self-sustained communities is not untrue, and she does go on to briefly discuss some ways in which Americans and local peoples interacted in the
1950s and 1960s (mainly in events sponsored by the U.S. military).12
Nonetheless, I worry that most readers would come away from this portrayal with their presuppositions intact: that Americans in military families had little or nothing to do with local peoples, and therefore their overseas presence made little impact and held little import. I want to demonstrate that in order to understand the cultural, social, and political
influences and significance of the U.S. military overseas (a subject that has
received too little scholarly attention, considering that millions of Americans affiliated with the military resided abroad in the last century), a
closer look at military family members interactions with local residents is
warranted. Yes, many military families lived in Little Americas, but
these were more permeable than many civilian Americans assume. Also,
as a person who fervently values cultural history and is fascinated by the
meaning of seemingly small and insignificant human statements and actions, I wish to challenge the notion that superficial contacts between
Americans and local peoples meant little. The gestures which we sometimes call empty are perhaps in fact the fullest things of all, wrote sociologist Erving Goffman.13 What did it mean when, in the context of occupation and Cold War, an American military wife tried to say a few polite
words in Japanese to a shop owner? Or when American youngsters
played pranks on Germans? These may have been small acts, but they
were not insignificant.
The first chapter of this book investigates why and how families joined
military personnel stationed abroad starting in 1946. After World War II,
the military maintained overseas bases to police, rehabilitate, and rebuild occupied countries, and protect U.S. and allied interests. But in the
months after the Allied victory, American servicemen and servicewomen
around the world clamored to return to the United States. Military leaders
worried that servicemens crime, fraternization with German and Japanese women, venereal disease, and general low morale would undermine
military operations and occupation goals. In the meantime, women in the
United States complained that servicemens absence from families caused
emotional and financial hardship, and demanded the return of their husbands. But U.S. government and military leaders believed that their nations international responsibilities required maintaining forces abroad indefinitely. Military planners decided that sending families to foreign bases
would help to solve military and family problems, thus responding to social demands and the beginning of the postwar cultural idealization of the
nuclear family. In the fall of 1945, they began formulating plans to transport, house, and sustain spouses and children who would arrive in Ger8 Introduction

many in April 1946 and Japan in June 1946. Families also joined military
personnel in allied nations, usually staying overseas for two- or three-year
tours of duty.
Chapter 2 analyzes the emergence of the idea that Cold War foreign relations required not only a formidable military posture toward adversaries but also friendly guidance and understanding of peoples of occupied and allied nations, which military family members were to project.
Even before the arrival of families, military personnel abroad engaged in
self-initiated as well as officially organized efforts to demonstrate generosity and good will to allies and former enemies, especially children, in wardevastated countries. American popular culture explored such relations in
literary and visual depictions. As family members joined military personnel in Germany and Japan in 1946, the armed forces sought to make use
of them in occupation aims, and later in the Cold War. The military came
to conceive of family members, especially wives, as unofficial ambassadors in their relations with residents of occupied and host nations.
Through advertisements, prescriptive literature, and statements from military officials, the armed forces encouraged wives and their families to aid
military goals by extending good will to non-Americans. Informal friendly
contacts, military officials believed, would strengthen relations between
the United States and host and occupied nations and help win support for
maintaining U.S. bases.
The third chapter explores military wives perceptions of themselves as
unofficial ambassadors worldwide, and their efforts to define and enact
this role. In a time when according to stereotypes, reinforced in popular
culture, women were relegated primarily to domestic roles, American military wives abroad were engaging in foreign relations, albeit usually informally rather than officially. Many wives not only accepted but also expanded the ambassadorial responsibilities that the armed forces asked
them to shoulder. The most prominent women were officers wives who
took it upon themselves to guide military families in their relations with
local residents in a multitude of settings, including homes, charitable activities, schools for children of host and occupied nations, excursions to
historical and cultural sites, and international womens clubs. Their accounts of informal relations with local inhabitants reveal that they encountered an ideological contradiction: they were asked to demonstrate
appreciation of non-American cultures and customs, yet they also were to
advance U.S. Cold War goals by conveying to residents of occupied and
host nations the presumed superiority of the American way of life.
The subsequent two chapters focus on American accounts of relations
with West Germans and Okinawans, respectively, and examine how family members, especially wives, attempted to advance military and foreign
Introduction 9

relations aims in each context. The United States occupied Germany between 1944 and 1955, and Japan between 1945 and 1952, and continued
to maintain a large military presence in each nation long after the end of
occupation. Occupation goals in both countries included the establishment of democracy and the rebuilding of the economies. Both also were
considered strategically crucial sites in the war against the expansion of
Although West Germany (chapter 4) depended on the United States for
military and economic assistance after the end of occupation, military
wives and their husbands downplayed inequalities of power between the
two nations and promulgated the idea of an egalitarian AmericanWest
German anti-communist, anti-Soviet alliance that served both American
and West German interests. U.S. strategists wanted to maintain bases in
West Germany and West Berlin, depicted as bastions of freedom and prosperity on the Cold War battlefront between the Western powers and the
Soviet Union. Not wishing to appear as an imperialistic, militaristic aggressor that dominated weaker nations (which was how Americans perceived the Soviet Union), Americans helped to generate an image of AmericanWest German reciprocity and cultural commonality, and promoted
the U.S.West German alliance in the war to defend liberty and capitalism in Western Europe. West Germans accepted U.S. bases because they
wanted American military and economic aid and believed that they would
gain greater autonomy through alliance with the United States rather than
the Soviet Union. Though ambivalent about their status as a bulwark
in the Cold War, West Germans perceived the U.S. military presence as
largely conducive to their own goals. The affinities between white Americans and West Germans, however, were largely based on a shared sense of
whiteness, which perpetuated racism in U.S. military communities and in
German society.
While West Germany presents a scenario in which many residents of
that nation viewed the U.S. military presence as advantageous, Okinawa
(a prefecture of Japan and the largest and most populated of the Ryukyu
Islands) offers a contrasting scenario in which a majority of the people did
not regard the foreign armed forces as beneficial. Chapter 5 shows how
military wives attempted to demonstrate friendliness, generosity, and understanding to Okinawans, and to mitigate the negative effects of the military presence on Okinawan communities. Yet in positioning themselves
as maternal figures to Okinawans, American women ultimately reinforced
cultural and racial stereotypes of Okinawans as a backward and childlike people who needed guidance and protection from the United States.
They thus bolstered U.S. military control of the island despite Okinawans
strong preference for Japanese governance.
10 Introduction

Family Members of Armed Forces Abroad in 1960 and 1970

Europe & USSR
Canada & Mexico
Americas (except Canada and Mexico)





Sources: US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, US Census of Population: 1960, Selected Area Reports, Americans Overseas, pp. 5257, Table 9;
and US Department of Commerce, 1970 Census of Population: Subject Reports:
Americans Living Abroad, pp. 12, Table 1.

Chapter 6 examines the idea of military children as natural facilitators

of international friendship. The armed forces, mothers, and teachers envisioned American youngsters and teenagers as junior ambassadors who
learned languages quickly, made friends easily, and rapidly adapted to foreign cultures. American children learned about the customs and cultures
of the countries in which they were stationed, and encountered residents
of occupied and host nations in their homes, neighborhoods, schools,
youth clubs, and other venues. Service children were caught in the same
bind as their mothers: they were expected not only to demonstrate understanding and appreciation of local residents ways of life and promote international cooperation but also to represent the superiority of American
ideals and ways. Moreover, despite depictions of warm relations between
service children and local peoples, American children (like adults) did not,
of course, invariably behave as ideal ambassadors.
This study focuses primarily on Army and Air Force families in Western Europe and Asia. Army and Air Force personnel and family members
were more numerous than those in the Navy and Marines.14 A majority of
personnel and their families resided in Western Europe, mainly West Germany, or in Asia, mainly Japan. Navy and Marine families, and families
stationed in areas other than Western Europe and Asia, do appear here,
though to a lesser extent. Though details in advice literature and accounts
of relations between military families and local residents varied depending
on location, the idea of Americans as representatives of their country
who were to show friendship toward non-American peoples and respect
for their cultures, while representing American superioritywas essentially the same for all of the services and in all countries.
Although families of civilians employed by the U.S. government also
lived abroad, this study is most interested in military families. Military
personnel and their families abroad far outnumbered U.S. civilian government personnel and their families, and it is the experience and culture of
Introduction 11

military life overseas that I wish to focus on, though some observations on
the U.S. military presence abroad from American civilian employees and
their family members do appear herefor example, from teachers at U.S.
Department of Defense Dependents Schools. In addition, although I examine responses of residents of occupied and host nations to the U.S. military presence and, when possible, Americans in military families, these
perspectives are relatively fewer in this book. To hear the Americans tell
it, they were effective in establishing friendships and making positive impressions of how Americans lived. What did local people really think of
American military families? Most of the evidence of local views of American families is anecdotal. There were polls that attempted to assess local
views of the U.S. military generally, or of Americans generally (in occupied or host nations or in the United States), but I have not located polls
that asked for opinions on the presence of U.S. military families specifically. Individual interviews conducted by researchers reveal a variety of
local experiences with and views of American military families. This study
uses personal accounts collected by other scholars, and literature, to try
to answer the question of what residents of occupied and host nations
thought of Americans in military families.
Before continuing, a few words on terminology. Although military documents often refer to the spouses, children, and other relatives of personnel as dependents (and I occasionally will use this term), I prefer the
terms most used by military family members themselves, for example,
service wives, Army wives, or service children. I also employ a variety of designations for the residents of countries that housed U.S. bases.
I avoid the term foreigners, sometimes found in the American primary
sources, because of course Americans would have been the ones considered foreigners to the local peoples. Other terms used here include residents of occupied and host nations, local residents, local inhabitants, host nationals, local nationals, host citizens, local citizens, and non-Americans.
In scrutinizing American attitudes and accounts of experiences abroad,
I do not claim that actual relations lived up to the ideals expressed in the
official and unofficial prescriptive literature. Nor do I dispute that friendship, good will, and respect between Americans and residents of occupied
and host nations existed. Many Americans and local residents enjoyed
their acquaintanceships; some maintained friendships that endured for
decades after Americans left for new stations. Sometimes, however, actual
relations fell short of the ideals articulated in the military prescriptive literature and by Americans who took the ambassadorial role seriously.
Some Americans offended local peoples with their rudeness and arrogance. Racism among Americans poisoned relations between Americans
12 Introduction

and some residents of occupied and host countries. American racism,

along with rank and class hierarchies in military communities, contradicted American claims to represent freedom and equality to all the
worlds peoples.
Exploring encounters between Americans and residents of occupied
and host countries in their complexity is essential for understanding how
they contributed to, or in some cases undermined, U.S. overseas military
goals and Cold War foreign relations. After World War II, to be an American was to be a citizen of the worlds most affluent and powerful nation.
This fact colored any encounter, however seemingly superficial or innocuous, between Americans and residents of occupied and host nations. Yet
within the context of greater U.S. military, political, and economic power,
social and cultural relations took a wide variety of forms, some of which
reinforced and some of which partially effaced American dominance. This
is a story of how American military families engaged in the contested field
of Cold War military and foreign relations.

Introduction 13

Going Overseas

As World War II drew to a close first in Europe in May 1945,

then in the Pacific in August, American women looked forward to the
homecomings of husbands and fiancs. On the eve of the Allies official
announcement of victory in Japan, Rosie McClain of Washington wrote
to her husband Charles, a Navy man in the Pacific, that The whole
world is full of joy and expressing it in some way or another this evening.
I know its the ending of great suffering and pain of war. Darling, I cant
celebrate remembering the one I know cant come back [yet]. . . . God
willing, we will be together again. For all our lives, we can be together
again.1 The next day, Betty Maue of Pennsylvania wrote to her fianc,
Ario Pacelli, who was in Italy with the Army: I pray youre fine and that
you have good news about coming home soon, too.2
At the wars end, Charles McClain, Ario Pacelli, and hundreds of thousands of other service personnel faced the possibility of many more
months of overseas duty, far from family and home. In the United States,
women complained of family separation and demanded the quick return
of husbands and fiancs. I sympathized with parents still waiting to see
their sons, and with the wives and children longing to see their husbands
and fathers again, President Harry Truman recalled in his memoir, [but]
we had an obligation as a leading nation to build a firm foundation for
the future peace of the world. The future of the country was as much at
stake as it had been in the days of the war.3
Although the armed forces demobilized millions of service personnel in
the months following the war, the United States continued to maintain a
substantial military strength abroad, especially in occupied Germany and
Japan. But many servicemen stationed overseas after the wars end were
dispirited and preoccupied with going home. Some engaged in troublesome behavior that undermined military discipline and disrupted local
communities. Days after Germanys surrender, General Dwight Eisenhower privately expressed the certitude that the military would have to
enable families to join personnel overseas. By late 1945, military officials
who hoped to solve the problems of low morale and quell complaints

from the home front about the hardships of family separation were making plans to send families to join servicemen at overseas bases wherever
possible. Although the U.S. military allowed families to go overseas in
1946 chiefly to bolster servicemens morale, the military need to maintain
a large overseas presence coincided with Americans social demands and
cultural attitudes about the family. Thus, the establishment of American
family life abroad in the early postwar era served military goals, as well as
the needs of families and cultural ideals.

Postwar International Responsibilities

World War II, which had pulled in so many of the worlds nations, ended
three months after the Allied victory in Europe. In August 1945, American bombers dropped atomic bombs in Japan, first in Hiroshima, then in
Nagasaki. When the Allies declared victory in Japan on August 15, millions of Americans danced in the streets and anticipated the homecoming
of military personnel.4 More than sixteen million Americans had served
in the armed forces at some point between December 1941, when the
United States officially entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and late summer 1945, when Japan surrendered to the Allies.5 Seventy-three percent of service members had served overseas. Over 400,000
Americans died in the war; approximately 670,000 suffered nonmortal
Other nations and peoples fared far worse. Combat, sieges, starvation,
disease, aerial bombardments of civilian populations, and atrocities killed
tens of millions of people. Thirty-five million soldiers and civilians died in
Europe: approximately twenty million from the Soviet Union (one-sixth
of its total population), 5.6 million Germans, three million Poles (not including Polish Jews), 1.6 million Yugoslavs, and 1.6 million other Europeans. The Nazis murdered nine million Jews, Russians, Poles, and others
who were victims of their social and racial purity ideology. By May 1945,
an estimated 40.5 million people, many of them Germans and Eastern
Europeans, had been displaced by the war. Asian nations also suffered
greatly. Chinese civilian and battle deaths numbered as many as fifteen
million. The Japanese lost 2.7 million soldiers and noncombatants.7 When
Emperor Hirohito asked the Japanese people to accept their nations surrender, nearly nine million were homeless and 6.5 million military personnel and civilians were stranded abroad in various locales.8 While the
United States emerged from the world conflict a prosperous and powerful
nation, unmarred by warfare within its borders, other nations faced years
of repairing destroyed landscapes and economies.
Going Overseas 15

Yet the end of the war did not release the United States from international conflict. Although the Soviet Union had proved a crucial ally whose
enormous sacrifices helped secure victory, tensions between the U.S. and
Soviet governments had undermined the wartime cooperation between
the two nations. In February 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
met in Yalta with Britains Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet
leader Joseph Stalin, to discuss plans for the postwar world, including the
structure of the United Nations, the occupation of Germany, and the matter of free elections in the Eastern European countries taken by the Soviets
from the Germans. The question of democratic elections in Poland and
other Eastern European nations, which Roosevelt and Churchill urged
Stalin to allow, remained unresolved through the end of the war and became a raw nerve in international relations that contributed to the onset
of the Cold War.9
Nor did the cessation of hostilities free the United States from international responsibilities. Since 1942, the United States had planned for the
occupation of enemy nations.10 Upon achieving victory in Europe, the
United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union divided Germany into occupation zones. At the Potsdam conference in July 1945,
leaders of the four Allied powers discussed initial occupation goals: demilitarization, which included the removal of Germanys industrial capacity
to wage war; denazification, which entailed the eradication of Nazi ideology and the purging of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers from positions of
authority; the establishment of democratic government; the trial of war
criminals; and reparations to the occupying powers. Whereas the United
States shared the occupation of Germany and Austria with its allies, it
dominated the occupation of Japan, with nominal input from two international advisory boards. The demilitarization and democratization of
Japan composed the core of occupation policy there.11 Early in the occupations American policymakers did not focus as much as they would later
on the economic reconstruction of Germany and Japan. In the meantime,
because these countries were not economically or materially self-sufficient, the United States imported food and other necessities to alleviate
hunger and prevent disease.12
The United States took on other international responsibilities besides
the occupations of the leading Axis powers. The U.S. and Soviet militaries also occupied Korea, which Japan had controlled for four decades.
Soviet forces occupied northern Korea, while American armies occupied
the south. The Allies intended the occupation to restore Korean government and rebuild the nations economy.13 U.S. military personnel also
participated in the monumental task of sheltering and transporting mil-

16 Going Overseas

lions of prisoners of war, displaced persons, refugees, and expellees in Europe and Asia.14
Americans who remained in the armed forces or were drafted after the
wars end worried about the prospect of several more months, perhaps
even years, of staying overseas. In fact, no one could be sure exactly how
long the occupations in Europe and Asia would last. At the Yalta meeting
in February 1945, President Roosevelt said he believed that the American
people would tolerate only a brief occupation of Germany, and estimated
that public support for maintaining U.S. troops in Europe would last
about two years after the defeat of Germany. Other occupation planners
forecasted a longer stay in Germany, ranging from ten, fifteen, twentyfive, to even fifty years.15 In November 1945, a captain stationed in Germany wrote to Stars and Stripes to bemoan the lack of information about
the length of the occupation: We have nothing to look forward to except
a continuance for an indefinite period of this daily, drudging and uninteresting existence. We are all becoming mentally troubled by the uncertainty.16 This captain and other Americans serving abroad could not
have known in late 1945 that the occupation of Germany would last several more years.17
As in the case of Germany, U.S. government and military leaders found
it difficult to predict how long the occupation of Japan would last, or how
many service personnel would be needed there. News reports on General
Douglas MacArthurs statements about reducing personnel in Japan in
September 1945, and President Trumans public and private reactions to
MacArthurs announcements, reveal the uncertainty of occupation planning so soon after the war. MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the
Allied Powers in Asia, announced to the press on September 17 that the
occupation of Japan might require only 200,000 troops, rather than the
500,000 initially believed crucial.18 Truman later wrote in his memoir that
MacArthurs pronouncement, of which he first learned when questioned
about it by reporters, caught him off guard. In his public response to
MacArthurs declaration, Truman assured Americans that there would be
no padding in our armed forces and that personnel deemed unnecessary
would be released as fast as the services can get them out. But the President also stated that no one now can accurately forecast what our occupation needs are going to be, and suggested that the size and composition of overseas forces would remain unsettled until the spring of 1946.
Privately, MacArthurs maverick declaration had upset Truman. The President considered it embarrassing as well as destabilizing of his administrations attempt to balance demands for demobilization with military necessity. On September 18, Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson tried to

Going Overseas 17

neutralize MacArthurs announcement by stating that [nobody] can see

at this time the number of forces that will be necessary in Japan.19

Families During and After the War

While government officials attempted to plan for occupation needs, estimate troop numbers, and carry out other international objectives, American families who had tired of the unpredictability of the war years were
eager to establish a stable home life. Despite the domestic upheaval caused
by the entry of millions (mostly men, but also women) into the armed
forces between the fall of 1940, when President Roosevelt approved the
Selective Service Act, and the end of the war, marriage and birth rates
soared in this period. During the Great Depression of the previous decade,
the marriage rate had fallen below that of the 1920s, the birth rate had
declined, and the divorce rate had risen.20 In 1940, the year after the outbreak of World War II in Europewhich increased demand for American
industrial production, and thus provided employment opportunities that
had not existed during the depressionmarriage rates began to rise dramatically. Instead of deterring Americans from embarking on family
life, writes historian Elaine Tyler May, the war may have sped up the
process.21 In 1941 and 1942, the number of marriages in the United
States reached historic heights. The war also sparked the baby boom that
continued into the early 1960s. The reinvigoration of American industry
by war production, exemptions of married men and fathers from the
draft, and the impending departure of servicemen to foreign stations fueled the historically unprecedented surge in marriage and birth rates.22
Although the war revitalized the creation of families, it also upset routine family life. In January 1942, the director of the Selective Service asked
draft boards not to exempt married men without children from military
duty. The next year, the Selective Service moved to induct fathers into the
armed forces in order to meet predicted needs for personnel. Between October and December 1943, the percentage of fathers inducted into the services jumped from 6.8 to 26.5 percent; in April 1944, nearly fifty-three
percent of draftees were fathers. As of June 1945, an estimated four million men in the armed forces were married.23
Wives employed a variety of strategies to cope with their husbands
military duty. Some women accompanied their husbands to posts in the
United States, making homes and finding jobs on or near military bases.
Thelma Thurston Gorham reported that African-American couples in
Fort Huachuca, Arizona lived in cramped quarters she described as slum
dwellings, with no kitchens, where eleven soldiers and their spouses
18 Going Overseas

shared one shower and two sinks.24 Joining husbands on posts often
proved impractical in the United States, and was impossible when the men
departed for service in most foreign countries. Before 1941, the United
States had established military sites (mostly naval bases) in Alaska, Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Philippines, and
Panama. During the war, the United States vastly bolstered its military
presence around the globe, especially fortifying armed forces installations
in Europe and the Pacific.25 Approximately three out of four military personnel served overseas during the war for an average period of sixteen
months, many leaving spouses to manage households without them.26 The
formation of so many new families during the war, employment opportunities in cities, and the War Production Boards ban on nondefense construction precipitated a scarcity of affordable housing that prevented families from enjoying the domestic ideal of single-family dwellings. Some
women and their children lived with relatives while husbands were away
or shared houses with other families.27
The need to support themselves and their children placed many women
in the role of primary breadwinner and financial manager for their families.28 Wives, children, and others classified as dependents of enlisted
men were eligible to receive monetary allowances from the federal government, but these allowances did not cover all household expenses, especially in industrial cities where costs of living were high.29 Economic necessity, the desire to aid the war effort, and opportunities for personally
satisfying work prompted womens entry into the labor force, which increased sixty percent during the war years. Of the new women workers,
three out of four were married, and one out of three were mothers of children under fourteen years of age.30 In 1944, nearly 2.7 million mothers
held jobs in defense industries.31
Women not only supported families financially but also shouldered all
the other responsibilities of single parenthood in the absence of fathers.
Catherine Redmond, author of Handbook for Army Wives and Mothers,
told her readers that From the moment your husband goes into the Army
until his return you alone are responsible for the family, for the home and
the pattern of life your marriage has created. What has been a shared burden, or joy, now becomes a single one. Redmond advised women to assess their financial situation and budget living expenses, be honest with
their children about the need for careful spending, encourage children to
assist the war effort through collecting scrap metal and conserving resources, and not to try to compensate for the absence of fathers by being
either too strict or too lenient with children.32 Many military wives had
given birth to children who had yet to meet their fathers; other children
were too young to remember Daddy. Women who worked and raised
Going Overseas 19

children while their husbands were gone were subjected to a plethora of

warnings and criticisms. J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, charged that the allegedly neglected children of working
mothers were in danger of stumbling into the dreaded maze of delinquency and disease, of reformatory and prison, or, if they are not apprehended, of maiming and plundering. Others worried that mothers would
imperil the well-being of their offspring if the absence of husbands caused
them to dote too heavily on sons and daughters.33
Not all, but most Americans were willing to endure privations and disruptions in family life for the duration of the war, believing this a patriotic
duty. Once the Allies achieved victory, however, Americans became less
tolerant of family separation and domestic hardships. They wanted to reconstitute their families and establish stable homes. Couples who had become engaged or married after brief courtships and then separated during
wartime looked forward to rejoining partners, having babies, and setting
up permanent households. After a decade of economic depression and
several years of war, hard work, and domestic upheaval, people were
eager to purchase houses and modern appliances. The home represented
an ideal for which Americans had fought, abroad and on the home front,
during the war. In 1944, advertisers promised that the impending shift
from war production to the production of consumer goods would bring
comfort and domesticity in the form of refrigerators, washing machines,
hot-water heaters, and vacuum cleaners.34
At the wars end, Americans were impatient to realize an idealized vision of domesticity in which fathers were back home, financially supporting their families while their stay-at-home wives kept comfortable, modern households and raised children.35 The prospect of womens long-term
employment worried Americans. Although millions of women had entered the work force during the war, and many had taken jobs traditionally reserved for men, many Americans considered womens wartime
work a temporary arrangement necessitated by national crisis rather than
a permanent endorsement of womens right to paid employment. Most
women who had held mens jobs in defense industries lost these to men
after the war.36 For many Americans, the establishment of postwar normality required the reassertion of gender roles that positioned men as
breadwinners and women as primarily wives, mothers, and homemakers.
Wives and children separated from husbands and fathers demanded the
speedy return of men after the end of the war. The fighting in Europe had
hardly ended when pressure began to build up for the release of men in
the armed forces, President Truman recalled. With the end of hostilities
in the Pacific, the public demand for the discharge of the millions of men
in the service became insistent.37 In September 1945, an Army wife in20 Going Overseas

formed the Office of Dependency Benefits that she would prefer the homecoming of her husband to her monthly dependents allotment check.
Think of the money you could save, she urged the administrators.38
Other women united to make their demands known. Three hundred service wives in Toledo, Ohio founded a Bring Back My Daddy club, declaring that all cases where fathers have been taken from their homes are
extreme hardship cases no matter how little service they have had. They
should all be sent home to their families. A club representative complained that the government allowances for service families were inadequate because of the high cost of living, voicing the widely held conviction
that families could not thrive without income-earning men in the home.
Group members entreated Congress to return husbands and fathers to
their families and Send the idle single men abroad.39 Women in a
Bring Back Daddy club in Wisconsin sent baby shoes and booties to
senators, including the chairman of the Senate Military Committee, accompanied by requests to Please send my daddy home.40 In response to
a news report about womens demands to return fathers to their families,
Captain R. Hope (probably a fictitious name), stationed in Germany,
wrote a letter to Stars and Stripes claiming that he and his Army colleagues who did not want to be left overseas had created an I Wanta Be a
Daddy Club that welcomed childless husbands, fiancs or the thousands of men who have yet to meet the right girl back home.41

Making the Case for Sending Families Abroad

Military and civilian leaders tried to appease Americans who wanted to
reunite their families. In November 1945, General Dwight Eisenhower
until recently the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, now
the new Army Chief of Staffdeclared that although the military needed
personnel to meet weighty overseas responsibilities and ensure peace, he
advocated demobilization to restore men to their family circles.42 The
Selective Service announced the following month that it would no longer
draft fathers.43 This decision did not, however, bring the instantaneous
discharge of all fathers. Only men with three or more children could apply
for immediate release from the service.
Family members still complained that men were not coming home
quickly enough.44 In January 1946, a group of approximately twenty
women who identified themselves as delegates from the Servicemens
Wives and Childrens Association intercepted General Eisenhower as he
made his way to a Congressional hearing, to ask him for the release of
husbands and fathers from the armed forces. The general invited them
Going Overseas 21

This Life magazine Picture of the Week from February 1946 captured General
Eisenhowers impromptu meeting with military wives. The meeting reportedly
left him emotionally upset. Photo Credit: AP/Wide World Photos.

into the office of the chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee
and spent half an hour listening to their demands for the immediate release of GI fathers, then of childless married men who, the women argued, should be allowed to start the families they have been prevented
from founding. Eisenhower informed the women that the immediate discharge of married men would deplete the manpower of the armed forces
and harm international objectives.45 Shortly after this meeting, Stars and
Stripes reported that the Senate subcommittee investigating demobilization recommended the release of all fathers by July 1, 1946, despite Eisenhowers assertion that the Army realistically could not release more than
500,000 of 700,000 fathers by that date.46
General Eisenhower had been thinking about the problem of family
separation well before the confrontation with service wives in Washington, D.C. On May 12, 1945, a few days after Germanys surrender, he had
told his wife, Mamie, his thoughts on sending American families abroad.
[O]ne thing I hope for is to work out some policy by which families can
come over here, he wrote in a letter to Mamie from his headquarters in
22 Going Overseas

Reims, France. [T]he difficulty will be so to formulate it that the lowest

private has the same right as the highest general. This, I must insist
upon!47 In early June, Eisenhower proposed the following policy to General George Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff who had served as President Roosevelts principal adviser on the war:
Any officer or enlisted man of the first three grades who volunteers for
service of indefinite period in the occupation forces, regardless of his
point total, may apply to the Theater Commander for authority to bring
his wife into the European Theater. Contingent upon a showing that satisfactory accommodations can be provided, and upon compliance with
any rules that may be established by the medical authorities involving
health standards of persons coming to this Theater, free transportation
will be provided for such wives from the port of embarkation in United
States to destination in this Theater. Except in cases of emergency or specific orders of the War Department, no commitments can be made as to
the time that any wife brought into the Theater under this authority can
be returned to the United States.

Eisenhower stated that General Omar Bradley, the commander of the

Twelfth Army Group in Europe, has been the only senior officer I know
who has been an ardent supporter of some such policy, but I am sure
something of this order will eventually have to be done.48 From the turn
of the century to the onset of World War II, the armed forces had provided transportation and other limited assistance to spouses and children
who lived with personnel stationed in foreign countries. Eisenhowers proposal represented a potentially major commitment on the part of the military to support more families abroad than ever before in the history of the
United States.49
General Eisenhowers personal difficulty in coping with family separation helped him to see that it would also pose a hardship for other service
personnel after the war ended. He confessed to Marshall that his own
state of mind and longing for family influenced his position on reuniting
military wives with husbands in Europe. I will admit that the last six
weeks have been my hardest of the war, he wrote, [but] part of my
trouble is that I just plain miss my family. Eisenhower acknowledged
that he and his son John, who served in the First Division in Europe, visited monthly, but it is not the same thing as being able to re-establish,
after three years, something of a home. He also told Marshall that the
separation placed a strain on his wife Mamie, and that I would feel far
more comfortable about her if she could be with me. He closed his message by wondering whether the European Command and the American
Going Overseas 23

public would disapprove if Mamie were allowed to join him, even if the
War Department would not yet approve his proposal to send military
wives abroad. I should like very much to have your frank reaction,
Eisenhower wrote, because while I am perfectly willing to carry on in
this assignment as long as the War Department may decide I should do so,
I really would like to make it a bit easier on myself from the personal
viewpoint.50 A few days later, General Marshall replied that for the time
being, it would not be possible for Eisenhower or anyone else to bring his
spouse to the European Theater. The time has not yet come for such procedure, wrote Marshall, and I am rather dubious about ever restricting
it to a select group if authorized. Marshall was correct in anticipating
that basing the travel of spouses abroad on rank would pose a concern in
later months to policymakers.51 To create some semblance of being with
family, Eisenhower asked his son to join him in Frankfurt rather than
move on to the Pacific theater.52
Though military leaders wished to postpone dealing with the matter of
sending wives abroad until the end of the Pacific war, the issue arose in
other venues. In May 1945, Representative Margaret Chase Smith of
Maine asked Secretary of War Henry Stimson to allow wives and fiances
to join servicemen in Europe on tours of duty lasting a minimum of one
year. In her letter to Stimson, Smith argued that the presence of wives and
fiances in occupied countries would boost servicemens morale and efficiency. Smith asserted that besides aiding military goals, sending spouses
and future wives abroad would arrest the disintegration of American
homes and families and preserve domestic ideals. In radio broadcasts,
Smith offered additional reasons for sending wives and fiances overseas. Since military transports were bringing foreign-born war brides to
the United States, she reasoned, then these same ships should be used to
bring American women to their partners abroad. She suggested that these
women could work for government agencies in occupied areas, serving as
stable and efficient employees. Smith also expressed the fear, shared by
many American women, that servicemens fraternization with German
women would spread Nazi ideas and harm American families. In response to Representative Smiths letter, a War Department official stated
that transportation problems, food and housing shortages, unrest in occupied zones, and the continuation of the Pacific war necessitated a ban on
travel to Europe by civiliansservice wives and fiances included.53
Army Air Force chaplain Clarence Comfort, Jr., like Congresswoman
Smith and many other American women, shared the fear that servicemen
abroad were succumbing to immorality, but believed that a return to family life could rescue them. On August 1, Comfort wrote to Trumans military aide Colonel Harry Vaughan that occupation forces in Europe, from
24 Going Overseas

the rank of Major General to Private, who were suffering from the extreme ravages of loneliness were going absolutely to rot and ruin, implying that they were engaging in sexual liaisons with local women to
lessen their misery. Even Chaplains have not escaped this same downhill
dive, claimed Comfort. The solution, he declared, was to let some of
the enemy starve and die in order to bring to these men the only ones who
can save them, namely, their families.54
A few weeks before the war ended in the Pacific, Navy officers in the
United Kingdom asked whether their families could join them. Vice Admiral R. L. Ghormley, commander of United States Naval Forces in Europe,
inquired about the policy of the armed forces in the European theater regarding the travel of families to the United Kingdom, and proposed that
the wives of Navy officers expecting to serve there for at least another six
months be allowed to join their husbands. European Theater of Operations officials refused Ghormleys request, citing numerous factors to support their policy: that it would be unfair for officers but not enlisted personnel, and for Navy personnel but not Army personnel, to enjoy the
privilege of having family members with them; that military planners anticipated abandoning the United Kingdom base within six months, thus
making it impractical to send family members there for such a short time;
that the area lacked accommodations for American family members; and
finally, that bringing American families to the region would exacerbate the
shortage of food and fuel in the area and harm the British economy.55
Though the families of most eligible personnel would not arrive abroad
until the late spring and early summer of 1946, exceptions were made for
families of military attachs in Latin America, and later in numerous
nonoccupied countries. The Navy justified its policy of allowing spouses
to join attachs on the grounds that wives of naval personnel in diplomatic status could afford valuable assistance in performance of official
duties, continuing the militarys long-standing reliance on the unpaid
work of officers wives, as well as foreshadowing postwar expectations
that family members would aid occupation goals.56
In August, shortly after V-J day, President Truman told military planners that he preferred to focus on bringing soldiers home rather than sending families overseas. He did, however, indicate a willingness to consider
the possibility of eventually allowing the families of military government
personnelwho would be expected to stay abroad for longer periods of
timeto join husbands and fathers.57 Also that summer, service wives
wrote letters to the War Department asking that their families be allowed
to join servicemen abroad. In their letters, they expressed concerns about
raising children without the guidance of fathers, and also about promiscuous German women whom they feared would seduce servicemen.58
Going Overseas 25

Problems of Maintaining Servicemen Abroad

The matter of sending families overseas became intertwined with other
military issues: morale, retention, discipline, and fraternization with local
women. Assertions that the presence of families could help to deal with
difficulties caused by rapid demobilization, low morale, poor discipline,
and liaisons with local women bolstered arguments for sending families
abroad. Such arguments also would have resonated for Americans who
believed that stable family life would help cure the ills dislocation,
low spirits, crime, and the disruption of overseas communitiescaused
by war.
In the fall and winter of 19451946, military personnel stationed in
foreign countries complained of low morale and clamored to go home. In
October, GIs in Tokyo demanded improvements in their unsanitary
quarters and unpalatable food. The mother of a private stationed in
Japan blamed her sons criminal actsthe murder of two Japaneseon
the emotional strain of delayed homecoming.59 Cornelius DeForest, a
former Army colonel who joined the U.S. military government in Germany in March 1945, told his wife in December of that year that Our
big trouble here is that everyone wants to go home. The morale is not
good. In a subsequent letter he complained that [the] trouble is Redeployment. All the good personnel [are] going home. Second raters left
and they just think of going home. Dont care a heck.60 In early 1946,
servicemen and servicewomen around the world in the Philippines,
China, England, France, Germany, Hawaii, and Californiaprotested the
decision to slow down the discharge of personnel deemed necessary for
overseas duties.61
Pressure from families, Congress, and the troops themselves contributed to the rapid demobilization of millions of military personnel in the
year following the war. President Truman agonized over the dangerous
speed at which personnel were released.62 Between June 1945 and June
1946, the number of servicemen and servicewomen shrank from approximately twelve million to just over three million. Enlisted personnel were
released more quickly than officers.63 By June 30, 1947, the number of active duty personnel totaled about 1.583 million.64
Postwar planners attempted to reconcile the need for personnel with
demands to discharge servicemen and servicewomen.65 Military leaders
identified the improvement of morale as a means to recruit and retain personnel for overseas duty, believing that this would help military operations run smoothly and encourage the reenlistment of well-trained and
competent personnel. Good morale reflected the general well-being of
armed forces members and helped to ensure that they performed their du26 Going Overseas

ties effectively and remained well-disciplined. The armed forces attempted

to bolster morale by offering recreation, entertainment, education, and
welfare servicesincluding access to snack bars, post exchanges, barber
shops, automobiles, medical care, and religious servicesto all ranks.66
Military accounts linked low morale to poor discipline and criminal
behavior. According to an Army report, crimes committed by servicemen
in Europe increased immediately after the war because of the flux created
by shifting forces from liberated to occupied zones, restrictions on leave
for servicemen stationed in occupied regions, and the rapid rate of demobilization. As the occupation progressed, Germans also became more willing to report Americans misconduct. Servicemens criminal behavior included rampant involvement in the black market, reckless driving, drunkenness, looting, pilferage, illegal hunting, robbery, rape, and homicide.
Enlisted personnel and officers alike participated in black marketeering,
which centered on the trade in coffee, cigarettes, chocolate, and even artwork and military vehicles.67 During the first six months of occupation in
Germany, 7,800 motor vehicle accidents occurred, almost all involving
American service personnel. The incident rate of serious crimes in Germany nearly tripled between August 1945 and January 1946. Major General Franklin Davis later attributed crimes committed by servicemen to
cultural shock and the abnormalities of the occupation atmosphere,
coupled with the decline in discipline arising out of the wholesale deployment of the combat army and the multidimensional temptations facing
the average American soldier on occupation duty.68
Some servicemen committed violent crimes against local people. The
Army noted a rise in crimes against persons in Europe between January
1946 and June 1947. Between May 1945 and June 1947, the Army recorded nearly 1,000 rapes by American servicemen in Europe.69 Beginning with the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945 and continuing into
the occupation, American soldiers attacked Okinawan civilians and sexually assaulted girls and women. In response, the U.S. commanding general
announced in May 1945 that rapists would be subjected to the death
penalty.70 After the war, servicemens violent and criminal behavior exacerbated tensions between Okinawans and occupation forces. Okinawa
gained a reputation as a base where the bad behavior of servicemen
blighted the image of the American military. In 1949, Life depicted the
military presence in Okinawa as a shameful mess that, despite its top
value in the strategy of Pacific defense, represented no credit to America. The article reported the ugly fact that in the six months ending last
September [1949] U.S. soldiers had murdered 29 Okinawans, raped 18,
[and] robbed or assaulted 49.71 In his account of the early years of the
armed forces in Okinawa, Army officer Morton Morris described the
Going Overseas 27

attack of an Itoman girl snatched into the back of a moving truck, criminally assaulted by twenty soldiers, and cast out without the trucks ever
stopping. Undoubtedly, more sexual assaults occurred than were reported.72
Fraternization between American servicemen and local women created
another source of friction in occupied communities.73 Military intelligence
reports from 1945 described Germans angry responses to liaisons between German women and American servicemen. One report told of
open letters directed at the fraternizing frauleins and their misconduct.74 In some cases, Germans cut off the hair of girls who associated
with American men.75 Another military report reprinted a condemnatory
poem (translated from German to English for the report) inscribed on
four posters that appeared in the town of Muehldorf one Sunday morning
in November 1945. The anonymous author(s) of the poem included a list
of the names of German girls allegedly in relationships with American
soldiers. The poem denounced the girls as whores in love with the
murderers of the German youth.76
The concentration of American servicemen in occupied lands attracted
girls and women who worked as prostitutes. In Germany, Some women
resorted to prostitution to save themselves and their families from starvation, writes historian Petra Goedde. For others it became an additional
source of income.77 An Army report attributed part of the blame for
American servicemens relations with European prostitutes to the mens
drinking, promiscuity, immaturity, and boundless faith . . . in the curative powers of penicillin. The account also listed hunger, economic hardship, and Nazism (to which German womens alleged moral laxity was
attributed) as causes of prostitution and high rates of venereal disease.78
In Japan, a young prostitute interviewed on a radio broadcast said that
Of course its bad to be a hooker. But without relatives or jobs due to the
war disaster, how are we supposed to live? Soon after their nations surrender, Japanese government officials and police worked with entrepreneurs to arrange for Japanese women to sexually service occupation
forces in comfort facilities, beseeching them to give their bodies for
the country. Several months later, occupation officials outlawed prostitution, but not before many prostitutes and their clients contracted venereal infections.79 In Okinawa, brothels, bars, and nightclubs transformed
one town into what Morton Morris termed a neon-lit nirvana for Neanderthals. Morris described how Okinawans visiting a shrine in the midst
of this district were forced to pick their way through all kinds of American night clubs and whorehouses.80 Venereal disease rates soared among
troops in Okinawa, Japan and Germany.81
Sexual relations between servicemen and local women resulted in tens
28 Going Overseas

of thousands (possibly more) of children. According to one estimate,

American servicemen left twenty to thirty thousand children in Germany
as of 1953; others speculated that servicemen fathered 94,000 babies during the occupation.82 In European and Asian countries, many mixed-race
children fathered by American servicemen were ostracized or abandoned.
Miki Sawada, a Japanese woman born to an affluent family, was deeply
affected by stories of findings of dead mixed-race babies fathered by servicemen, born to Japanese girls and women. After discovering a dead
baby on a train, Sawada decided to use one of her fathers estates as a
home for abandoned or relinquished mixed-race children who would otherwise have been shunned.83 In a 1951 Ebony article, Sawada estimated
that 2,000 GI babies born to unwed mothers lived in Japan, and
thought that a comparable number of infants had been murdered at birth.
The article reported that many grandparents of mixed-race children
moved to a different city to avoid disgrace.84

Going Abroad
The need to improve low morale and solve the many other problems associated with stationing hundreds of thousands of service personnel abroad
coincided with demands for the reunion of families. An Army account
cited the reestablishment of normal family life, said to constitute an
essential long-term morale measure, as the primary motivation for sending families overseas. General Lucius Clay, the deputy military governor
and then military governor of the American zone in Germany, believed
that whether or not families could come to Germany would influence the
recruitment and work performance of occupation personnel, stating that
Military Government would not obtain qualified personnel willing to
spend several years in Germany if it meant separation from their families.85 Officials also hoped that normal family ties would reduce fraternization in Germany, and alter contacts so that German-American interactions were not primarily between servicemen and German women.86 In
addition, it was expected that men whose families were present would be
more likely to stay out of trouble. Assessments of the occupation in Germany correlated the decline in servicemens criminal behavior with the arrival of families.87 Moreover, military planners assumed that the project of
reuniting families in foreign lands would reduce complaints from the
home front about family separation.88
Beginning in the fall of 1945, military planners discussed preliminary
preparations for transporting, receiving, and accommodating families
overseas. The European theaters Special Occupational Planning Board,
Going Overseas 29

formed in September to devise general plans for housing and various services, anticipated that the theater could begin to receive American families
in April 1946.89 Shortages of food, fuel, and housing made it impossible for families to go to Europe earlier.90 Families were authorized transportation to Pacific commands as of May 1.91
On February 1, 1946, Stars and Stripes reported the War Departments
January 31 announcement that, depending on the availability of housing,
subsistence, and medical services, families may soon join soldiers in all
overseas theaters.92 Shortly thereafter, service members received instructions for making arrangements for their families to join them abroad. Personnel were to initiate the process by submitting applications to station
commanders. The War Department based priority for the shipment of
families on service members willingness to remain at an overseas station
for at least one year, and on cumulative overseas duty since December
1941. Except in emergencies, family members were to remain overseas
with their service husbands or fathers (termed sponsors) until the sponsor received orders to leave the command. Initially, rank was not supposed to determine transportation priority. In later years, however, the
government did not provide transportation and housing for families of
enlisted men in the lowest grades (those who ranked below noncommissioned officers), reportedly out of concern that these personnel were unable to financially support their spouses and children abroad.93
The impending arrival of American families triggered extensive preparations at foreign bases. Occupation authorities requisitioned houses and
apartments from citizens of Germany and Japan. Where funding and
materials were available, the military constructed quarters for families.
In nonoccupied areas, such as France, severe shortages of housing and
construction resources prevented the entry of many families for several
months.94 A February 1946 article from U.S. News and World Report
warned families en route to overseas bases that housing will be poor
and largely improvised.95 Many of the residences requisitioned in occupied countries, however, were more spacious and elaborate than anything
some families had ever known. Designers of overseas communities made
plans for commissaries, post exchanges, recreational facilities, post offices, barber shops, beauty salons, soda fountains, auto repair shops, and
venues for religious ceremonies. They ordered refrigerators, toasters, and
baby food to help American families recreate home life in a foreign country.96 Overseas commands also helped to arrange for the schooling of children, although the War Department refused to fund this during the 1946
1947 academic year, and so parents paid for tuition and supplies.97
Upon receiving authorization to join service personnel abroad, wives
and children made their own preparations. Family members applied for
30 Going Overseas

passports and received inoculations, depending on the destination, against

diseases such as smallpox, typhoid, typhus, cholera, and tetanus. They
made arrangements for packing, crating, and shipping the household
goods they wanted to take overseas, and for storing the rest at Army installations. Some families received authorization to ship their automobiles
on military transports. With the approval of overseas commanders, families could send their pets to their destinations (excluding Japan), though
they could not bring the animals on board ship with them.98
The journey began when families received notification to report to a
port of embarkationNew York or New Orleans for those en route to
destinations across the Atlantic, San Francisco or Seattle for those traveling across the Pacific. In the 1940s, nearly all families traveled by ship; air
travel would not become common until the 1950s. Spouses and children
made their way to ports via automobile, bus, train, or airplane. The War
Department absorbed most transportation expenses for families authorized to join service personnel abroad. After arriving at port, families
might wait for days or even weeks before their ship departed.99
The U.S. military in the Pacific was concerned to ease the fears of family members traveling to Japan. In an account prepared for the Public Information Section of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers,
Bernadine Lee described the process of getting herself and her three children from Texas to Japan in September 1946, to join her husband, Captain Cecil Lee, stationed in Japan since December 1945. After the children
had received the necessary inoculations from Army doctors, the Lees traveled via bus from Galveston to Seattle, the port of embarkation for military families en route to Japan. After three days in Seattle, the Lees and
more than 800 other Army wives and children boarded a shipdescribed
by Bernadine Lee as a luxury linerfor the nine-day voyage to Yokohama. The service families endured cold weather, rough seas, and crowding, but according to Bernadine Lee, the accommodations were good,
the food excellent.100
Another service wife recalled a journey to Japan far less pleasant than
that described by Bernadine Lee. In 1949, Mary Jane Vann, the wife of
Army infantry officer John Paul Vann, and her two children spent three
weeks in a barracks with the wives and children of enlisted men at the
Seattle port of embarkation. During the wait to board ship, a measles epidemic afflicted many of the children. At sea, the Vannsthe only officers
family on board shared a compartment with several other families.
Mary Jane Vanns son John Allen suffered from fever and diarrhea on the
trip; someone elses child lost a finger smashed by the steel door of the
communal toilet. Cornelius DeForest also related an account he had heard
about the unpleasant ocean voyage endured by a colleagues family that
Going Overseas 31

came to Germany in 1946: 43 women and children crowded on one deck

with no port holes. Rather small boat. The boat lost an impeller, and
floated around 3 days while repairs were being made . . . quite a bit of sea
Fanfare greeted the families as their ships came into port. The first families to arrive in Europe docked at Bremerhaven, Germany on April 16.
Because of inadequate and crowded facilities at Bremerhaven, service personnel were not allowed to meet their families there. Instead, they waited
as spouses and children made the next leg of the journey via train to Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt, and other destinations in Europe.102 Twenty-two
Navy and Marine Corps families, the first service families to arrive in occupied Japan, cruised into harbor on the USS Carroll on June 21. A few
days later, the Ainsworth brought another 180 families to Japan, airplanes
soaring above the ship as it neared the Yokohama harbor. Leis, music, and
servicemen welcomed the women and children. Unlike in Europe, service
personnel in Japan were allowed to meet their families at the dock. Some
families had been separated for more than a year. On the jeep ride from
the harbor to their new home in Tokyo, Bernadine Lee and her children
gazed upon Japanese women in kimonos who carried babies on their
backs, while the Japanese gazed back at the American family.103

Early in the occupation, there was no question that American families
would receive accommodations superior to those of their vanquished
foes. Most American families in Germany were assigned to private houses
or apartments requisitioned from Germans. Still, the Americans coped
with a dearth of furniture and refrigerators as well as heating and power
deficiencies during that first year. Before the large-scale construction of
the 1950s, an American military community often consisted of small
groups of buildingsliving quarters, schools, churches, and various service facilitiesscattered throughout a city, off-limits to unauthorized Germans. Yet restricted access to American communities did not mean that
service families never encountered non-Americans. Most families hired at
least one domestic worker from the local population; many Americans
employed Germans and displaced persons (many of them Eastern Europeans who had been prisoners of and forced laborers for the Nazis) as
maids, cooks, nannies, and gardeners. 104
Military wives described housing in mainland Japan during the early
postwar years as attractive and comfortable, though not without some
drawbacks. In the article published to allay the fears of military families,
32 Going Overseas

Bernadine Lee portrayed the living situation and the Japanese people as
welcoming. According to Lee, four servants cheerfully greeted her family
upon arrival. Lee credited them, and the friendly neighbors, for melting
her fears that the Japanese would be hostile to the American occupiers.
The Lees lived in a western-style, two-story house equipped with modern
appliances, surrounded by gracious old trees [and] a yard friendly in
shrubs and flowers. Lee stated that her family enjoyed such a house because of her husbands twenty-five years in the service, and because of the
needs of a three-child family. Ours is not the finest home in Tokyo, she
wrote, nor is it the most modest. Other Americans resided in villas,
Quonset huts, or apartments. The Vann family, like the Lees, lived in a
spacious and attractive house. Mary Jane Vann appreciated the welltended landscape and the flower arrangements created by their congenial
domestic employees. But to her dismay, infestations of cockroaches, centipedes, and rats offset the houses good points. Despite the efforts of
Army exterminators, the rats endured. In 1950, the Vanns moved out of
the house after an accidental fire set by a maid, into a pretentious residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright before the war for an affluent Japanese family.105
World-famous architectural design, spacious rooms, and pleasant landscapes certainly did not characterize most military housing. Many families
in Okinawa resided in poorly constructed and unattractive housing into
the late 1940s. Homes consisted of Quonset huts and flimsy structures
that did not withstand typhoon weather well. A December 1949 U.S.
News & World Report article described military family quarters impaired
by leaky roofs, broken windows, defective plumbing, and poor ventilation, and reported that one sergeants family continued living in a Quonset hut that had been condemned as unfit for occupancy four months earlier. That same month, Life declared that The U.S. military men and their
dependents live in this depressing place with few amusements and a lot of
homesickness. A photograph that accompanied the article featured a
major, his wife, two daughters, and a pet dog standing before their typhoonized Quonset hut. The strange structure that resembled a halfcylinder enclosed in aluminum siding, with boarded windows, situated on
a lot with no lawn or garden, probably would have struck most Americans as an unsuitable dwelling for a family.106
Over the next decade, families altered the military landscape by adding a domestic dimension to U.S. overseas bases. They brought with them
characteristics of American life otherwise absent in military environments, where large numbers of service personnel, mostly men, lived and
worked. Servicemen without their families roomed in barracks, if they
were enlisted men, or quarters for bachelor officers. They ate in mess
Going Overseas 33

The Shelley family in front of their typhoonized quonset hut. Notice the Okinawans in the background on the right. Photo credit: Carl Mydans/Stinger/Time
& Life Pictures/Getty Images.

halls, cafeterias, snack bars, or clubs. In contrast, families lived in houses

or apartments either in complexes on military bases, or on the economy, that is, in residences outside military bases. The facilities built for
personnel and familieshouses, schools, playgrounds, commissaries, gas
stations, churches, clubs, skating rinks, beauty parlors gave military
communities a suburban American air. On-base developments that housed
hundreds of American families came to be known as Little Americas,
whose occupants drew criticism from civilian as well as military Americans for allegedly not venturing out of their self-contained communities to
interact with residents of occupied and host nations.107
Into the 1950s and after, the type and quality of family housing varied
by location. During the occupations, the armed forces constructed extensive housing projects in Germany and Japan, where the biggest populations of military families were located. In the town of Kastel, for example,
the Air Force converted former German military barracks into apartments
for American families. In Japan, rehabilitated office buildings and hotels
served as family quarters. The eventual return of requisitioned residences
to owners entailed new construction of houses and apartments in Germany and Japan. To cope with housing shortages in some areas (such as
Germany), military commands imposed a policy that limited concurrent
sponsor-dependent travel which meant that personnel arrived in assigned
34 Going Overseas

Drawing of a military base in Welcome to Itazuke: First Far East Home of the
F100s pamphlet, pp. 16 & 17. Source: Itazuke Air Base. Office of Information
Services. Fukuoka, Japan: Kaneko Printing Co., n.d. (circa 1957).
Going Overseas 35

stations well ahead of their families.108 In the Philippines in the 1950s,

families made homes in Quonset huts, prefabricated wooden houses, and
concrete structures. In France, military housing consisted of ranch-style
houses, apartments, and trailers, but their limited availability required
most families to seek housing in French communities. In England, like
France, most families lived off base. The American military population in
Spain was small and no base housing existed, so all families lived in Spanish neighborhoods, although a commissary and school for military children were available in Madrid.109
As increasing numbers of families joined service personnel overseas
during the 1950s, the supply of housing did not match the demand. By
1950, an estimated 90,000 military family members lived overseas,
mainly in West Germany and Japan; by 1960, this number would climb to
over 462,000.110 Even after substantial funding increases for construction
at overseas bases, so many families joined service personnel abroad that
many of those not assigned government housing lived in residences off
base or were forced to wait twelve to eighteen months for military accommodations, especially in Japan and Germany.111 A 1964 informational
book for naval officers wives warned readers that No matter what you
may hear as to the joys of the tropics or the charm of the Old World, the
standard of living in some places outside the United States is not always
the same as that within the continental limits, and many things that we
consider prime necessities may be scarce or not available at all, either in
military housing or off base.112 Thus, for many military families, the post
World War II ideal of family life would prove challenging to realize
abroad many years after the wars end.

The cessation of war did not free the United States from international responsibilities. Although the armed forces released millions of service personnel in the year following the wars end, U.S. policymakers considered it
crucial not only for the overseas occupations but also for global stability
and rebuilding to maintain a large international military presence. Even
President Truman and the highest-ranking military officials did not know
how long the occupations would last or how many U.S. forces would need
to remain abroad. Yet after nearly four years of war, most American military personnel who found themselves in foreign lands wanted to go home
to find jobs, further their educations, and return to or take up family life.
On the home front, demands for reuniting families became insistent, and
the desire to achieve the cultural ideal of the family loomed larger than the
36 Going Overseas

problems abroad that seemed so far away to many Americans. The low
morale and discipline problems of personnel who remained overseas or
were sent after the wars end were undermining the foreign relations goals
of aiding allied nations and reconstructing enemy nations at a time when
the United States was taking on greater international responsibility in
peacetime than ever before. Unwilling to send all the officers and troops
home, the U.S. government instead sought to bring some part of home
to servicemen stationed abroad. Sending military families overseas to bolster mens morale and retain and recruit capable personnel helped make it
possible for the United States to meet its expanded postwar international

Going Overseas 37

Unofficial Ambassadors

American families arriving in Germany and Japan in 1946

learned that the armed forces considered them part of the occupation
mission. An Army representative informed women and teenagers in the
American zone of Germany that You are also serving your country while
here.1 Like official personnel serving abroad, wives and children received
orientation and guidance about living overseas and coming face to face
with Germans and Japanese. A pamphlet for families in Kyoto, Japan, informed readers that As a part of an army in the field dependents of U.S.
personnel are subject to the regulations which [pertain to] all Armed
Forces personnel in this theater. Because of your unique position as members of an occupation force in Japan, it is necessary that you set for yourselves the highest standards of personal behavior.2 In Germany, spouses
and children fourteen and older were to attend a four-hour orientation
program in which the Army facilitator told them that
every American man, woman, and child in the European Theater has the
power to do either good or harm to our foreign relations, depending on
his contacts with the Europeans. A thoughtless, careless, selfish, or insolent attitude can make an enemy of a former friend or a future friend. A
sympathetic and helpful manner may bring the opposite result. Let each
one take the responsibility for doing what he can to improve the foreign
relations of his country.3

Both the guide for families in Japan and the orientation for spouses and
children in Germany assumed that American families should help to advance the missions of the armed forces in those countries. In referring to
spouses and children as part of an army in the field and members of
an occupation force, the Kyoto pamphlet reveals that authorities of the
armed forces considered the families of personnel not as external to the
military, but integral to it. The orientation program attests to the assumption of occupation authorities that the attitudes and actions of American
family members, in their encounters with Europeans, could help or hinder

relations with residents of European countries, and by extension, foreign

This chapter analyzes the emergence of the view that military families
abroad should play a part in foreign relations during the postWorld War
II and early Cold War eras. After World War II, many Americans believed
more strongly than ever that the protection of their interests required
greater involvement and leadership of the United States in world affairs.
Many American leaders, and much of the general public, supported cooperation with other nations in dealing with the devastation, hunger, and
turbulence wrought by the war, and increasingly, in opposing communism, which they feared would take over nations and harm U.S. security
and economic interests. The military encouraged personnel stationed
abroad to promote international cooperation by showing generosity and
establishing friendly relations with the peoples of occupied and host nations. These overtures occurred in the broader context of the American
publics growing awareness of the United States expanded postwar global
involvement. American popular culture examined U.S. servicemens connections with peoples of other countries, and explored the significance of
these relationships as well as the most effective ways for the United States
to influence non-Americans.
In the meantime, an important transformation in the military was underway: families were becoming a greater presence in the armed forces.
More personnel were married than had been the case before World War
II. Whereas before the war the armed forces had tended to view families
as more burdensome than useful, after the war the Army, Navy, and Air
Force increasingly regarded families as important components of the military. Military planners hoped that the presence of American families overseas would do more than improve morale and discipline among personnel
and alleviate family separation. The arrival of thousands of families
abroad was part of the U.S. commitment to greater international involvement that had begun before the nation entered World War II. International cooperation with allies and victory over communism were believed
to require not only a tough military approach, but also understanding and
friendship which familiesespecially wiveswere to represent abroad.
Between the 1940s and the 1960s, families reshaped fundamental conceptions of the militarys disposition and purpose. Alongside the dominant
perception of the armed forces as a body of personnel, mostly male,
trained in warfare, arose another conceptualization of the military as an
organization composed of families who anchored these personnel and
represented their nation to the rest of the world. The armed forces initially expected family members to assist in promoting occupation goals in
Germany and Japan. As burgeoning numbers of family members joined
Unofficial Ambassadors 39

servicemen overseas in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, and as
the Cold War developed, official prescriptive literature encouraged wives
and children to act as unofficial ambassadors in their everyday activities among local people in foreign countries. American families abroad
embodied a nonmilitaristic dimension of American life and could help foster good relations with residents of foreign countries.

Postwar International Involvement

During the 1940s, Americans became more supportive than they had been
during the Great Depression of greater U.S. involvement in affairs outside
of the Americas, especially in Europe and Asia. Although the United
States had been connected economically and culturally to the wider world
since its creation, most Americans usually had opposed involvement in
other nations political and military conflicts unless they perceived specific
U.S. interests to be directly at stake, and U.S. foreign policy tended to reflect this. In late September 1939, just weeks after the German invasion of
Poland, a Gallup poll found that ninety-five percent of Americans answered No to the question Should we [Americans] declare war and
send our army and navy abroad to fight Germany? Another Gallup poll
conducted in October 1939 reported that sixty-eight percent of respondents believed that it had been a mistake for the United States to enter the
world war in 1917. In the early summer of 1941, less than six months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor finally pushed the United
States to officially enter the war, only twenty-one percent of Americans
declared that they would support joining the Allies to oppose Germany
and Italy.4 Between 1939 and 1941, however, German invasions of European nations and attacks on Great Britain and ships in the Atlantic generated growing American support for U.S. aid to the Allies.
By the wars end, most Americans were no longer as inclined as they
were during the previous decade to turn their backs on international
problems. In October 1945, seventy-one percent of people polled by Gallup stated that the United States should take an active part in world affairs, whereas only nineteen percent preferred staying out of them. A majority of Americans also expressed willingness to aid European nations
still struggling in the wars aftermath. In February 1946, sixty-seven percent of Gallup poll respondents answered in the affirmative to the question Would you eat less meat and use less flour in order to send more
food to the people of Europe? A poll released in April 1946 reported
that fifty-nine percent of those questioned would be willing to go back to
food rationing in order to send food to people in other nations.5 While
40 Unofficial Ambassadors

some Americans and politicians held fast to isolationism, this was not the
prevailing spirit.
In the postwar world, the increased willingness of Americans to work
with other nations to resolve conflicts and deal with humanitarian problems reflected a renewed commitment to internationalism. Daniela Rossini defines American internationalism as a doctrine and a policy which
stresses the global character of the United States welfare and security and
therefore tends to accept the involvement of the country in the solution of
international disputes and problems. In other words, in the internationalist approach foreign duties and responsibilities are unavoidable.6 After
World War I, the United States did not join the League of Nations proposed by President Woodrow Wilson. In 1945, the entry of the United
States into the United Nations along with forty-nine other countries signified a newfound willingness to form alliances with other nations to solve
various problems. The preamble to the charter of the United Nations declared that member nations would practice tolerance and live together
in peace with one another as good neighbors, unite our strength to
maintain international peace and security, and employ international
machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of
all peoples.7
In addition to joining the United Nations, U.S. aid to nations devastated by warincluding former enemiesdemonstrated acceptance of
foreign duties and responsibilities in the postwar world. Despite the recent enmity between the Allies and Germany, the United States provided
food for starving people there. American occupation military governor
General Lucius DuBignon Clay wrote that dealing with the problem of
hunger had taken top priority between 1945 and 1948, because it was
necessary to meet peoples basic needs in order to successfully reeducate
the Germans and rebuild their country. For three years the problem of
food was to color every administrative action, and to keep the German
people alive and able to work was our main concern, wrote General
Clay. From the first I begged and argued for food because I did not believe that the American people wanted starvation and misery to accompany occupation, and I was certain that we could not arouse political interest for a democratic government in a hungry, apathetic population.8
The United States also shipped food to alleviate hunger in Japan throughout the occupation and supplied approximately $2 billion in economic assistance.9 The Marshall Plan provided even more aid to Western Europe.
In his address at the Harvard commencement in June 1947, Secretary of
State and former Army general George Marshall articulated his vision of
how the United States, via the European Recovery Program (the official
name of the Marshall Plan), should do whatever it is able to do to assist
Unofficial Ambassadors 41

in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there
can be no political stability, and no assured peace.10 Supporters of the
plan expected that it would stimulate economic recovery in Europe as well
as prosperity in the United States. Marshall traveled the country to muster
support for the program, telling reporters that he considered it an offer of
peace and comfort to peoples in need.11

The Development of the Cold War

As the Cold War developed in the latter half of the 1940s, American international involvement increasingly encompassed the containment of
communism abroad. Americans wariness of communism stretched back
to the nineteenth century. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 inspirited
American radicals, but also provoked fear in anti-radicals of domestic
communist subversion as well as global communist revolution.12 Post
World War II anxiety about the spread of communism reinforced the conviction of Americans and their government leaders that the United States
should be involved politically, militarily, and economically in world affairs
in order to protect U.S. foreign interests as well as the American way of
life at home. During World War II, the Soviet Union had proved a crucial
ally in the fight against the Axis powers. The expansion of Soviet control of Eastern Europe, howeverwhat former Prime Minister Winston
Churchill would in 1946 describe as the descent of the iron curtain
stirred fears that the enlargement of Soviet power endangered Western
As the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union
grew more adversarial, the Truman administration developed a policy of
containment that would dominate U.S. foreign relations for over four
decades. The portrayal of Soviet ambitions by State Department foreign
service officer George Kennan, an expert on the USSR, strongly influenced containment policy. In February 1946, Kennan warned Washington policymakers of what he perceived as the dangerous determination of
Soviet leaders to shore up the USSRs government and security by exploiting those in a desperate and war torn outside world to expand its
power to other nations. To counter Soviet expansionism, telegraphed
we [the U.S. government] must formulate and put forward for other nations a much more positive and constructive picture of sort of world we
would like to see than we have put forward in past. It is not enough to
urge people to develop political processes similar to our own. Many for42 Unofficial Ambassadors

eign peoples, in Europe at least, are tired and frightened by experiences

of past, and are less interested in abstract freedom than in security. They
are seeking guidance rather than responsibilities. We should be better
able than Russians to give them this. And unless we do, Russians certainly will.13

By March 1946, the Truman administration regarded the Soviet Union

as a potentially hostile power whose totalitarianism and perceived program of unlimited expansion clashed with the American desire for the
global spread of liberal democracy and liberal capitalism and demanded a
firm U.S. response.14
This response would take the form of containing Soviet power, or perceived Soviet influence, through economic and military assistance to other
nations, international political alliances, and the build-up and mobilization of the armed forces. In March 1947, President Truman asked Congress for aid to Greece, where communist governments in the region
(though not the Soviet Union to any significant extent) aided communist
rebels, and Turkey, where the Soviets wanted shared control of the Dardanelles, the strait connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.15 The
presidents appeal became known as the Truman Doctrine, which declared
U.S. intent to provide economic and military assistance to nations fighting
internal or external communism. Trumans speech also excited the American publics concern about the threat allegedly posed by the Soviet Union.
Congressional representatives granted Trumans request, approving $400
million in aid. The Marshall Plan proposed a few months later also won
support in Congress from those who considered it a means to alleviate
economic hardship, restore capitalism, and prevent people from turning
to communist parties to solve their problems in economically and politically fragile Western Europe.16
In addition to providing economic aid to Western Europe as protection
against the rise of communism there, the United States made a historic departure in its foreign policy by joining eleven other nations in a pledge of
joint defense against potential communist attacks by signing the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) pact in April 1949. In declaring the
intent to safeguard the freedom, common heritage, and civilization of
their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty,
and the rule of law, the original members of the treaty grounded their alliance in their nations shared political valuesspecifically, democracy
and individual freedomin implicit contrast to the USSRs totalitarianism. The signers also advocated economic ties in agreeing to seek to
eliminate conflict in their economic policies and . . . encourage economic
collaboration between any or all. NATO thus represented a political,
Unofficial Ambassadors 43

military, and economic alliance among the United States and its North Atlantic allies against the Soviet Union.17
While tensions rose between noncommunist Western nations and the
Soviet Union, events in Asia fueled American fears of communist expansion there. After several years of fighting, Mao Zedongs troops defeated
Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-sheks forces in 1949 and established a
communist government in China. Congressional Republicans blamed the
Truman administration for failing to prevent the so-called fall of China.18
In early 1950, the world learned of an alliance between Mao and Soviet
premier Joseph Stalin, a pact that reinforced American anxiety about the
possibility of a global red conquest.19
The Korean War, which broke out a few months later, confirmed in
many American minds that the Soviets and their allies were determined to
further communist domination. In 1948, Korea had split into a Sovietbacked communist government in the north and a U.S.-supported anticommunist government in the south. When North Korean armies invaded
South Korea in June 1950, Americans assumed that Stalin had ordered
the invasion, although it is now known that Stalins support of North Korean leader Kim Il-sungs reunification attempt was more cautious. U.S.led United Nations forces intervened initially to repel the offensive and
then continued fighting northward to liberate North Korea from communism until an influx of Chinese forces joined the North Koreans to drive
back the invaders. Despite the wars heavy casualties, the 1953 armistice
maintained essentially the same geographical division between North
Korea and South Korea that had existed at the start of the hostilities in
1950. Although communist North Korea survived, the United States with
the United Nations had succeeded in containing the attempted expansion
of communism into South Korea. But fear that communism would not
only overrun other countries but also take root at home fed into an antiCommunist frenzy in the United States.20

Although the Korean War helped to justify the immense military build-up
of the early 1950s, the remilitarization of the United States had already
commenced. In April 1948, Congress reinstated the draft (which had expired in 1947) and President Truman, at the urging of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, requested a $3 billion supplement to the defense bill for the augmentation of ground forces and aircraft. The 1949 budget for the Air
Force, at double the amount of the 1948 budget, initiated an aircraft industry war boom that would continue for several decades.21
44 Unofficial Ambassadors

The Soviet Unions explosion of its first atomic bomb in the summer of
1949 heightened military competition between the superpowers. Shortly
after learning of the Soviets atomic test, President Truman approved development of the even more powerful hydrogen bomb. In early 1950, at
the request of the president, National Security Council officials assessed
U.S. defense and foreign policies in a report known as NSC-68. The authors of NSC-68 warned that the Soviet Union is animated by a new
fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute
authority over the rest of the world. The NSC advisers asserted that a
substantial and rapid building up of strength in the free world is necessary
to support a firm policy intended to check and roll back the Kremlins
drive for world domination. The council recommended that no cost be
spared in the defense of the United States: Budgetary considerations will
need to be subordinated to the stark fact that our very independence as a
nation may be at stake.22 In the words of historian Daniel Yergin, NSC68 expressed the fully formed Cold War World [mindset] of American
leaders, and provided the rationalization not only for the hydrogen bomb
but also for a much expanded military establishment. The Korean War
also prompted huge funding increases for national security. Over the
course of the war, expenditures for the conflict and for the broader development of military strength more than doubled from $22.3 billion in fiscal year 1951 to $50.4 billion in fiscal year 1953.23
The military build-up vastly increased the number of active duty service personnel between 1950 and 1960. In 1939, there were a total of
334,473 active duty personnel in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. At
the end of World War II, military personnel numbered a historic high of
over twelve million. The demobilization that followed the war brought
this number down to just over three million in 1946, and then down to
approximately 1.5 million personnel in 1947. In 1950, the first year of the
Korean War, about 1.46 million men and women served in the military.
By 1953, the last year of the Korean War, this number had grown to over
three and a half million. In 1960, the number of armed forces personnel
stood at almost 2.5 million, an increase of nearly sixty percent since
It was in this context of internationalism, anti-communism, remilitarization, and war that U.S. overseas bases attained a new significance after
World War II. The United States had established bases in the Pacific and
Caribbean in the late nineteenth century, largely as a consequence of the
Spanish-American War in 1898. Until the 1940s, however, U.S. overseas
bases were few in comparison to the foreign bases held by Great Britain,
France, Japan, and even several smaller nations such as Denmark, the
Netherlands, and Italy. The number of American bases overseas expanded
Unofficial Ambassadors 45

rapidly during World War II. Between 1941 even before the United
States officially entered the warand 1945, American military bases proliferated around the globe. By the end of the war, the more than 2,000
U.S. overseas bases exceeded the number of foreign bases established by
any other power in history. Although military demobilization resulted in
the closure of hundreds of bases between 1945 and 1949, the advent of
containment policy reversed this decline. The vast majority of bases were
in Europe and the Pacific because the United States deemed these areas the
most crucial for containment, whereas Latin America, Africa, the Middle
East, and South Asia were considered less significant in terms of anti-communist military strategy. There were 258 U.S. bases in Europe in 1949,
446 bases in 1953, 566 bases in 1957, and 673 bases in 1967. West Germany housed the most bases: ninety-nine in 1947, increasing to 278 by
1967. In the Pacific, there were 235 bases in 1949, 291 bases in 1953, 256
bases in 1957, and 271 bases in 1967. The number of bases abroad decreased after the Korean War, but increased in the 1960s because of the
Vietnam War.25 Armed forces personnel stationed at overseas bases more
than doubled between 1950 and 1960, from 301,595 to 610,174.26

U.S. Military Personnel in Occupied Nations

Because the growing U.S. military presence abroad increased the likelihood of encounters between American armed forces personnel and the
residents of occupied and host nations, military leaders expected servicemen and servicewomen to earn the respect of local peoples and help further their nations foreign relations aims. A 1949 Army Information Digest article described the post World War II global mission of the
American military as a world-wide mission of staggering extent [. . .
that] reminds every military and civilian citizen that our Armed Forces
today represent this country abroad more extensively than any other
group or organization.27 Military officials believed that the behavior of
personnel abroad reflected on the United States as a whole. Colonel R. G.
Stanton, the chief of the Armys Procurement and Separation Branch, attempted to justify the rejection of forty percent of applicants for enlistment despite a shortage of personnel (which he termed a military manpower crisis) as necessary for maintaining high standards to sustain the
Armys prestige in the world. He argued that the success of the ideological missionthat of demonstrating the superiority of the American system and the American way of life in occupied nationsrequired the
Army to maintain an excellent reputation and reject inferior applicants.
According to Colonel Stanton, even the low-ranking private was our
46 Unofficial Ambassadors

Governments official spokesman in thousands of daily, seemingly unimportant contacts with foreign nationals.28
Transformations in official responses to relations between American
personnel and Germans illustrate views of how interpersonal interactions
could further military and foreign relations goals in the early years of occupation. When American troops entered Germany in September 1944,
U.S. military policy took a hard stance in outlawing fraternization with
Germans.29 The nonfraternization laws remained in place after the Germans surrendered to the Allies in May 1945. The prescriptive literature
produced for American military personnel in the early months of occupation depicted Germans as malicious and underhanded. One Army pamphlet cautioned readers to remember always that Germany, although
conquered, is still a dangerous enemy nation whose peopleindividually or collectivelywere never to be trusted. Soldiers were told that
We must bring home to the Germans that their support of Nazi leaders,
their tolerance of racial hatreds and persecutions, and their unquestioning
acceptance of the wanton aggressions on other nations have earned for
them the contempt and distrust of the civilized world. To convey American condemnation of the German people, military personnel were forbidden from engaging in any unofficial interactions with them: Specifically,
it is not permissible to shake hands with them, to visit their homes, to exchange gifts with them, to engage in games or sports with them, to attend
their dances or social events, or to accompany them on the street or elsewhere. Particularly, avoid all discussion or argument with them.30 Military leaders also worried that intimate relations with German women
could lure American soldiers into dangerous situations. A pamphlet titled
Dont Be a Sucker in Germany! warned service personnel that Youll see
a lot of good-looking babes on the make there. German women have been
trained to seduce you. Is it worth a knife in the back?31 Military officials
advocated this cautious and stern approach to ensure that the Germans
understood their status as a defeated people and deferred to the Allied
Despite these early expressions of distrust and disapproval of the German people, U.S. military policy toward them softened within months of
the Allied victory in Europe. Military leaders allowed a friendlier stance
because of the difficulty in enforcing the fraternization ban, especially between American soldiers and German women and children, and because
they came to believe that informal relations between servicemen and Germans could aid occupation goals. In June 1945, General Eisenhower
stated that the ban on fraternization did not include very small children. The following month, Eisenhower allowed American personnel to
converse with adult Germans in public. On October 1, 1945, the Allied
Unofficial Ambassadors 47

Control Council officially removed limits on fraternization except for restrictions on the billeting of U.S. soldiers with Germans and marriage
with Germans.32 Eisenhower announced that the relaxation of bans on
fraternization would assist the forces in carrying out their occupation
duties. He also informed personnel that they were to represent the American way of life.33 In December 1946, the military government permitted
marriages between Germans and Americans.34
The permission of casual contacts between American service personnel
and Germans reflected a growing sense among military leaders of the usefulness of interpersonal contacts in tackling the monumental projects of
reeducating citizens of occupied nations and reconstructing their societies.
Because so many servicemen were in intimate relationships with German
women, occupation leaders saw such contacts as a means to teach American democracy to the Germans. A 1946 Army Information Digest article
by Major T. P. Headen urged servicemen who dated German women to
educate the girlfriends and their families about democratic political participation. According to Headen, [The life of the German girlfriend] has
been as different from that of her American boy friend as night is from
day. She is not only ignorant of his background, but extremely curious.
He is like a man from another worlda better worldand he is in a position to tell her about it. Major Headen illustrated his points using a fictive couple, Joe and Hilda. He urged Joe, and the thousands like
him who could serve as a powerful means . . . for re-educating the German people, to prepare for discussions with Hilda and her relativesin
particular, her fatherto explain most effectively the superiority of the
American political system.35
Friendly relations between servicemen and local children also were
considered important for teaching democracy as well as demonstrating
American good will in occupied Germany. General Lucius Clay advocated
the spontaneous expression of American good will and the American
way of life in soldiers interactions with children through the militarys
German Youth Activities organization. In General Clays view, Christmas
parties given for German children in 1947, Full of spontaneity and good
will . . . did more than anything else can do to demonstrate democracy in
action. They were better than all the dull lectures and training on democracy.36 In Frankfurt, servicemen spent off-duty hours working with children in the German Youth Program sponsored by US Forces, European
Theater. Activities included playing American games, teaching democratic methods, and throwing parties.37 At Christmastime in 1948,
nearly 1,700,000 German boys and girls engaged in recreational activities
in the German Youth Activities program organized by American service

48 Unofficial Ambassadors

personnel and German adults.38 American soldiers founded the Bremen

Boys Club to instruct German youth in the principles of self-government.
The boys prepared for a democratic future by learning about the secret
ballot system, forming a constitutional committee, campaigning, and
holding an election.39
U.S. military representatives believed that individual expressions of respect would show residents of occupied countries that the Americans intended a benevolent rather than oppressive rule, and that this respect
would help win their cooperation in achieving occupation goals. Captain
William B. Koons, a public information officer in Kyushu, Japan, advised
service personnel to behave courteously and considerately toward the
Japanese. He described a Soldier in Kyushu as first of all a fightingman, albeit one who was there to bring peace and democratization to
Japan. According to Koons, soldiers received weekly education about
international affairs and appropriate conduct toward the Japanese. Captain Koons considered language differences always a formidable barrier, but explained that soldiers could convey politeness and good will to
the Japanese through bowing, simple greetings, and playing games with
Even before the proliferation of official requests for service personnel
to aid U.S. military and foreign relations goals through interpersonal contacts, American servicemen and servicewomens voluntary aid to allies
and former enemies alike demonstrated generosity and good will to local
peoples. Two days before Christmas 1945, Stars and Stripes published
several articles describing military personnels welfare work and donations for European children. GIs and WACs (members of the Womens
Army Corps) in Frankfurt prepared to distribute chocolate bars, gum,
doughnuts, fruit juice, magazines, writing materials, clothing, and toys to
3,500 Allied displaced children. In Bremen, servicemen donated rations
to provide toys and candy for 7,000 homeless children in hospitals, orphanages, and camps for displaced persons. WACs in Wiesbaden invited
Polish, Estonian, and Czech displaced children to a Yuletide party featuring candy, cookies, ice cream, a Mickey Mouse movie, and Christmas carols. And in Paris, GIs filled bins with candy, gum, and soap for French
children.41 Army units also gave Christmas and New Year parties for German children.42
Military personnels charity continued into the later years of occupation. In 1952, servicemen adopted orphanages or poor families in the
town of Bad Kreuznach. Soldiers choirs performed for orphanages and
hospitals and in town-square gatherings, and gave gifts of food and clothing.43 Armed forces personnel assisted Okinawans in recovering from war

Unofficial Ambassadors 49

and typhoon damage by donating time and money to hospitals, schools,

and asylums. In 1952, they donated over $100,000 to causes that aided
The promotion of good relations between the U.S. military and local
residents through interpersonal contacts continued throughout the 1950s
and into the 1960s. An official history of the Army in Europe during this
period stated that Official national and military programs helped to create good will between Americans and their hosts, but real understanding
and cooperation could be achieved only through person-to-person contacts and a genuine desire to make friends. Thus, all USAEUR [United
States Army Europe] personnel were urged to accept personal responsibility for developing good community relations. In the view of Army officials, then, personnel, whether on- or off-duty, were expected to promote
military goals through their personal behavior. In other words, their job
around the clockincluded getting along well with the local people. According to the Army history, military supervisors gave specific advice for
establishing good community relations:
[C]ommanders insisted that their personnel pay debts promptly, conduct
themselves with dignity in private and in public, and practice safe and
courteous driving. All personnel were encouraged to develop an interest
in the local people and their customs, to learn to speak their language, to
join local social and sport groups, and to participate in local community
activities and celebrations as often as possible.

Considerate and responsible behavior as well as sociable activities were

promoted in Germany, as well as in allied nations such as France and

The Advocacy of Soft Power in Military Guidebooks

Political scientist Joseph S. Nye, Jr., who served in the Clinton administration as Assistant Secretary of Defense, has written extensively about the
United States use of what he terms hard power and soft power.
Power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes one wants. Hard power is coercive, taking such forms as military
force and economic inducements, while soft power influences through attraction, seduction, and cooptationshap[ing] what others want. According to Nye, In international politics, the resources that produce soft
power arise in large part from the values an organization or country expresses in its culture, in the examples it sets by its internal practices and
50 Unofficial Ambassadors

policies, and in the way it handles its relations with others.46 After World
War II, the U.S. militarys attempts to sensitize personnel to how they
might be perceived by residents of the countries in which they were stationed reflected the assumption that military goals and foreign relations
required not only the capacity for hard power, gendered masculine, but
also soft power, gendered feminine. Soldiers stationed abroad, trained to
display toughness when called upon, actually spent much of their time in
peaceful situations among occupied and host nation residents. Although
the potential for military force was there, most situations did not call for
this. Therefore, soldiers engaging in everyday activities with or in view of
local peoples could advance U.S. aims by exercising soft power, influencing what non-Americans thought of themand, by extension, the U.S.
military presence, and even American values and U.S. international goals
by comporting themselves in ways that non-American observers would
find appealing. By showing sensitivity toward and an understanding of
local peoples, military personnel were drawing upon a feminine dimension of power in interpersonal international relations.
Military guidebooks produced by the Department of Defense in the
1950s for personnel stationed in Europe and the Pacific gave detailed advice for exercising soft power in interpersonal contacts. These pocket
guides assumed that the success of military goals abroad and the acceptance of U.S. bases in foreign countries required service personnel to
convey to local residents a spirit of cooperation and understanding. The
pamphlets discouraged any offensive behavior, particularly rudeness, arrogance, drunkenness, and cultural insensitivity.47 The 1951 guide for
Germany warned that Europeans judge us [Americans] by the ill-mannered, trouble-making, boastful minority, and discouraged incivility toward any German man, woman, or child, as well as disregard for German
customs.48 A Pocket Guide to France (1951) advised against boasting
about ones pay or being better off than the French or other Allied soldiers.49 European nations had suffered far more destruction and loss of
life than had the United States during World War II, and were still recovering economically from the war into the 1950s. Americans abroad were
expected to demonstrate sensitivity to the people who had withstood
greater hardship than they.
Servicemens heavy drinking, a common problem that undermined military discipline, led to fights and accidents and made local people resentful. The advice literature tried to discourage servicemens drunkenness
by asking readers to consider non-Americans reactions to those who
drank excessively. A Pocket Guide to the Philippines (1955) declared that
Filipinos are moderate in drinking and look with considerable contempt
on a drunken foreigner. The guide for France stated that the French
Unofficial Ambassadors 51

despise drunkenness.50 The consideration of non-American perspectives

indicates a concern that although the United States had emerged from the
war as a superpower, the bad behavior of individual citizens abroad could
jeopardize international cooperation by eroding host nationals tolerance
of U.S. bases, which in turn could harm U.S. global military effectiveness.
The guides also reveal concerns that racism endangered American goals
of international cooperation. In 1960, approximately ninety percent of
U.S. military personnel stationed overseas were white; the other ten percent were categorized as nonwhite.51 Some personnel sent abroad encountered people of Asian or African heritage for the first time in their
lives. Whites accustomed to Jim Crow segregation found themselves in
countries where whites were the minority, or where people of color mixed
freely with whites. The military literature advised personnel to rein in
racist behavior in countries where they were likely to encounter nonwhites. The pocket guide for France told readers to Bear in mind . . . that
the French Union, or Empire, is made up of peoples of many races, colors,
and languages and that there is no discrimination in France against any of
them. Africans, Indochinese, Moroccans and all other people are on equal
footing in restaurants and other public places.52 The 1950 pamphlet for
Korea warned that using the term gook[s] was particularly objectionable to Koreans and a bad habit that can do more harm than all our
good intentions could ever accomplish.53 The guide for the Philippines
advised against referring to Filipinos as natives: The word is not understood in the same way we [Americans] use itas for example, when
we speak of a native of New England. The word native is incorrectly used
by many people to refer to an uncivilized person.54
Besides describing behavior to avoid, the pamphlets encouraged positive actions that the armed forces hoped would promote successful American international relations. To foster courtesy toward local peoples and
also understanding of their ways of life, the pocket guides provided information about their cultures, customs, and histories. In addition, to facilitate communication and friendly relations between American military
personnel and local people, each booklet contained a glossary of frequently used words and phrasesincluding courteous expressions such as
How do you do? Good morning, and Please excuse me, as well as
formal terms of address such as Sir and Madam, accompanied by
pronunciation guides.55
The language of partnership that appears in the guides reflected the
American effort to cultivate pro-United States, pro-democracy, anti-communist alliances. By the early 1950s, the prescriptive literature endeavored
to inculcate in servicemen an understanding of the United States and its
allies as friends, if not always equals, in the mission to establish democ52 Unofficial Ambassadors

racy and oppose the spread of communism. According to the pocket

guides, allies differed from the United States in terms of customs and language, yet shared similar goals. France was described as Americas Atlantic Partner committed, like the United States, to democracy and the
fight against the perceived communist threat.56 A Pocket Guide to Korea
discussed the United StatesSouth Korea alliance against the communist
world beyond the iron curtain on the northern side of the thirty-eighth
parallel.57 The guide for the Philippines credited the United States with
teaching democracy to the Filipinos and thus preparing them for attaining
independence from the United States in 1946. The pamphlet also mentioned the American-Filipino alliance against communism in the Korean

The U.S. Military and Foreign Relations in

American Popular Culture
Even before World War II had ended, popular visual and literary representations of American servicemens relations with local peoples, including
former enemies, promulgated the image of a mostly benevolent, though
not always perfect, U.S. military that wanted not to dominate other nations but rather to cooperate with them in making the world a better
place. These depictions deemphasized service personnels hard power
roles, instead highlighting feminine qualities of compassion and sensitivity, as well as paternalistic protectiveness. Norman Rockwells painting
The American Way (1944) reflected Americans desire to see their nations
military power not as destructive but rather as a force for good. Almost
the entire painting is filled with the image of a uniformed G.I., his daunting rifle set down nearby (though still readily grabbed if needed), kneeling
down to feed his rations to a little barefoot girl, presumably a victim of
war regardless of whether she is a citizen of an allied or enemy nation. In
this image, the American Way of wielding power, as expressed in the
paintings title, was at heart to comfort, feed, and help, not to harm.
A Bell for Adano (1944), a novel by John Hersey, conveyed a message
of patience and understanding in relations with former enemy peoples.
The story follows Major Victor Joppolo of the U.S. Army as he tries to figure out the best way to teach democracy to the people of a town in occupied Italy. Joppolo has to contend with G.I.s drunkenness and disrespect
for the local people, as well as the confusion, eagerness to please, and
remnants of fascism in some of the townspeople. Ultimately, ItalianAmerican relations are built upon the mutual generosity, trust, and respect
established in informal social interactions. In his 1946 forward to the
Unofficial Ambassadors 53

Norman Rockwell, The American Way (1944 Disabled

American Veterans: World War II poster). Reproduced by
permission of the Norman Rockwell Family Agency, Inc.
Photo Courtesy Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge,

book, Hersey wrote that the immigrant heritage of Americans, as embodied by Italian-American Major Joppolo, was an asset in forging strong
postwar relations between the United States military representatives and
Europeans.59 The popular book, which won the Pulitzer Prize, reflected
how the American people wanted to see the role of their nation in the
Another Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Vern Sneiders The Teahouse of
the August Moon (1951), is a rich cultural example that explores how to
best enact U.S. postwar goals through international cooperation. Teahouse tells a story of Army officials and their relations with the residents
54 Unofficial Ambassadors

of an Okinawan village during the occupation of Japan. The novels main

character is Captain Jeff Fisby, a former pharmacy-owner from Ohio
charged with rehabilitating the village. His duties include establishing a
school, training the Okinawans in democracy, and repairing the damage caused to the village by the war. In the first part of the novel, Fisby
seems weak-minded, ineffectual, and easily taken in by the scheming of
wily Okinawans. His interpreter, Sakini, is an Okinawan who exploits
his employers ineptitude. At first, the Okinawans are lackadaisical and
unwilling to cooperate with the Armys plans for transforming their island. Fisby continually clashes with the natives, a term used for Okinawans throughout the novel, until he realizes that the militarys strategy of
imposing Western values and institutions in Okinawa simply will not
work with the villagers. Reflecting upon the history of the Okinawan people makes Fisby aware of the flaws in the militarys approach to their
charges and his own complicity in it: What could these people do against
an invader? Why, they could only accept whatever was forced upon
them. They were just a little people on a little island. Now, for the first
time, he realized that he, too, was an invader placed over them. And he
Teahouse upholds the postWorld War II cultural internationalist aspiration to understand the ways of diverse peoples and to cooperate with
them, even former enemies, rather than force American ideals and goals
upon them. According to historian Akira Iriye, advocates of cultural internationalism after the war believed that solving social and economic problems required greater recognition of and respect for cultural diversity than
had been shown during the interwar years, for example, by the League of
Nations Organization of Intellectual Cooperation. And in her extensive
analysis of middlebrow popular cultural texts such as magazine articles, novels, and movies, literary scholar Christina Klein shows that many
Americans strongly desired to strengthen connections between the United
States and peoples of Asian countries in particular as a means of creating
an integrated, harmonious world as well as prevailing in the Cold War.61
In Teahouse of the August Moon, Fisby eventually discovers that the
key to rehabilitating the Okinawan village is to allow the people to return
to their prewar values and way of life, with some modifications that will
strengthen their economy and put their island on track to becoming a
thriving democratic capitalist society. Teahouse proposes an evolutionary
model of social progress: the U.S. military would be most effective if it
allowed the Okinawans to evolve toward the American ideal of democratic capitalism on their own terms, with a little help from the Americans. At one point, Fisby compares the prewar teahouse meetings of Okinawan government leaders to the tavern gatherings of Virginias House of
Unofficial Ambassadors 55

Burgesses members, where Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe over

their cups[made] plans for the yet unborn American nation.62 It becomes clear in the novel that the role of the United States in this evolution
toward democracy and free enterprise is to assist the Okinawans with becoming more efficient entrepreneurs, and to protect these people from the
domineering Japanese, whose shadow would stunt the growth of the Okinawans toward autonomy, democracy, and economic self-sufficiency.
The Teahouse of the August Moon purports to oppose taking a paternalistic approach to restructuring an occupied society, and argues for rebuilding occupied lands as a joint endeavor, whereby Americans aid the
subject people while deeply respecting their customs and society. Fisbys
immersion into the Okinawan way of life proves far more effective in enabling him to influence the Okinawans than the top-down imposition of
American values and strategies. As he becomes more attuned to Okinawan culture, he starts wearing kimonos and sandals, drinking tea, and
adopting what he perceives to be the worldview of the Okinawan people,
which includes cultivating serenity and appreciation for nature and
beauty. Indeed, the previously ineffectual and sometimes foolish Fisby, in
taking a sensitive, feminine approach to Okinawan culture, has become a
more thoughtful and influential man. The project of restructuring Okinawan society, then, helps the Okinawansas well as Fisbyto reach maturity. Eventually, Okinawans willingly adopt some American economic
methods and styles, but only what they believe to be in their best interests.
The village thrives when Fisby works with the people, in accordance with
their worldview, rather than when he tries to give them orders, which only
makes them want to subvert him.
Although Sneider and many Americans in the early Cold War years
wanted to view their nations foreign relations as peaceable and altruistic,
the reality of the U.S. exertion of power abroad first and foremost to obtain the outcomes that American policymakers wanted for the benefit of
their own nation cannot be denied. In the novel, Fisby rejects coercion
and avoids the appearance of paternalism, but his soft-power approach to
the Okinawans ultimately is aimed at altering their society in accordance
with U.S. objectives. From the perspective of the novel, however, this exercise of U.S. power is preferable to the alternative of letting the Okinawan
people languish in an unproductive, childlike society that will promote dependency and not supply their needs. During the Cold War, some internationalists insisted on promoting cultural exchanges that did not advance
national superiority, but rather focused on achieving global peace through
basic human contact and understanding.63 For many Americans, however,
a primary goal of cultural internationalist efforts was to win the Cold War
against communism.
56 Unofficial Ambassadors

The popular representations of military men in occupied and host nations as selflessly helpful reflected Americans ambivalence about their nations militarization. The postwar deployment of military power abroad
and the dominance of other nations, even when those nations were former
enemies, made Americans uneasy, even though many nevertheless considered it necessary for U.S. interests as well as global stability. Americans
did not want to see their nation as a militaristic, imperial power.64 Popular
cultural depictions of servicemen, as well as the armed forces portrayals
of military families, reassured Americans that their nations military
power was a force for good.

U.S. Servicemen as Fathers and Husbands

Other popular representations of U.S. service personnel abroad during the
Cold War portrayed ideal relations between the military and peoples of
foreign countries by casting American servicemen in an overtly paternal
role. Stories and images intended for American audiences particularly focused on servicemens interactions with children or women. Such representations depicted military personnel, and by extension, the entire armed
forces, as benefactors to the residents of countries housing U.S. bases.
Whereas portrayals of American servicemen with men of other nations
would more readily have brought to mind masculine alliances based on
official diplomatic goals and the potential for military violence, stories
and images of servicemen with children and women more effectively connoted alliances grounded in compassion and the desire for international
peace. Portrayals of servicemen with children also appealed to the idea
of international family ties, though always with the American men in the
role of adult benefactors.
A magazine article described as a true account of some American servicemen and their fatherly care of a Korean boy promulgated this paternalistic idea of familial relations between American military personnel
and the people of allied nations. Marine Corps journalist Captain Jack
Lewis wrote about a twelve-year-old orphan rescued from North Korea
after his parents had been killed there in 1950. The boy, named Henry by
the men, had been adopted by the combat photographers and correspondents of the 1st Marine Air Wing. The men speculated that Henrys
parents had been killed, either deliberately by communists, or accidentally by American fire. Their care of the boy included religious guidance:
Several of the men were devout Catholics and had seen to it that Henry
was properly baptized. We gathered that his parents also had been Catholic and felt that this should be his religion. The Marines took turns
Unofficial Ambassadors 57

shepherding Henry through his nightly recitations of the Hail Mary

and The Lords Prayer. Henry also became a big fan of Western movies,
which he and other Korean children would reenact in play. Captain Lewis
sensed that Henry kept himself more aloof from him than from the other
men; one of his colleagues supposed this might have been due to Captain
Lewiss replacing of another man, Major Monson, who had been father
and mother both to the kid. Eventually, Captain Lewis won Henrys affection through the gift of a dog to replace the boys former pet, allegedly
killed and eaten by the communists. Despite the absence of women, family, and a real home, Captain Lewis and the others rescued Henry from
communism and orphanhood, giving him an approximation of an American childs upbringing that included a Christian education, American entertainment, and even a pet.65 The story justifies the role of the United
States in the Korean War by depicting military personnel in the symbolic
role of fathers who provided affection, guidance, and protection to people
fighting against communism.
Photographs of American servicemen and children in foreign countries
conveyed similar messages about military personnel as paternal representatives of Americas compassionate internationalism. A 1957 article in
U.S. Lady, a magazine primarily for military wives, told how the crew of
the USS Capricornus became the foster fathers of Carmela Russo, a
seven-year-old Neapolitan girl whose father had recently died. Two of the
photographs featured Carmela as the center of attention amidst groups
of uniformed, smiling Navy men. The more than 400 men who had
adopt[ed this] under-privileged Italian child invited Carmela to a company best dinner aboard ship and gave her several dolls. The men extended their generosity to Carmelas family by donating blankets, clothing, and monthly monetary aid to Carmelas mother (who took menial
odd jobs to support her family) and four siblings.66 In 1959, U.S. Lady
published a photograph of several girls from the Istituto Femminile Don
Nicola Mazza Orphanage in Verona receiving a gift of two washing machines from representatives of the Headquarters Company of the Southern European Theater Air Force. In the photograph, the girls (ranging in
age from approximately five to twelve years), some smiling, some solemn,
stand next to the appliances, while three uniformed American servicemen
beam in the background. One of the girls, Lisetta Roucar, reportedly
stated that Now washing will seem more a game than work and our
hands will not get cold and chapped in the winter.67 Through the donation of the washing machines, the Americans allowed the girls to move
closer to an American ideal of childhood by making clothes-washing into
a game, instead of grown-up hard work. The photograph also connected American compassion to American progressiveness and prosperity
58 Unofficial Ambassadors

as represented by modern appliances. Additionally the servicemens donation of washing machines to the orphanage for girls symbolized the promise of the benefits that would accompany alliance with the United States.
Stories of marriages between American servicemen and women of host
and occupied countries served as yet another vehicle for representing ideal
international relations that transcended national and racial differences
through actual family relationships. Ebony and U.S. Lady published generally positive stories about marriages between American servicemen and
European and Asian women in a period when many American states still
enforced racial segregation laws and prohibited marriages between whites
and people classified as nonwhite.68 Marriages between servicemen and
the women they met abroad had taken place well before the 1950s and
1960s, when the Ebony and U.S. Lady stories appeared. During and soon
after World War II, tens of thousands of servicemen had married European women, most of them British, German, Italian, and French. By the
spring of 1947, 60,000 European war brides and children had come
to the United States to be with their American husbands.69 Significantly
fewer Japanese brides came to the United Statesonly 758 by 1950but
enough to attract attention.70 The March 1952 issue of Ebony featured on
its cover a full-page photograph of an African-American soldier and his
Japanese wife. The accompanying article discussed marriage between African-American servicemen and Japanese women and focused on the stories of several couples who resided in Japan and the United States. Overall
it deemed the unions successful, despite disapproval from some AfricanAmerican women in Japan, and some Japanese.71
U.S. Ladys accounts of marriages between military men and local
women appeared sporadically during the years of the magazines publication (1955 to 1968), and unlike the black press spotlighted white servicemen married to European or Asian women. The stories reported that
these unions were warmly received by the womens families, and implied
that they benefited United States-host nation relations. One featured several marriages between American Romeos and Italian Juliets in Verona,
the location of the Headquarters of the Southern European Task Force.
Several of the servicemens last namesBaiocco, Lipani, Cappadoccia
suggest an Italian heritage that helped them to establish connections in
Italy and reminded American readers that most citizens of the United
States, or their ancestors, had originated from other lands.72 Another article that posed the question What are the chances for happiness in interracial marriages? focused on three stories of marriages between Japanese
women and white American men. The article ultimately judged the unions
successful, despite some difficulties not insurmountable stemming
from racial and cultural differences. One of the husbands, Staff Sergeant
Unofficial Ambassadors 59

Kenneth Rigel, had met his wife, Kureha, at an American air base where
she worked. Kurehas parents initially strongly opposed the relationship, but accepted it several months after Kureha and Rigel married. Rigel
happily reported that Im always welcomed whenever I visit my wifes
folks. They show me around places as if theyre proud to have an American son-in-law. According to the article, Kenneth Rigels family in Kansas also accepted their sons marriage to a Japanese woman. Kureha Rigel
said that her husbands family treated her well, and described her motherin-law as wonderful.73 But U.S. Ladys attention to interracial marriages was limited to white American servicemen and Asian women. In
its thirteen years of publication, it never portrayed relationships between
African-American servicemen and nonblack women, reflecting military
officials and most of white Americas disapproval of such marriages.74

Cold War American Families and Womens Roles

The frequency of familial metaphors in representing relationships between
servicemen and host nationals, as well as actual family relationships, illustrate the centrality of ideas about the family to relations between the U.S.
military and peoples of foreign countries. Armed forces organizations also
conceived of American families as bridges between military and foreign
communities. Official guidelines for armed forces personnel, as well as
cultural representations of their interactions with people in foreign countries, posited particular qualities deemed necessary for successful relations
between the U.S. military and countries housing its bases, and for strong
diplomatic relations: friendliness, compassion, and respect for non-American ways of life. Military documents also reveal the expectation that family members, tooespecially wivescould project these qualities, possibly more effectively than could military men. During the late 1940s and
throughout the 1950s, military family members established themselves as
significant contributors to U.S. military and foreign relations goals. To understand the interconnections among families, the armed forces, and foreign relations, and to comprehend the significance of American military
families abroad during the first decades of the Cold War, it is necessary
first to consider postWorld War II assumptions in American society at
large concerning families and anti-communism.
Other scholars of postWorld War II culture and society have illuminated the connections between American families and the arenas of U.S.
domestic politics and foreign relations. Analyses of women and families
during the early Cold War period offer explanations as to why after
World War II there emerged a new kind of glorification of the nuclear
60 Unofficial Ambassadors

family, comprising a breadwinner father, a stay-at-home mother, and several children. Historian Elaine Tyler May connects what she terms the
postwar eras domestic revival to the nations anti-communism. According to May, the ideal of the nuclear family, as well as actual experiences of husbands and wives between the late 1940s and the early 1960s,
are best understood in the context of Cold War politics, not as existing in
a separate private realm. Americans wanted secure jobs, secure homes,
and secure marriages in a secure country. Nuclear families represented
security against encroaching communism. Domestic anticommunism
was another manifestation of containment, writes May. If presumably
subversive individuals could be contained and prevented from spreading
their poisonous influence through the body politic, then the society could
feel secure. Cold War Americans believed that families strengthened the
moral fiber necessary for resisting the insidious spread of communism.
Moreover, nuclear families offered comfort and shelter in a world where
the potential for nuclear war loomed over everyday life.75
The revival of domesticity does not mean that everyone wanted
womens influence limited to their homes and families. Betty Friedans The
Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, resonated for many middle- and
upper-middle-class educated white women, who felt stifled by postwar expectations that women pour their energies into homemaking, childrearing, and pleasing their husbands, and be content with these domestic
activities. Yet historian Joanne Meyerowitz argues that Friedans book,
while important, does not convey a complete picture of American cultural
attitudes about womens roles in the postwar era. Meyerowitz demonstrates that although the Cold War mentality indeed promoted domesticity, articles published in popular magazines such as Ebony and Ladies
Home Journal between 1945 and 1958 also lauded women for their public achievements and service and political participation. Articles in Ladies
Home Journal in particular justified and encouraged womens political
participation as important in the Cold War ideological battle because it
served as a means to prove the strength of democracy to the rest of the
world, including those oppressed by the Soviet government.76

Militarizing Wives and Families . . .

While the wider American society conceived of women as influential participants in domestic and political opposition to communism, so also the
U.S. military at times expressed the view of service wives as proponents of
Cold War military and foreign relations goals. American women had supported soldiers and military causes since the colonial era.77 During the
Unofficial Ambassadors 61

1950s, the recruitment and retention of service personnel increasingly entailed the admission into the armed forces of married applicants or reenlistees, many of whom also had children. Until 1942, disapproval, and at
best, ambivalence, characterized Army policy on families. Married men
and men with minor children were in general not allowed to enlist or
reenlist during peacetime, though exceptions were made. The Army provided limited transportation, housing, and medical care for wives and
children, but primarily to families of officers (including senior noncommissioned officers).78 The maxim If the Army wanted you to have a wife,
they would have issued you one captured the preWorld War II assumption that families burdened rather than assisted service members and military operations.79
The reinstatement of the draft in 1948 and the growing numbers of
married personnel during the 1950s, combined with the Cold War maintenance of hundreds of thousands of personnel worldwide, forced the military leadership to reevaluate this assumption. In July 1955, nearly fortytwo percent of active-duty military personnel were married (seventy-eight
percent of officers and almost thirty-seven percent of enlisted members).80
In 1956, Secretary of the Navy (and former Assistant Secretary of Defense) Charles Thomas acknowledged the centrality of families in the lives
of Navy personnel when he pronounced in a speech to service families
that todays Navy is a married mans Navy.81 By September 1961, the
percentage of married personnel had climbed to almost fifty percent (just
over eighty-two percent of officers and forty-five percent of enlisted members were married). According to Department of Defense Statistics, the
2.54 million officers and enlisted men and women stationed around the
world that year had approximately 1.24 million wives and 2.23 million
children, as well as more than 161,000 other relatives designated as dependents.82 The number of family members considered dependents now
exceeded the number of service members by more than one million.83
The greater presence of wives and children in military life, combined
with the postwar celebration of the family in American culture and society, stimulated a reconceptualization of the stance of the armed forces vis-vis families. In this new vision, families joined soldiers, arms, and strategic bases as components of the Cold War defense arsenal. Military officials became more forthright in discussing how women, in their role as
wives, were potentially beneficial influences on the military readiness of
men, and also on the decisions of husbands to reenlist or make careers in
the armed forces. In this view, attracting and retaining competent personnel meant recruiting not only men but also their wives. In a study of
women and militaries, political scientist Cynthia Enloe states that Military commanders and their civilian political superiors . . . try to make use
62 Unofficial Ambassadors

of those women who have married soldiers. If those women can be socialised to become military wives, they can perhaps further some of the
militarys own goals.84 Militaries historically have relied heavily on
womens work, moral support, and self-sacrifice, but their ambivalence
about feminine assistance has diminished womens importance and visibility. Acknowledging womens contributions would undermine the image of
militaries as ultramasculine institutionsan image that military men as
well as those who studied them were reluctant to relinquish. Before the
feminist movement that emerged in the 1960s, scholars of militaries focused almost exclusively on mens roles in soldiering, thus reinforcing
womens invisibility.85 Since the American Revolution, the U.S. military
had used womens services as laundresses, cooks, nurses, foragers, water
carriers, and correspondence copiers, among other capacities (including
sexual), but diminished their importance by designating civilian women as
camp followers, which connotes a parasitic relationship that positions women as separate from and dependent on the armed forces rather
than essential contributors.86 Later, women officially employed in the
armed forces were assigned to a separate, and usually temporary, status
that distinguished them from male soldiers. After World War II, armed
forces officials became far more willing to acknowledge that wives and
families could be useful, even crucial, for accomplishing military aims.
Navy, Army, and Air Force officials statements to service wives and their
families, and magazine advertisements intended for Air Force wives, show
that military familieswives in particularwere considered fundamentally important to the defense of the United States through their support
of servicemen.
Military officials during the 1950s made numerous public statements
informing wives that they were expected to contribute to military goals. In
1955, U.S. Lady published a letter from Admiral Arleigh Burke to the
Navy Wives Club of America. Burke assumed that wives were to assist the
Navy by facilitating social relations among shipmates to strengthen their
sense of camaraderie, by conveying to the civilian community the importance of the Navy in national defense and assistance to allies, and by
lend[ing] inspiration and encouragement [to their husbands and the
Navy] when the going gets tough.87 In 1956, the Fleet Reserve Association sponsored a Mrs. United States Navy contest for which women
wrote essays on Why I Am Proud to Be a Navy Wife. The semifinalists
traveled with their families to Long Beach, California, for a week-long
gathering that included Navy officials. In a speech to the families, Secretary of the Navy Charles Thomas spoke of the typical Navy enlisted
mans wife as having served in the Navy as if her marital and domestic
duties were as official as her husbands military obligations. The U.S.
Unofficial Ambassadors 63

Lady editors wrote that the thirty-one families assembled in Long Beach
presented a picture of All-American friendliness, health, happiness and
family togetherness that made the top Navy brass assembled there as
proud as new fathers. Here was a vital element in the Navy hierarchy that
had never been placed in the spotlight before. We all sensed the wonder of
a major discovery.88 The major discovery was that families could be
an asset to the armed forces.
The top Navy brass were not alone in their assessment of families as
valuable to the military. Army leaders also conceived of wives as essential
to the effective functioning of their organization. Army Chief of Staff
General Maxwell D. Taylor expressed this view in a 1956 article for service wives. He recalled a debate among officers in Korea over the question
of whether or not bachelors performed their duties better than married
men. The contest was animated and when the voting time came, the
mess split exactly in half, so that when it reached me at the head of the
table, it was a tie, wrote General Taylor. It was not hard for me to
break it. I said, Gentlemen, regardless of the arguments pro and con, I
know it as a personal fact that if Mrs. Taylor had not taken me in hand
years ago, I would still be a second lieutenant. General Taylor credited
the ladies of the Army for backing men in their military careers and
said that he regarded the women as indispensable assets crucial to the
success of the Army in future battle. According to Taylor, military
might and mobility depended upon womens support of their husbands:
the man behind the gun must have behind him a loyal Army wife, capable of sustaining himwhen together or when separatedwith understanding, with affection, and with the fierce pride of the wife of a warrior. Indeed, here Taylor contended that a married serviceman would
prove a more effective soldier than an unmarried one. He also drew upon
historical ideals of womens sacrifices for the state when he likened Cold
War Army wives to the Roman matrons who told their sons to come
back from battle with their shields or on theman image of the ultimate
maternal sacrificeand to nineteenth-century Army wives who accompanied their husbands to the West in covered wagons, braving hardship and
Like the Navy and Army top brass, Air Force Chief of Staff General
Nathan F. Twining encouraged women to bolster the armed forces, and
national security, through their support of servicemen. In a 1956 message of faith and courage for Air Force Wives, General Twining expressed appreciation for the perseverance of women and children during
the Cold War age of tension. Twining acknowledged that service to the
Air Force, which operat[ed] largely under wartime conditions, placed
stresses and strains on families. He lauded the women he called Twen64 Unofficial Ambassadors

tieth Century Pioneers for enduring such a hard life and for proudly
standing behind their husbands. The pioneer reference, also used by
General Taylor, evoked the romantic nationalistic image of the frontier
families of the previous century to portray the U.S. international presence
in the mid-twentieth century as a continuation of Americans historical
expansion and progress. Twinings message commingled praise for wives
with the assertion that the defense of the nationand more precisely, the
security of familiesdepended upon womens support of servicemen:
American security and safety require greater readiness not lessduring
an age of tension, not merely for a few months or years. If your children
and your childrens children grow up in a nation not ravaged by conflict,
it will be because we had enough skilled . . . experienced, and above all,
ready men, poised through those years to defend and retaliate against any
attacker. In a large measure, whether we have these men or not depends
on you.90

Twinings view of womens role in fortifying the Air Force resembled

the perspectives of other armed forces officials: that womens domestic
work and wifely duties were essential to military strength. In other words,
military leaders of the 1950s conceived of military goals, including the
containment of communism, as not only requiring men to be fighters, but
also women to be sustainers of men and families.
These military authorities flattering addresses to wives offered much
praise, and in return shrewdly demanded womens voluntary service to
armed forces readiness. Certainly military leaders felt genuine appreciation for the contributions of family members, no doubt in large part due
to their own dependence on their wives. Still, the unprecedented militarization of the Cold War era, combined with the fact that a large percentage of personnel had spouses and children, forced U.S. military officials
whether they liked it or not to figure out how to contend with families. If
they could not ignore them, then they had to find ways to minimize what
they considered their negative impact on military activities; but they could
also make use of them.91

. . . and Reenvisioning the Military

A series of thirteen public announcements targeting Air Force wives between April 1956 and December 1959 in the magazine U.S. Lady illustrates the construction of a new vision of the Air Force with white nuclear families at the center. This vision did not replace the predominant
Unofficial Ambassadors 65

masculine image of the Air Force, but rather served as an alternative conceptualization, intended to appeal to women and maintain their support
for Air Force goals. These advertisements tried to sell to women a vision of families as the foundation of military success yet they also reflected
the relatively recent acceptance of the family as integral to the function
and purpose of the military, rather than primarily a hindrance to it. Each
full-page announcement began with the salutation Dear Lady, followed
by a succinct statement in cursive script, and a photograph of a middleclass, white family scene that took up most of the page. These Dear
Lady messages reveal the presumed connections among the following:
the service wife (who, one assumes, is the woman in each family scene);
the serviceman (the male figure who appears in nearly all of the photographs but never in uniform); the family; national security; and the
American ideals of freedom, prosperity, the home, religious faith (specifically, Christianity in the one advertisement on the faith of your choice),
and economic opportunity.
The first Dear Lady advertisement that appeared in U.S. Lady in
1956 brought together the elements considered fundamental to the wellbeing of Cold War Americans to convey the idea of the interconnectedness of the Air Force, the home and family, and security. It offered a large
photograph of a woman, man, and three children enacting a cozy family
scene above the message Dear Lady: The family is the real heart of the
U.S. Air Force, handwritten in a flowing script. A small image of the Air
Force seal, the imprimatur that reminds the reader that this message is official, appears discreetly in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. The
group is positioned before the living room fireplace, the proverbial hearth
that connotes home and family. The woman sits in an armchair reading
Pinocchio to two attentive children resting on either side of her, while the
man and a third child kneel together nearby on the floor, their attention
on the childs toy vehicle. The image and written text conflate the nuclear
family, the home, the Air Force, and personal as well as national security.
The announcement also in effect told its audience that the Air Force existed to protect the family ideal: families were the raison dtre of the military; national defense ultimately centered on defending them. The Pinocchio storya tale of a wooden puppet boy (created by a human father) who loses his way and encounters misadventures when he leaves
his fathers home in pursuit of pleasureserves as a subtle but dark reminder of the heartache and dangers that threaten to befall those who
underrate the security and happiness of home and family. And the story
about a human father who sought to give life to his artificial creation
paralleled, in a fashion, the Air Forces endeavor to remake itself into a
flesh-and-blood family organization.92
66 Unofficial Ambassadors

The first Dear Lady U.S. Air Force advertisement, which

appeared in U.S. Lady in 1956: Dear Lady: The family is
the real heart of the U.S. Air Force.

Another advertisement published in July 1958 conjoined the Air Force

with the American ideals of family, abundance, and freedom. This one
presented the message Dear Lady: Mainstay of our freedom . . . The U.S.
Air Force Family. The photograph above the written text featured an
idyllic scene of a family picnicking in a grassy area near a pond. The man,
woman, and two young children representing the family surround an
abundant picnic feast of watermelon, homemade cake, and other foods.
The sitting man and kneeling woman, at about equal heights, convey their
solidarity and their equally important positions in their family and the Air
Force as they smile at one another from either side of the spread, while the
children sit between them, the girl focused on eating a large watermelon
Unofficial Ambassadors 67

This Dear Lady U.S. Air Force advertisement appeared in

U.S. Lady in July 1958: Dear Lady: Mainstay of our freedom . . . The U.S. Air Force Family.

wedge, the boy preoccupied with a toy boat. The family appears happy
and secure. The announcement conveys multiple messages: that families,
rather than weapons and war and soldiers, represented the core of the Air
Force; that the Air Force intended to safeguard the abundance, family togetherness, and personal freedom that were assumed to characterize the
American way of life; and that womens work of sustaining the family
raising children, taking care of men, and fulfilling other domestic duties
was considered central to the accomplishment of military goals.93
A Dear Lady advertisement from December 1958 united Christianity, family, and the Air Force. Filling most of the page is a large photograph of a man, woman, and two children (older than the children fea68 Unofficial Ambassadors

tured in most of the other announcements) in Sunday dress, grouped close

together as they walk cheerfully down a tree-lined street, presumably en
route to or from church. The group smiles into the camera. Above this
scene sits a small image of a chapel and a miniature version of a family
that resembles the group featured in the main photograph; below, a reproduction of the Air Force seal. The accompanying written text reads Dear
LadyThe faith of your choice . . . your sense of togetherness . . . are the
strength of the U.S. Air Force. Although this message purports to acknowledge religious diversitythe faith of your choicethe image of

This Dear Lady U.S. Air Force advertisement appeared in

U.S. Lady in December 1958: Dear LadyThe faith of
your choice . . . your sense of togetherness . . . are the
strength of the U.S. Air Force.
Unofficial Ambassadors 69

the chapel and the publication of this announcement in the December

issue of U.S. Lady implicitly advocate Christianity above other religions.
The text as a wholewhich appeared in a period of heavy militarization,
in the United States and abroad, against what Americans considered to be
the godless enemy communismdraws upon the myth of American territorial expansion and military actions in North America and abroad as a
manifest destiny favored by providence. This Dear Lady advertisement portrays the Air Force mission in terms of the ideological expansion
of American values, represented by the happy white middle-class family,
the Christian church, and the allusion to religious freedom.94
The adult male figure that appears in eleven of the thirteen Dear
Lady announcements warrants further discussion. This figure is never in
uniform, although the reader assumes from his agemid-to-late twenties
and olderand from his confident bearing that he is probably an officer.
In two of the ads the male figure wears white-collar apparela dress shirt
and tie, a business suitbut in the others, the man is dressed casually. In
each image the man is sitting with, kneeling with, walking with, playing
with, or holding a child or children. His relaxed attitude, casual dress,
thoughtful or smiling expression, and proximity to children communicate
that although he is employed by the Air Force, he is at heart a family man.
In these advertisements, then, the Air Force in effect presented itself as
a corps staffed by fathers and husbands, a military body that drew its
strength from families, rather than relying on force alone.

Families as Unofficial Ambassadors

The view that wives and families could serve military aims applied to families stationed overseas soon after World War II, and came to encompass
the assumption that they could help advance their countrys foreign relations goals. When families began joining service personnel abroad in
1946, they were expected to aid military goals by supporting mens morale and thereby helping to make overseas missions run more smoothly.
Moreover, military planners believed that families women especially,
but children as wellcould promote good relations with the residents of
occupied nations by projecting American compassion and good will. The
armed forces encouraged womens and families activities and attributes
that were believed to promote American involvement, cooperation, and
friendship in countries that housed U.S. bases. Although servicemen certainly were considered capable of demonstrating compassion and friendship, they were also soldiers, trained to fight, and so represented their nations potential for military force and violence. Women and children came
70 Unofficial Ambassadors

to be considered more effective representatives of peaceful intention, humanitarianism, understanding, and international cooperation.
Conceptions of women and children as representatives of American
understanding and good will abroad surfaced in the early years of military occupation. At the orientation that spouses and older children attended upon arriving in Germany in 1946, their discussion leader advised
them not only to learn European languages, but also to try to understand and appreciate the thoughts and feelings, aims and aspirations that
are expressed by those languages.95 Wives and children, then, were to
do more than simply communicate with Europeans; they were also expected to empathize with them. Military leaders encouraged wives to engage in womens work that aided occupation goals. General Lucius
Clay praised women for their charitable work to aid the German people:
The good work which [womens] clubs accomplished was remarkable
and contributed much toward making the Germans understand the humane characteristics of the American people.96
The incorporation of families into armed forces and foreign relations
goals appeared in the early official prescriptive literature for families in
occupied countries. These pamphlets mostly contained accounts of local
history, culture, people, and climate, as well as information about services
and facilities available to American families. There did appear, however, a
few suggestions to guide families in their interactions with residents of
occupied countries. A Guide for Dependents in Kyoto (1946) informed
readers that a greater responsibility is placed upon members of [an overseas] Army than is generally found at installations within the continental
United States. Wives and children of Army personnel in Japan must aid, in
every way, the fulfillment of our primary missions in this occupation.
The guide advised women and children to exercise restraint and detachment in interactions with the Japanese. Yet the booklet also encouraged family members to demonstrate courtesy and a careful willingness to
socialize with the Japanese: Families of Occupation Forces will receive
many invitations to visit the homes of Japanese people. There is nothing
to prohibit such invitations being accepted, and the courtesies returned,
provided a degree of restraint is practiced.97 This advice captures the
complicated position of the American military in the early years of occupation. The Japanese had recently been at war with the United States, and
by definition, occupied nations were considered enemies.98 Historian John
Dower describes the occupation as schizophrenic, combining idealistic
democratic reforms with severe authoritarian rule.99 To help create an
atmosphere of good intention, a cautious but courteous demeanor would
not only maintain American authority but also demonstrate the occupiers
benevolence toward their former enemy.
Unofficial Ambassadors 71

Besides encouraging prudent socializing with residents of occupied

countries, the early prescriptive literature specified activities that women
could perform to assist the occupations. The Kyoto guide mentioned that
occupation planners were seeking teachers to staff schools for American
children, and suggested that dependents of service personnel might take
these jobs. The pamphlet did not state whether the women who staffed
the schools would receive payment or would be considered volunteers. In
either case, the invitation for women to apply for teaching jobs in armed
forces schools underscores the reliance of the armed forces upon womens
work. The expectation that wives should aid military goals appeared in
another Army guide for families in Bad Nauheim, Germany. Among descriptions of the history of the regions salt production and medicinal
baths, and information on riding stables and swimming pools, appeared a
section titled Womens Activities, which asked women to engage in
one or more of these community activities: the American Red Cross,
German language classes, and the German Youth Movement.100 Army
representatives would have considered womens participation in any of
these groups helpful to occupation goals in Germany. As Red Cross volunteers, women would provide unpaid care for American service personnel
and possibly also Germans. By learning German, women would not only
communicate well with Germans, military officials hoped, but also express American good will. And by joining the military-sponsored German
Youth Movement, women ideally would befriend and work closely with
young Germans and help teach American values such as democracy.101
The belief that families could assist military goals in the occupations of
Germany and Japan overlapped with and carried over into Cold War international relations. During the tense months preceding the Soviet blockade of the Western sectors of Berlin in June 1948, General Lucius Clay
hesitated to evacuate American women and children from West Germany
for fear that their departure would set off panic among Germans. In
Clays view, American families in Germany symbolized the commitment
of the United States to extend friendship, aid, and protection to free
Germans threatened by the communist enemy that lurked next door.102 In
1956, General Maxwell Taylor declared that The effect of our forces as
ambassadors of good will is largely conditioned by the quality of the
wives and children who accompany our soldiers abroad.103 Lieutenant
Colonel Walter Luszki, in a 1959 article for military wives, wrote that
Dependents are usually in more extensive contact with the native population than are service men. An average woman makes frequent shopping
trips, deals with repairmen, beauty operators, dressmakers and others,
and in these dealings she may not be sufficiently aware that everything
she says and does may influence the persons attitude toward the United
72 Unofficial Ambassadors

States. Luszki wanted wives to receive more orientation, learn local languages, and engage in joint activities between United States nationals
and members of the host nations, such as Operation Kinderlifttaking German children from Berlin and giving them vacations in American
homes in West Germany.104
Between 1950 and 1960, as the number of U.S. military forces abroad
increased, so did the presence of American families. According to Bureau
of the Census statistics, 107,350 Americans described as dependents of
federal employees lived abroad in 1950. Because most federal employees
abroad that year were members of the armed forces (301,595, far more
than the 26,910 federal civilian employees), one may conservatively estimate that 90,000 of the dependents of federal employees were relatives of military personnel. The 1960 census, which unlike the 1950 census distinguished between dependents of federal civilian employees and
dependents of armed forces personnel, found that 462,504 relatives of
military personnel resided overseas. Thus, the number of spouses, children, and others designated as dependents of military personnel quintupled between 1950 and 1960. By 1960, approximately forty-nine percent
of armed forces personnel abroad were married. That year, the more than
one million Americans abroad associated with the armed forces constituted approximately seventy-eight percent of the entire American population residing in foreign countries.105 Thus, military personnel and their
families composed the vast majority of Americans abroad.
During the late 1940s and 1950s, alongside the evolution of the idea
that families in the United States could contain the internal communist
threat arose the concept that American families overseas could serve as
bulwarks against global communism. The military establishment came to
believe that the containment of international communism was a job not
just for the American soldier but also for the American family. Promoting
positive informal relations would generate non-Americans support for official U.S. aims. According to this assumption, families friendly contacts
with residents of occupied and host countries would help persuade them
to accept a long-term foreign military presence that claimed to defend the
free world against encroaching communism. Women in particular were
considered instrumental in demonstrating American good will and sensitivity toward non-Americans. Moreover, it was hoped that exemplary
families would counter foreign perceptions of Americans as materialistic, unsophisticated individualists concerned only about their own wellbeing, and of the United States as a culturally and territorially imperialistic nation. Thus, military leaders considered American military families
to be cultural and ideological weapons in the war against the spread of
Unofficial Ambassadors 73

Air Force and Army prescriptive literature for the spouses and children
of service members indicates that these organizations regarded the friendliness and consideration of family members interested in local peoples and
their ways of life as essential to good relations between the American military and residents of host countries. Pamphlets for dependents informed them that they were unofficial ambassadors responsible for establishing positive relations with residents of host nations. According to
Air Force and Army guides published in the 1950s for families in the
United Kingdom, France, the Philippines, and other nations, the job of
unofficial ambassador entailed the following duties: the demonstration of
courtesy and good will to local people, respect for the customs and obedience to the laws of host nations, the promotion of human understanding, and the countering of bad impressions made by other Americans. An
Army guide expressed the idea that families, unlike service personnel unaccompanied by spouses and children, add up to the real, hard-core
America in the eyes of foreigners. The pamphlets directed their messages
primarily to wives, who were expected to carry out their ambassadorial
duties through ladylike behavior, sensitivity, interest in other peoples and
cultures, and adaptability to foreign environments.106
The guides warned against behavior that reinforced stereotypes of
Americans as inconsiderate and arrogant and that would make the U.S.
military presence less tolerable. The Army advice literature articulated the
concept of the family as the quintessence of American society: Foreigners
will make allowances, to some extent . . . for the actions of single Americanspeople alone and away from home. But what foreign people see an
American family do becomes Americana and remains fixed in their minds
a long time.107 This statement asserts that American families, more than
servicemen unaccompanied by wives and children, embodied their nations character and therefore bore the most responsibility for representing
their country in a favorable light. The pamphlets for Great Britain and
France discouraged loud and boisterous conduct, the vulgar exhibition of superior wealth, and the American superiority complex.108
Readers also were cautioned not to appear overly friendly or intrusive.
Instead, the guides prescribed an attitude of consideration for local
peoples and respect for their cultures and ways. The Air Force booklet for
families in the United Kingdom asked readers to reject ethnocentrism and
instead adopt a cultural-relativist view of their British hosts: You may
not always understand British customs and practices. But, remember, your
habits and customs may be just as hard for the average Britisher to understand.109 The Army pamphlet offered similar advice: Americans must
understand . . . that they are the foreigners while abroad, and that their
hosts overseas do not always measure success by the same standards that
74 Unofficial Ambassadors

Americans use. According to this booklet, The chief requirement [for

good relations between Americans and host nationals] is a sincere desire
to understand one another and a willingness to accept one another as
friendly human beings with excellent reasons for being different. Readers were admonished not to adopt a high-handed, holier-than-thou attitude toward people in foreign countries or to treat the ways of others
with contempt.110 This advice bespeaks the concern in military organizations that ill-behaved Americans abroad might overstep their positions as
affiliates of a foreign military power and in so doing undermine the acceptance of U.S. bases in foreign countries, as well as discredit claims that the
United States promoted international cooperation, democracy, and freedom for all peoples. An attitude of dominance rather than partnership
could imperil U.S. goals abroad. Yet polite and self-restrained families
could demonstrate to non-American observers that a democratic, prosperous, free-market society did not necessarily breed insolent, extreme individualists who lacked regard for others.
The pamphlets for family members contained assumptions about
womens activities and characteristics that attest to the reliance of international relations on gendered activities and qualities. As seen earlier in this
chapter, servicemen stationed overseas without families received advice on
establishing good relations in local communities. Men, not only women
and children, certainly were considered capable of demonstrating understanding and friendliness to residents of foreign countries. The advice directed at women, and to a lesser extent children, for strengthening American-host national relations reveals the particular contributions that the
armed forces believed women and families could make that were considered valuable not only to interpersonal but also international relations:
demonstration of sensitivity in financial transactions off base; exhibition
of ladylike behavior; adaptation to local mores, as evidenced in emulation
of local standards of dress for women; and the projection of friendliness
and willingness to cooperate with host nationals through clubs and community activities for women and children.
Because women were the primary consumers for their families, the literature asked them to exhibit sensitivity and restraint when making purchases in off-base communities. During the 1950s, while people of other
countries still struggled to recover from damage to their economies inflicted by World War II, Americans enjoyed unprecedented prosperity. The
advice literature for Air Force families in the United Kingdom cautioned
readers that the British, still coping with economic hardship from the war,
might resent Americans who spent money too freely. The guide admonished them that Customary gestures of generosity you would make at
home might well be interpreted abroad as a vulgar exhibition of superior
Unofficial Ambassadors 75

wealth. . . . Dont flash a roll of English pounds. The booklet also asked
readers to help offset the stereotype of the United States [as] a land of
millionaires. The Army pamphlet, which estimated that American
women managed eighty percent of their family budgets, told readers that
to protect the feelings of other people allied with us in a common defense, you need to be careful that your buying always represents actual
needs and is as inconspicuous as possible.111 The expectation that service
wives, in the ordinary activity of shopping, were to sympathize with the
plight of less economically privileged peoples underlay the idea that
women and families abroad could counter criticisms of American society
as materialistic and unconcerned about the hardships endured by other
nations. Sensitivity to the less fortunate was not the only reason for this
advice, however; the Eisenhower administration also worried that military families spending abroad contributed to the outflow of the United
States gold reserves.
Besides urging women to spend money sensitively, the guides asked
them and their families to smooth American-host national relations by exhibiting basic polite behavior. The pamphlets asked family members to exercise good taste by not indulging in complaining or gossipingadvice
that probably stemmed from sexist assumptions about women, as well as
the particular fear that American wives and family members would complain about the U.S. military or reveal information that military officials
preferred to keep from non-Americans. Additional advice was tailored to
specific countries. For example, the pamphlet for families in the United
Kingdom warned against use of the expression bloody (one of the
worst British swear words), and stated that ladies were not to make
unescorted visits to pubs, initiate dart games or buy drinks in pubs (rather
than waiting until asked), or request whiskey at private parties. Showing
respect for local gender mores, it was hoped, would not only keep American women in line, but also counteract impressions of Americans as crude
and reassure residents of host nations that the U.S. military presence did
not signify cultural imperialist intentions to overrun the values and practices of smaller societies.112
Recommendations for womens dress attest to assumptions that women
were especially capable of adapting to foreign cultures and thereby projecting understanding of host societies as well as the proclaimed intention
of the U.S. armed forces to coexist with, rather than dominate, the hosts
of their bases. Although the literature included brief suggestions for childrens clothing and mens uniforms and off-duty apparel, most of the advice on dress was intended for women. The booklet for the United Kingdom informed readers that ladies should not wear slacks in villages or
the countryside, although they could do so in urban areas. The guide also
76 Unofficial Ambassadors

stated that Ladies never appear in public in any state of dishevelment,

a reminder that women were always being watched and their nation
judged by their appearance.113 In contrast to the more formal standards
for womens apparel in the United Kingdom, American women in the
tropical climate of the Philippines received permission to dress more
casually: they learned that hats and gloves are seldom worn, that evening dress will normally be of a summer-type cotton, without hose, and
that lightweight cottons usually served as appropriate apparel. Wearing
clothes that were too formal would have made American women stand
out, and might have given the impression that they thought they were superior to Filipinos. Nevertheless, American women in the Philippines were
not to wear clothes that were too casual or revealing: the guide advised
them to wear sun dresses, slacks, or brief shorts only in recreational
areas or at home.114 The advice literature for Spain took a stern tone on
the subject of womens dress in its italicized instructions that readers give
serious consideration and exercise wholehearted cooperation . . . in
the interest of good Spanish-United States relations. The guide exhorted
women to cover their heads and shoulders in church and to dress conservatively in other public activities. They were to wear modest dresses, but
never shorts or slacks, outside the home. Acceptable swimwear, they were
told, consisted of a one piece bathing suit with a skirt completely around
the hips.115
The guide for France illustrates the expectation that women, more than
men, were to adapt to non-American cultural standards. Advice on mens
apparel consisted of a few lines on military uniforms, and a simple remark
on mens nonwork attire: Military personnel are encouraged to wear appropriate civilian clothing while off duty. In contrast, the advice for service wives offered pointers to help them emulate the style of French
women. Readers were told that Even the poorest paid [French] woman is
ingenious in creating attractive clothing from ordinary materials. This
statement implies that the American woman who did not at least make an
attempt at modishness might be looked upon as lower in status than a menial worker, which could diminish French respect for Americans. Any
state of disheveled appearance (such as hair curlers under a scarf),
warned the guide, can discredit a lady in the minds of the onlookers. To
attain fashion respectability in France, women were urged not to wear
shorts or slacks in public or sports clothes in the cities. The pamphlet suggested that women could find stylish apparel such as ladies hats in Paris,
or arrange for custom-made suits at couturiers for prices significantly
lower than would be paid at the more famous designer houses such as
Dior, Heim, or Schiaparelli.116
The Air Force and Army also expected women and children to
Unofficial Ambassadors 77

strengthen U.S.host nation relations by socializing with local residents.

Such interactions were intended to exemplify the internationalist ideal of
Americans living among, rather than apart from, peoples of other nations.
Furthermore, the self-segregation of Americans might have reinforced the
notion that Americans considered themselves superior to host nationals,
or that U.S. bases were established abroad for the sole purpose of furthering military aims, with no interest in cultural or social exchanges. The
booklet for the United Kingdom asked the reader [not to] isolate yourself in a clique of Air Force friends. Broaden your group of friends to include the British.117 The pamphlets for families in the Philippines and
Spain encouraged Americans to venture off military bases to join local
people in religious worship, sports, theaters, movie houses, and festivals.
The guide for France instructed readers to wait for French acquaintances
to make hospitable overtures, but to promptly acknowledge and return
such hospitality.118
The literature advocated involvement in community organizations as
another way for women and children to project American friendliness and
the spirit of international cooperation. The expectation of military organizations that women contribute to community projects stemmed from a
history of wives volunteer efforts on behalf of armed forces goals. Furthermore, since the arrival of service families overseas in 1946, wives had
on their own initiative formed groups to aid residents of occupied and
host nations. The Army guide assumed that spouses and children of personnel enjoyed more free time overseas than in the United States because many families employed domestic workers, and because there were
fewer diversions such as television and playgrounds to occupy childrens
time. The guide urged family members to use their spare time profitably
by volunteering for social welfare programs that benefited military personnel and host nationals or by joining clubs. Suggestions included participating in womens clubs, teen clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Germany Youth Activities program, Christmas toy projects, hobby clubs, and
various cultural groups. The guide informed the reader that You will find
your work as a volunteer also provides many avenues for friendship and
information not otherwise open to an American in a foreign land.119 The
pamphlet for the United Kingdom advised service wives to work alongside
the Britisha civic-minded people [who . . .] have many organizations
that parallel the better known American service clubs and associations
in groups such as the Womens Voluntary Service, the British Red Cross,
St. Johns Ambulance Association, the Womens Institute for those who
resided in villages, and the Townswomens Guild for women in urban
The official prescriptive literature tells us how the armed forces wanted
78 Unofficial Ambassadors

American military families to conduct themselves, not what they actually

did. The guides no doubt responded to and tried to deter undesirable attitudes and behavior frequently exhibited by Americansinconsideration
for local customs, inappropriate dress, use of vulgar language. But the
advice also discloses assumptions about how members of military families could help to gain local peoples acceptance of the U.S. military presence, as well as project an appealing image of Americans and thereby gain
respect and admiration for the United States as well as support for its
The guidebooks reveal as much if not more concern for the image of
the United States conveyed by Americans abroad as for the impact of
the U.S. military on host nations. Does this mean that the armed forces
were more concerned with superficial displays of American courtesy and
good will toward host nationals than with deeper relations and policies
that tangibly benefited local peoples? Distributing advice to exhibit respect and friendliness in everyday relations certainly was simple and inexpensive compared to official programs that required more planning
and resources. Nonetheless, the influence of individual Americans abroad
should not be underestimated. As historian John Kasson has shown in his
study of manners in the nineteenth century, displays of courtesy are not
merely empty formalities, but rather are inextricably tied to larger political, social, and cultural contexts and their ramifications extend deep
into human relations.121 Furthermore, although U.S. interests and objectives would have been the top priority of American civilian and military
officials, they did not necessarily see their nations interests as unconnected to those of the host nations. Cold War military and foreign relations assumed that maintaining the power of the United States against
communist rivals benefited allies as well as Americans. Finally, even those
officials who did not harbor lofty ideals of international understanding
and cooperation between Americans with the armed forces and local citizens at a minimum would have wanted interactions to go smoothly and
the military to conduct its activities without disruption from problems
caused by inconsiderate Americans.

In the postWorld War II climatemostly internationalist, decidedly anticommunistU.S. leaders wanted to project American ideals of democracy and freedom and counter impressions of their country and its military as power-hungry and intent only on self-serving domination of other
nations rather than international cooperation for the betterment of all
Unofficial Ambassadors 79

humanity. In the fierce combat of the Cold War, Americans believed that
winning the war against worldwide communism depended on a powerful
military, international involvement, and nuclear families. When families
joined servicemen overseas after World War II, the armed forces identified
uses for them in the occupations, and also constructed a vision of families as powerful weapons in the Cold War defense arsenal. Army, Air
Force, and Navy authorities expected them to bolster the morale of servicemen and thereby maximize military readiness. Abroad, they urged
families to make the U.S. military presence more tolerable to residents of
occupied and host nations and to promote successful international relations through informal social and cultural exchanges. Nevertheless, the
armed forces did not draw on the full potential of family members to aid
U.S. foreign relations goals. It would be military wives, often working on
their own, outside of military supervision, who envisioned and carried out
creative ways to make connections with local peoples and help further advance what they perceived as their countrys international objectives.

80 Unofficial Ambassadors

A U.S. Ladys World

On November 2, 1960, Democratic presidential nominee John

F. Kennedy proposed a government-sponsored Peace Corps that arose
from a vision of the United States as a humanitarian, democratic world
leader desirous of selflessly assisting the poorest peoples of less powerful
and privileged nations. The idea excited Americans. Over the next three
months, thousands wrote letters asking how they could join, and a Gallup
Poll reported that seventy-one percent of those questioned supported Kennedys proposal.1 The idea of a U.S. government-sponsored body of American volunteers striving with peoples at the grassroots level to better their
societies expressed the deep wish of Americans to see their country not
only as a militarily and economically dominant power that used its
strength to serve national self-interest, but also as a noble, beneficent force
for aiding humankind.2
In response to Kennedys inauguration and the impending creation of
the Peace Corps, U.S. Lady editors Alvadee and John Adams wrote in
their February 1961 editorial that military wives abroad possessed extensive experience in volunteer foreign aid and had already constituted a
Peace Corps since 1946, when American military families first arrived
in Germany.3 The editorial struck a chord with readers. A letter to the editors signed by Mrs. Bob Pennington stated that wives and children of
the military are peace corps natural[s]. In another letter, Marie Nasch
declared that American military wives were LADY diplomats and
the finest, most gracious Peace Corps any country could ask for. Nasch
entreated Kennedy to use military wives in the Peace Corps: Put us in the
picture, Mr. President. Weve been there all this time, but no one has noticed us except our thousands of foreign friends who have said sayonara,
auf wiedersehen, au revoir, and what have you, with tears in their eyes.
Nasch, whose husband would soon retire from the military, volunteered
her own services.4
Many military wives, like Peace Corps volunteers, tried to embody the
post World War II ideal of humanitarian internationalism.5 They
sought to establish international alliances based on friendship, coopera81

tion, and assistance to peoples in need. Mrs. Pennington pointed out that
military wives possessed the necessary skills as well as the international
perspective required of Peace Corps volunteers: We have so many persons qualified to helpnurses, teachers, and wives who love our noble
country and are willing to fight in any way they can to keep it free, and to
show and help others to keep their freedom.6 While their husbands represented official military authority and power, many military wives took
the initiative to project and promote the compassion, friendliness, and
what one wife termed feminine good will they believed necessary to
build Cold War alliances and maintain world peace.7
As historian Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman astutely notes, it is not by accident that the creation of the Peace Corps coincided with the height of U.S.
Cold War military power. The exercise of power, she states, calls forth
a compensatory impulse. Even before the creation of the United States,
colonists saw the society they were creating in the New World as exceptional and exemplary. Americans vision of their nation as a model for the
rest of the world carried into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and
served as a fundamental reason for their reluctance to become entangled
in foreign conflicts, unless they considered their self-interest to be directly
at stake: the United States was morally upright and prosperous because it
did not become embroiled in Old World-style rivalries and intrigues.8 Yet
in the twentieth century, the more the United States became involved in international turmoilthe Great War, World War II, the Cold Warthe
more powerful it became, and the more Americans vigorously advanced
the high-minded notion of their nation as the moral leader of the world.
Military wives efforts to help peoples of occupied and host nations, like
the Peace Corps, represented sincere efforts to do good for those who
were less privileged than Americans, while helping to ease Americans discomfort with and even morally justify their nations global dominance.
The most prominent of the unofficial ambassador wives were white
officers wives, many of whose husbands were making a career of military
service. Like many Americans of the early Cold War era, they envisioned
themselves as participants in the battle against communism. These women
personified the complexity of U.S. global leadership in the first two decades of the Cold War. Their efforts to assist and befriend peoples of other
nations meshed with U.S. military and foreign policy objectives to help rebuild nations wrecked by war, whether friend or foe, in ways that were in
line with the perceived self-interest of the United States. As wielders of
soft power, service wives attempted to represent American values and
ideals in ways that the hard-power U.S. military presence abroad could
not, yet all the while buttressing their nations global supremacy and military might. American women who performed charity work, adopted chil82 A U.S. Ladys World

dren, joined international womens clubs, and invited local people into
their homes considered themselves sincere conveyers of American warmth
and generosity, and simultaneously served U.S. international interests.
This chapter examines womens articulations of the ambassadorial role
for military wives, their accounts of encounters with residents of occupied
and host nations (mainly in Europe and Asia), and their perspectives on
their contributions to international relations. Their advice literature and
accounts of interactions with local residents illuminate womens agency in
cultivating international good will and promoting their visions of American values and ways abroad. Many wives who took to heart the unofficial
ambassador role urged upon them by the armed forces did not merely follow the instructions provided in the military advice manuals. Under their
own initiative, they imagined ways to reach out to local peoples, and enterprisingly enacted these. Although conditions varied by locale, women
engaged in similar activities at bases worldwide. Their accounts of their
interactions with residents of occupied and host nations both provide evidence of the scope and nature of these encounters and illuminate the conception of international relations that guided their activities. While endeavoring to befriend local peoples and show respect for their cultures
and customs, they attempted to demonstrate the alleged superiority of the
American way of life, including American family relations, gender roles,
and home lifea task that could pose challenges, given the shortcomings
in some housing for military families, the undemocratic treatment of fellow Americans in military communities, and the domestic problems that
some families faced.
To understand why it was white officers wives who took the lead in
advising and serving as role models for military wives in their encounters
with local peoples, it is first necessary to examine the gender roles, racial
composition of, and rank among families in military communities, and
military cultures expectations of officers wives.

Gender, Race, and Rank in Military Families Abroad

Although racial and class biases certainly contributed to the conception of
white officers wives as model emissaries, an examination of the demographics of military personnel and their families further explains the
prominence of these women. That in virtually all military families the service member was a man was a phenomenon resulting not only from
deeply rooted cultural assumptions that womens roles as wives and
mothers were incompatible with military service, and from the conscription of men, but also from policies that made it difficult or impossible for
A U.S. Ladys World 83

married women or women with children to serve in the armed forces.

During World War II, 350,000 women served in the military, but were not
allowed to reenlist if they married. Bans on married women entering the
military stood until the mid-1960s. After the war (except early in the Korean War), single enlisted women were permitted to leave the military
upon marrying, and many did. Women in the military were far less likely
to have dependents than male personnel, in large part because the government made it burdensome or impossible for mothers and female heads of
household to remain in service or receive the same family benefits as male
personnel. In 1951, President Harry Truman signed an executive order allowing the armed forces to terminate any female member who was pregnant or a parent (biological or adoptive) to a child under the age of eighteen. The Department of Defense announced the suspension of this policy
in 1974, making it effective as of May 1975, though the Army resisted it
for years afterward.9
The vast majority of armed forces personnel were white, as were their
spouses and children. In 1960, the census categorized almost 90.1 percent
of all armed forces personnel abroad as white, and the remainder (9.9 percent) as nonwhite.10 These percentages closely correspond to the percentages by race of families members abroad. Of the 462,504 armed forces
dependents living abroad, 90.9 percent were described as white, and
6.1 percent as negro; the remaining three percent fell into the categories American Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and other
races (see table). Almost all armed forces personnel abroad were male:
approximately 99.2% (605,140) were men, and less than one percent
(5,034) were women.11 The census reported that there were 164,290
wives of military personnel living abroad; 143,405 female children under
age eighteen; 150,820 male children under age eighteen; and 1,004 parents of military personnel (711 female and 293 male).12 Thus, military
dependents were predominantly white and female.
Because the vast majority of officers at overseas bases in the 1950s
were white, it is likely that a similar proportion of their wives also were
white. Although at least ten percent of overseas Army personnel were
African-American, a disproportionately smaller percentage were officers.
As of November 1955, nearly 45,000 African-American Army personnel
(eleven percent of all Army members) served in overseas commands, but
only 1,294 (three percent) of this group were officers.13 Under-representation of blacks as officers in the armed forces persisted into the 1960s. In
1965, African Americans accounted for only 3.5 percent of Army officers,
1.6 percent of Air Force officers, .3 percent of Navy officers, and .4 percent of Marine Corps officers.14
Furthermore, during and after World War II, armed forces officials
84 A U.S. Ladys World

Race of Family Members of U.S. Military

Personnel Abroad in 1960
American Indian
Other races





Source: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the

Census, United States Census of Population 1960, Selected Area
Reports, Americans Overseas (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964), Table 2, Social Characteristics of the
United States Civilian Population Abroad, by Type: 1960, p. 3.

avoided sending individual African-American personnel, or black units, to

certain areas abroad, thus maintaining a disproportionately white military
in these places. During the war, black Army units did not serve in China
although individual African Americans were allowed to form up to fifteen
percent of a unit stationed there. Between the end of the war and the early
1950s, U.S. military and state officials were reluctant to send blacks to
certain stations, including Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Bermuda,
the British possessions in the Caribbean, the Panama Canal Zone, the
Azores, and Turkey. In some cases, host country officials requested the exclusion of African-American soldiers. In others, U.S. officials claimed that
host nationals attitudes toward African Americans could harm the morale of black soldiers. In 1951, when the chief of the military mission in
Turkey asked that the Army reevaluate its plan to send African-American
personnel there, professing that Turks would not want this, Army officials
canceled the assignment.15 The exclusion of African-American personnel
from certain foreign stations would have limited the number of AfricanAmerican military families overseas.
Rank, like race, played a role in determining which families joined servicemen abroad. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the low morale of service personnel abroad, pressure to end family separation, and
fears about the recruitment and reenlistment of sufficient numbers of personnel had pushed military planners to devise policies that allowed most
armed forces members to apply for government-funded overseas transportation and housing for spouses and children. During the 1950s and
1960s, however, enough men and women volunteers and selected draftees
joined the armed forces that policymakers decided they could place constraints on sending families of the lowest-ranking personnel abroad without risking military necessity. Limits placed on overseas transportation
A U.S. Ladys World 85

and housing for families of the lowest four grades of enlisted personnel,
regardless of race, meant that higher-ranking service members were far
more likely to have their families with them at foreign bases. In 1946, military planners had allowed most personnel willing to remain at an overseas station for at least one year after the arrival of their family members
to apply for overseas transportation and housing for their spouses and
children. An applicants commitment to remain at an overseas post for at
least one year, and the length of service abroad since 1941, determined
priority. By the late 1940s, however, the services placed restrictions on the
families of the lowest grades of enlisted personnel (e.g., privates, airmen,
seamen). These restrictions did not apply to the senior grades of enlisted
personnel (e.g., sergeants in the Army and Air Force). The services would
not transport the family members of the lowest grades of enlisted personnel to overseas commands or make military housing available to them, citing concerns that these men could not financially support their families in
foreign countries. Also, the serious shortage of quarters at many overseas
bases, as well as the expense to the U.S. government of sending and maintaining families abroad, compelled military planners to find ways to control the inflow of families, and so the privilege of being allowed to bring
ones family to an overseas station at government expense accrued to
those in the middle and higher ranks. In most cases, enlisted personnel
willing and able to finance overseas transportation for family members
and find nonmilitary housing for them were permitted to do so. Such
families resided off-base but were allowed to use military facilities such
as commissaries and post exchanges.16 In January 1961, an estimated
20,000 unauthorized military dependents, wives following their husbands resided abroad.17

Officers Wives as Leaders and Role Models

Military culture expected all wives to aid the armed forces by taking care
of husbands and homes, and, if possible, by engaging in military community activities. Nancy Shea, the author of several etiquette books published between the 1940s and 1960s for service wives, declared that the
fundamental responsibility of each wife was to tend to home, family, and
most importantly, her husbands morale. In addition to these basic duties,
Shea encouraged all women to perform unpaid work that aided the military community. She informed wives of enlisted men that they, like wives
of higher-ranking personnel, should participate in wives clubs and other
military community activities, for instance, by volunteering at military

86 A U.S. Ladys World

hospitals, assisting newly arrived families, and performing charity work

off base.18
Assumptions that wives did not need paid employment because husbands supported them and the children, combined with the difficulty of
finding jobs abroad, would have reinforced the expectation that unemployed wives should volunteer their services for the benefit of military
communities. Of overseas female military dependents ages eighteen and
over (most of whom would have been the wives of military personnel)
whose employment status was recorded in the 1960 census, a staggering
ninety-three percent were not employed. Of these women, seventy-one
percent had been employed at some point since 1950, a large majority
(70.6 percent) in clerical, sales, service, or operative work, although
twelve percent (8,415) were classified as Professional, technical, and kindred workers.19 Presumably, then, many of the women who were unemployed would have been interested in paid work had it been available to
them. Military wives living abroad who might have taken jobs if residing
in the United States found that in many overseas locales, the U.S. military
had made agreements with host countries to provide jobs to local nationals, thus limiting American womens opportunities. In 1961, when the
Kennedy administration was seeking solutions to the United States balance of payments problem, a lieutenant stationed in Germany wrote to
the president that Many Officers and Enlisted Men have wives who are
seeking work very badly, including his own wife, who had experience
as a bookkeeper. Every bank, PX, Commissary, QM Sales Store, EES,
and all of the Service Branches hire German tellers, bookkeepers, sales
girls, clerks, typists, and many many other types of individuals, he complained, thus in his view depriving American women of jobs and draining U.S. gold reserves.20 Language differences, as well as host nation and
U.S. employment policies, would have made it difficult or impossible for
American women to attain paid employment in host countries.
Although all wives were expected to do unpaid work for the benefit
of military communities, a wifes responsibilities pyramided as her husband advanced in rank. Wives of noncommissioned officers, according to
Nancy Shea, were to act as models for wives of lower-ranking enlisted
men. She stated that the wife of a master sergeanta noncommissioned
officer of the highest enlisted gradeshould serve as a leader among
wives and concern herself with the well-being of other service families.
Shea instructed officers wives to take on many more responsibilities than
those assigned to wives of enlisted personnel. The wife of an Air Force
squadron commander, for example, was to organize social activities such
as picnics, barbecues, and family visits to sites of military operations; call

A U.S. Ladys World 87

upon new families; arrange luncheons, teas, coffees, and business meetings with other officers wives; and create a committee to aid the families
of squadron members in case of an emergency.21
Many officers wives contributed to activities that benefited military
communities because they enjoyed the camaraderie and believed that their
social contacts and public service would help their husbands careers.
Mary Jane Vann had initially worried about raising a family in Army life.
Her activities with the wives of high-ranking officers (headed by the commanding generals wife), older women who coached the younger wives,
helped alleviate her concerns. The womens group activities gave her a
sense of community and security. She relished the volunteer work, dinners, dances, and bridge parties organized by the wives, and appreciated
the kindly guidance of the wives of her husbands superiors. Vann also
prided herself that her activities assisted her husbands military career.22
Wives of men who did not plan to make a career of the military would
have been less invested in joining the social circle of those committed to
the armed forces for the long term.
Officers wives felt pressured to join in military community activities
whether or not they wanted to do so. Many did not hold paying jobs; military culture discouraged officers wives from such employment because
of the assumption that the military establishment required these womens
unpaid participation, and some wives who held jobs were pressured to
quit them.23 The commanding officers wife tried to ensure that all officers wives joined the wives club, attended meetings, and signed up for
volunteer work. Writing under a pen-name, an author introduced as the
wife of a Marine colonel offered a semihumorous account of how senior
wives kept women busy: There are committees for teas, luncheons, charities, dances, Gray Ladies, Nurses Aides, flower shows, canteens, thrift
shops, and committees to stir up committees. You are never ordered to
do any of these things. You are asked kindly and politely. . . . Youre
too busy? Perhaps you dont realize the importance of a wife to a mans
military career?24 Military leaders also demanded the attendance of
wives at clubs, dances, and cocktail parties, all of which upheld the social
structure of military communities. Even women bored by club meetings,
card games, and parties dutifully participated, sensing that not conforming to expectations could harm their husbands chances for promotions.
Wives who resisted the push to join the base groups risked reproach and
Higher-ups in the military indeed assessed wives when considering
prominent personnel assignments. A 1963 document that discussed updating the Navys fitness report to evaluate the suitability of the officer
and his family [specifically, his wife] for assignment to responsible posi88 A U.S. Ladys World

tions as representatives of the Service and the Nation stated that the
practice had existed since the very beginning of the Navy but was now
especially important due to more frequent international contacts. The
Navys intention in updating its fitness report for personnel was to obtain
more fair and objective evaluations in determining the suitability of a
married couple for social and diplomatic contact with the officials and
people of our own and foreign countries, rather than relying on rumors
to ascertain how successful the Officer-Wife Team would prove. In
making the case for amending the fitness report, the document claimed
that most wives have been strongly in favor of the joint assessment and
some even thought that the children of the family should be included as
In fulfilling the roles of unpaid employee for the military and leader of
women married to lower-ranking personnel, officers wives reinforced
rank and class hierarchies. For the most part, wives did not socialize extensively across ranks. Besides the physical separation of families by
grade, military culture shaped womens association with one another.
Nancy Shea professed that there is no rank among women unless they
are members of the Armed Forces. In reality, wives status in military
communities indeed corresponded to that of their husbands. Women in
the higher tiers of a military community were expected to guide and act
as exemplars for the women whose husbands served in lower ranks, without becoming too friendly with them. Officers wives checked their interactions with the wives of lower-ranking personnel. A commanding officers wife advised her peers not to behave like one of the girls or in a
cheap good-fellow manner. Other wives of commanding officers agreed
that dignity and avoidance of intimate entanglements among superior
and subordinate should characterize service wives relations across the
ranks. The fiction that wives have no rank can be interpreted as a message to wives that because they did not officially work for the armed
forces, they should not make demands on the military for themselves or
their families.27
Armed forces policy limiting government-funded travel and access to
housing to the families of personnel above the lowest ranks, and the structure of base housing areas, also encouraged the segregation of wives and
families by rank. Because those families in the lowest ranks of enlisted
personnel who could afford to come abroad had to obtain off-base housing, they were less likely to mix with families of higher ranking personnel
and receive encouragement from officers wives to engage in intercultural
interactions with local people. Residence in off-base neighborhoods, however, actually might have increased the likelihood of daily contacts between these families and non-Americans. On-base living arrangements
A U.S. Ladys World 89

that grouped families according to the status of service members also encouraged separation by rank. Although larger families received roomier
quarters than smaller families, grade and length of service also influenced
housing assignments. A colonels family was not likely to live next door to
a sergeants family.28
In addition, military culture did not pressure the wives of enlisted personnel to engage in the kinds of activities that involved encounters with
occupied and host nation residentsvolunteer work, teas, womens club
meetingsexpected of officers wives. For this reason, along with other
cultural and physical barriers, officers wives who shouldered the unofficial ambassador role tended to socialize with other officers wives more
than with enlisted mens wives, and to encourage wives in their own peer
groups to work on fostering friendly relations with local peoples.

Military Wives Advice Literature and Concerns about

Although families began arriving at foreign posts in 1946, advice literature by women addressing relations with non-Americans abroad remained
sparse until the mid-1950s. Military wives (most notably Nancy Shea)
had written advice books for women since the early 1940s, but these contained few or no guidelines on encounters between Americans and local
peoples abroad.29 As the number of family members living overseas multiplied fivefold between 1950 and 1960, the prescriptive literature on relations between Americans and people in various countries burgeoned.30
For the wives who undertook the ambassadorial role, their job included encouraging other wives to do the same. Whereas official personnel received instruction from supervisors, wives received direction from
orientations for families, official military prescriptive literature, and other
wives. In describing their experiences abroad in published accounts,
women presented examples of ideal interactions with local peoples for
other military families. Military wives personal accounts of interactions
with people abroad appeared in published books and popular magazines
(e.g., Saturday Evening Post); the richest source of such accounts is the
magazine U.S. Lady.
Military wives accounts of their experiences with occupied and host
nation residents, and their advice to other wives on forging positive relations abroad, indicate a sensitivity to negative images of the United States
and its people. As part of the U.S. military presence abroad, many wives
made self-conscious efforts to avoid provoking resentment by local people
and to counter stereotypes of Americans as rude, insensitive, and materi90 A U.S. Ladys World

alistic. Dorothy House Vieman arrived in South Korea in April 1949 to

join her Army officer-husband posted there with the U.S. Military Advisory Group. Back in the United States, she published an account of her experiences in Korea, put together from letters she had written to her family
in Texas while in Asia. Her books introduction expressed strong concern
about, and intended to rectify, American attitudes and actions that would
alienate would-be Cold War allies:
Will America continue in her mistaken philosophy of trying to win
friends and influence people by buying them and advocating that her way
of life is the only way for them? Will she eventually learn, perhaps too
late, that friendship cannot be won by diplomats over the cocktail table
or by riding herd over the servants in the kitchen or by the American
attitude of superiority?31

Viemans criticisms of the U.S. governments economic inducements to

foreign nations, the American superiority complex, and diplomats socializing with elites at cocktail parties instead of mingling with and getting to
know ordinary local peoples presaged the argument made by the authors
of the best-selling novel The Ugly American (1958), who charged that
U.S. foreign policy and officials were out of touch with the thinking and
needs of average Asians, and that such negligence and ignorance imperiled
the containment of communism and even pushed potential allies into the
enemy camp. Although the books title is actually an ironic appellation for
one of the heroes of the story, the term ugly American came to denote
Americans who disgraced the United States and damaged international relations by behaving boorishly abroad.32
Criticism and ridicule of U.S. policies and American culture and society
by foreign observers stretched back to the nations founding and took numerous and sometimes complicated forms. During the Civil War, for example, many in France condemned the South for clinging to slavery and
yet rooted for the Confederacy, viewing the Union as an economic exploiter of its southern brethren.33 In the next century, the Cold War expansion of U.S. power provoked outcries from citizens of allied and adversarial nations who feared U.S. domination, although the disparagement was never monolithic or universal. Moreover, one must keep in
mind that positive views of the United States and its people were also
common, even among people in countries such as those in Latin America
that had been subjected to U.S. military intervention and economic dominance. Indeed, in many countries, anti- and pro-American camps coexisted, divided by generational attitudes, political leanings, economic interests, socioeconomic class and education, religious beliefs, regionin
A U.S. Ladys World 91

short, on local social-cultural-political contexts, as well as Americans actions at home and in the larger world. And many people around the world
harbored mixed feelings toward the United States for instance, the
young people who admired American democracy and selectively enjoyed
American popular cultural products (e.g., wearing blue jeans and listening to rock n roll, but resisting Coca-Cola) while opposing certain U.S.
foreign policies. Many people liked individual Americans they encountered but despised what they perceived as U.S. militarism and economic
In Japan and West Germany in the 1950s, where the U.S. military presence was largest, local people held mixed views of the United States. The
U.S. occupations of Japan and West Germany were considered by many
Americans as well as citizens of those countries to have been successful in
establishing democracy and aiding in the construction of thriving capitalist systems, and in cultivating Japan and West Germany as loyal allies of
the United States in the Cold War. Still, many Japanese and Germans were
ambivalent toward, if not severely critical, of U.S. power, and attitudes
could shift over short periods of time. A 1950 national survey asking Japanese whether their nation should be pro-American, pro-Soviet, or neutral reported that fifty-five percent of respondents favored the United
States, twenty-two percent favored neutrality, and less than one percent
were pro-Soviet. The same poll taken in 1953, a year after the end of the
occupation, reported that now only thirty-five percent of respondents
were pro-American, while neutralists rose to thirty-eight percent, although pro-Soviet attitudes remained low at one percent. Thus, while the
Japanese in 1953 remained far more pro-American than pro-Soviet, the
tendency to favor the U.S. alliance dropped significantly between 1950
and 1953. A 1957 poll that inquired into the Japanese peoples chief objections to U.S. policy compared responses in Osaka and Izumo to provide an extreme urban-rural contrast. This poll listed the top criticism as
the selfish, superior attitude of U.S. policy (twenty-three percent of responses in Osaka, fifteen percent in Izumo), with military bases in second place (ten percent for Osaka, nine percent for Izumo), and nuclear
weapons tests running third (five percent for Osaka and four percent for
Izumo).35 A variety of polls conducted between 1950 and 1958 found that
Japanese support of U.S. bases in Japan fell from thirty percent in 1950 to
eight percent in 1958. In other words, support of the bases was not overwhelming in 1950 (during the occupation), and drastically declined in the
years after the occupation ended. Socialists were the harshest critics of the
U.S. military presence (a fact that U.S. policymakers tended to exaggerate
when discussing their nations armed forces in Japan), although the ma-

92 A U.S. Ladys World

jority of Liberal-Democratic voters (the dominant political party) also

wanted the removal of U.S. air and naval forces.36
West Germans tended to be more positive toward the United States and
its military presence in their country, decidedly so when asked to choose
between the Americans and the Soviets. A May/June 1954 poll found that
sixty-two percent considered a good relationship with the United States
more important for the future of the German people, in contrast to
only ten percent who preferred a good relationship with the Soviet Union.
In response to the question posed in 1955 of whether the presence of U.S.
forces was more advantageous or disadvantageous for Germans, 41.2 percent considered it advantageous, while 15.2 percent thought it disadvantageous. Indeed, attitudes about the U.S. military presence seem to have
grown more positive among West Germans between the mid-1950s and
the late 1960s. In July 1956, fifty-one percent of those polled by the Allensbach Institute said that they would approve the withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Europe, but in April 1969, at a time when the Vietnam War
made the U.S. military highly unpopular around the world, only seventeen
percent of Germans interviewed would want U.S. forces to leave Europe,
with fifty-six percent disapproving (and twenty-seven percent undecided).
A poll measuring fondness for Americans in general shows that at various intervals the percentages of Germans who liked Americans always significantly outweighed those who disliked them. The fondness increased
between January 1957, with only thirty-seven percent of respondents saying they liked Americans (and twenty-four percent selecting the response
Dont especially like them), and May 1965, with fifty-eight percent
claiming that they liked Americans, as opposed to nineteen percent who
did not. The percentages of those who liked Americans peaked in 1965
and 1966.37 Cold War tensions in the late 1950s and early 1960s and
fears of Soviet encroachment, in Berlin for instance, contributed to West
Germans increased acceptance of the U.S. military presence and favorable
attitudes toward Americans.
Military wives published accounts of their experiences abroad and
their advice to other women shared numerous characteristics in addition
to a sensitivity to anti-Americanism. Many wives wrote that they experienced apprehension as well as excitement in anticipating their journey to
a new land. They recountedsometimes with humor, sometimes with humilitythe challenging process of encountering new peoples and strange
landscapes and ways, and growing to appreciate and respect new communities as they learned about them. They told of interactions with local
peoplechildren and adults, domestic workers, vendors, neighborsand
of how they strove to understand their perspectives and values, while

A U.S. Ladys World 93

helping them to better understand Americans. Most wives accounts depicted the U.S. military presence as more beneficial than harmful to local
peoples in that it protected them against communist forces and helped
them to improve their standards of living. In detailing their experiences
abroad, the authors not only portrayed interesting and vibrant other
worlds for their American audiences, but also presented model attitudes
and behaviors for their readers. These accounts also served as justifications for maintaining American military families abroad at a time when
taxpayers at home complained of the costs, and presidential administrations worried about the outflow of U.S. gold reserves to foreign countries.
The military wife-authors sought to show that families were abroad not
merely to improve servicemens morale, but perhaps even more important
to make friends for the United States and gain support for U.S. military
bases and policies.

U.S. Lady Magazine

U.S. Lady magazine, first published in 1955, vigorously promoted the role
of military wives serving as unofficial ambassadors in host nations and respecting cultural diversity, despite its creation by a man who would a few
years later found the American Nazi Party. George Lincoln Rockwell
started U.S. Lady as a money-making venture after his discharge from the
Naval Reserves. It was never an official military publication, although it
sometimes published essays and announcements sponsored by the armed
forces. Although the magazine attracted advertisers and proved profitable,
Rockwells conflicts with partners and financial backers led him to sell it
in 1956 after publishing only four issues. Rockwell formed the American
Nazi Party in 1958 and grew increasingly notorious thereafter, prompting
the publisher-editors who took over from Rockwell to tell readers in 1965
that they had no association with him. Alvadee and John Adams, both
civilian journalists, stated that they had known little of Rockwell when
they purchased U.S. Lady from him (and other stockholders) in 1956, and
had known nothing of his extremist political views. The Adamses assured
readers that they denounced racism and fascism, that they staunchly
supported civil rights for all citizens, and that Rockwell had no connection with the magazine after selling it to the Adamses.38 Rockwell in fact
complained in his anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, anti-communist,
and anti-left autobiographythat the women on the U.S. Lady staff during his brief association with the magazine overwhelm[ed] him and effectively undermined his control of the publication. And he blamed the
Jews for his failure to maintain ownership of U.S. Lady.39
94 A U.S. Ladys World

U.S. Lady under the control of Rockwell and then the Adamses did not
preach racism or anti-Semitism (biographer William Schmaltz writes that
the magazine was an inadequate vehicle for [Rockwells] anti-Jewish beliefs).40 The publication, which reached thousands of subscribers and
which the Adamses described as global-circulating, took a culturalhumanitarian-internationalist outlook that was also definitely anti-communist and generally supportive of U.S. foreign policies, although mild
criticisms of U.S. military policies (particularly those considered detrimental to military families) did occasionally appear.41 Despite its oft-professed
respect for cultural diversity, however, U.S. Lady reinforced the assumption that the model ambassador of feminine good will, embodied by the
dozens of U.S. Ladies-of-the-Month lauded in the magazine between
1955 and 1968, was an officers wife, white, and U.S.-born. In 1956, the
U.S. Lady-of-the-Month Selection Board comprised the spouses of many
of the nations highest-ranking military and federal government officials:
the wives of the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Army, Secretary
of the Navy, Secretary of the Air Force, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff of the US Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the
Marine Corps, and Commandant of the Coast Guard. Wives of more ordinary servicemen rounded out the board: the wives of an Air Force Reserves captain, a Marine Corps Reserves staff sergeant, a chief petty officer (Navy), another chief petty officer (Naval Reserve), an Army master
sergeant, an Air Force master sergeant, and a widow of a Marine Corps
technical sergeant.42 Between June 1956 and April 1968 (the final issue of
U.S. Lady), members of the board changed, but the board continued to
include the wives of high-ranking military officials as well as spouses of
lower-ranking personnel.
Out of all of the U.S. Ladies-of-the-Month honored between 1955
and 1968, only one African-American woman received recognition. Mary
Lee Harvey, the wife of an Air Force major, volunteered in an Air Force
hospital in Ankara, Turkey, and in a variety of activities (especially for
children) in the military community. The 1963 U.S. Lady article that pronounced Harvey a U.S. Lady-of-the-Month did not mention whether
she engaged in social or cultural exchanges with Turks, though it did state
that she escorted her children and others on excursions into the Turkish countryside where they surely encountered host nationals.43 Perhaps
Harveys numerous responsibilities on the Air Force base limited the time
she could spend in host national communities; or perhaps the author of
the article did not conceive of her as an unofficial ambassador, although most descriptions of U.S. Lady-of-the-Month honorees who
lived abroad included some mention of the womens participation in offbase activities that put them in contact with local people. Despite the fact
A U.S. Ladys World 95

that African Americans constituted a significant proportion of the armed

forces, articles, photographs, and even mention of African Americans in
U.S. Lady appeared only occasionally before the early 1960s, and remained sparse in contrast to coverage of white service wives until the
magazine ceased publication in 1968. Pictorial evidence in U.S. Lady
from the early 1960s onward indicates that African-American women
participated in overseas wives clubs (mainly for noncommissioned officers wives), but the magazine provided little information about these
women individually. In the view of those who defined womens unofficial
ambassadorial duties, white officers wives best represented the American
military community.
Although the editors of and contributors to U.S. Lady claimed that
their publication addressed all wives regardless of rank, its title and content suggested otherwise. The designation ladies in the military community conventionally referred to officers wives, while the spouses of enlisted men were simply termed wives.44 Thus, the term lady in the
magazines title would have reinforced assumptions that the intended audience was officers wives. In letters to the editors, readers of U.S. Lady
occasionally criticized what they perceived as the magazines slant toward
officers wives, suggesting that enlisted mens wives who read the magazine wanted to participate in military culture but felt excluded.45 Although U.S. Lady aired such complaints, the focus on officers wives did
not substantially change.
A concept frequently articulated in U.S. Lady was that women were
both helpmates to servicemen-husbands and soft-power resources in U.S.
international relations who augmented U.S. hard power. At a time when
world leaders are engaged in meeting one crisis after another, women pray
for peace and work in the kindly way they know best to back up their
men, declared the editors of U.S. Lady. They are living history and making history, and just like the million-man armies and complicated weapons, they too pack quite a wallop.46 In a letter to U.S. Lady, Army wife
Routh Trowbridge Wilby declared that American womens influence
their feminine good willwas crucial for strong international relations.
She argued that economic assistance alone (an inducement that lies closer
to hard power than soft power on the hard-power/soft-power spectrum,
according to Joseph Nye) could not secure other nations alliances with
the United States because recipients considered such impersonal aid crass
and manipulative, as if the more prosperous Americans were trying to buy
the allegiance of less powerful countries that accepted financial help out
of necessity rather than a sense of shared goals with the United States.
Along with numerous others who expressed similar opinions, Wilby believed that interpersonal relations conveying American sincerity and good
96 A U.S. Ladys World

will should accompany large-scale economic assistance to foreign countries, and that women were ideal representatives in such encounters.47
Advice and examples for would-be ambassador-wives appeared in the
form of statements by the editors, readers letters to the editors, articles,
short fiction, and visual representations. Military wives authored most of
these items, though sometimes articles composed by servicemen or servicewomen appeared. A U.S. Ladys World, a full-page image of a military wife and a description of her multiple levels of responsibility that appeared in 1956, illustrates assumptions that military wives were part of
a bigger defense team and that their domestic, feminine activities were
not only important within their families and communities, but also integral to the success of national and international goals. Author Jean Andrew, an Army wife, presented a drawing of a woman smartly clad in a
skirt suit, hat, gloves, and pumpsproper public apparel denoting a wellbred middle-class womanholding hands with a young girl. The woman
a service wife and mother and a U.S. Ladyand the girl, who are
both turned away from the reader, stand before a globe ensphered by arrows pointing to regions worldwide. This type of portrayal of Americans
in relation to the rest of the world, signifying U.S. global supremacy, appeared frequently after World War II. In the U.S. Lady illustration, the
leadership in this sphere of influence is feminine: the womans and girls
perusal of the globe, with the United States at its center, depicts the world
as their domain; there is even an air of window-shopping in their demeanor, suggesting that the globe is theirs for the taking, although they
might also be cautiously pondering the consequences of such an acquisition. To the right of this image is a column of written text that delineates
the numerous realms in which service wives were considered important
participants, spanning a spectrum that ranged from The World Itself, to
the United States, to the armed forces, down to their communities and
families. In this vision, women were simultaneously domestic, public, and
international figures; their activities as wives and mothers served as the
foundation for the local community, the military community, and international relations, and all were interconnected.48 Jean Andrews fifteen years
as an Army wife and her experience as an officer in the Navy WAVES
(Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) no doubt informed
her vision of women as actors in national and international affairs.49 The
document A U.S. Ladys World recognized and encouraged wives who
contributed to military and international aims while also reminding them
of their numerous areas of responsibility.
Illustrations, articles, books, and other items by and for military wives
defined realms where women were particularly responsible for advancing
friendly relations between Americans and local peoples. Americans worA U.S. Ladys World 97

A U.S. Ladys World, by Jean Andrew, an Army wife, appeared in U.S. Lady in 1956.

ried that servicemens involvement in local communities mainly consisted

of frequenting off-base bars and clubs and socializing with local women.
While many servicemen of course engaged in other kinds of interactions
as well, such as giving parties for and playing on sports teams with local
children, writings for military wives assumed that women were especially
capable of adapting to a foreign country and engaging in a wider variety
of contacts with local people than were servicemen. A guide coauthored
by service wife Elizabeth Land and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Carroll
Glines (who had created an indoctrination course for new Air Force
wives in Oklahoma) advised women abroad to Explore every ruin there
is, visit every art museum, make excursions to historical sites, take part in
festivals and celebrations, learn the language, be a part of the country.50
In a facetious article titled How to Be Perfectly Miserable Overseas,
98 A U.S. Ladys World

service wife Pat Moore described undesirable attitudes and behaviors

that members of military families presumably exhibited. Moore recommended that service wives associate only with Americans, order hamburgers rather than regional dishes when dining in local restaurants, and
teach their children that those foreign kids are different. The surefire
way to establish ill will, according to Moore, was to respond to a host nationals patriotism by informing him or her that If it wasnt for U.S. Foreign Aid, this placed be starving to death. Moore playfully yet pointedly
chided Americans who exhibited clannishness rather than involvement in
host communities, aversion to the local culture rather than adaptability
and adventurousness, and superiority rather than compassion and respect.
Underneath the jocular tone lay the assumption that military families who
ventured into host communities and tried to understand and respect local
peoples feelings and ways would not only improve international relations
but would also enjoy and enrich themselves.51
Occasionally, wives from host nations provided advice to help U.S.born women better understand and get along in the authors country of
birth. Army officers wife Chantal M. Moon informed readers stationed in
her native France, where many Americans lived at least partially on the
economy, that learning the basic elements of the language for starters,
choosing the right place to livenot a huge chateau that would run up
heating billsand practicing local customs and courtesiesdont try to
reform the local citizens to the American way of doing thingswere
fundamental to enjoying oneself in France and making friends there.52
German-born Elizabeth Dallmeier LaMantias advice, which was far more
critical of American women, assumed connections among womens behavior, family relations, household maintenance, and international relations. LaMantia sternly reproved American women who allegedly gave
Germans a poor impression of the United States and undermined U.S.German relations by neglecting housework, dressing immodestly, drinking, and spoiling children. LaMantia, a self-described war bride, had
lived in the United States with her husband for twelve years when she returned to her native Munich and encountered Americans whom she considered ill-behaved. I found myself apologizing to old friends, she said,
trying to convince them that the United States is not a land where all the
women dress indecently and everyone attends dusk til dawn cocktail parties. I tried explaining that slovenly habits and complete disregard for
the appearance of a home are not the norm. And I attempted to dispel the
notion that American children are baby monsters, permitted free and uninhibited reign in the family. The failures enumerated stemmed from
what LaMantia considered the dereliction of womens duties: control over
sexuality, care for the domestic sphere, and responsibility for raising selfA U.S. Ladys World 99

disciplined children. It seems incongruous that so many tax dollars are

spent for international good will, for fostering better understanding
abroad, complained LaMantia, when the example we show is far from
commendable. The solution to the problem, as LaMantia saw it, was for
women to better regulate themselves, their families, and their households
to save U.S. diplomatic aims.53
Womens advice literature targeted wives sloppy and immodest dress
as detrimental to relations with host nationals and the international image
of the United States. Service wife Sally Ramsey wrote that Psychologically, the way we dress affects our personalities. We feel more inclined to
act like ladies in a becoming dress than we do in blue jeans and sneakers.
In Ramseys perspective, to act like ladies was to promote good international relations. Ramsey worried that we may be seen [by residents of
host nations] as vulgar upstarts with poor taste in dress and poorer taste
in most cultural areas. By this logic, women who dressed carelessly gave
the impression that members of the U.S. military communityand by extension, Americans generallywere a coarse people who did not belong
in countries whose citizens considered themselves refined.54 Like Ramsey,
Navy wife Trudy Sundberg feared that sloppily dressed women fostered
poor impressions of Americans. Sundberg called attention to a United
States Information Agency poll which found that more than three-quarters of British, French, Italian, and West German respondents harbored
strong negative impressions of American women. According to the poll,
Europeans described American women as shallow, lazy, vain, showy,
frivolous, domineering, [and] oversexed, with bad taste and no elegance.
Sundberg asked service wives overseas to help dispel these unflattering
perceptions by projecting an image of sensitivity, intelligence, and understanding.55 Teenage girls also received instructions on how to dress in
public. Joyace Ann Downing Katz recalled that while living in Spain,
We were to dress up [e.g., not wear curlers or jeans]not like Ugly
Advice on appropriate feminine dress and conduct abroad disclosed
concerns about behavior that denoted class status. The advice was intended for all women, regardless of the rank of their husbands, but might
have especially targeted women who authors worried were more inclined
to display behavior considered low-classdrinking heavily, wearing revealing clothing, going out in curlersperhaps the wives of enlisted men.
Advocates of military wives in the ambassadorial role admonished compatriots not to brag of American superiority for fear that it would antagonize host country citizens, but neither did they want to appear inferior to
local observers.

100 A U.S. Ladys World

A recurring theme in the writings by and for military wives was that
one of their principal responsibilities was to counteract negative impressions of Americans by leading their own exemplary daily lives in
the presence of host-country spectators. Ann Saling described how as a
service wife in South America she attempted to interact with as many
Latin Americans as she could so that they would think that Perhaps all
norteamericanos are . . . friendly and interested in us. Military wives like
Ann Saling accepted the suggestions for positive American-host national
relations found in the official prescriptive literature, but then expanded
them into stories of personal interactions that readers would relate to
their own encounters with people abroad. For Saling, establishing friendly
relations between the United States and South American countries required fluency in Spanish and Portuguese, informal discussions on a variety of topics that ranged from regional recipes to international politics,
exploration of the countryside, and enjoyment of the wine offered by host
citizens. Although the U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia was
much larger, Ann Saling viewed the American presence in places like Brazil and Chile as nonetheless significant for foreign relations: [T]he military missions in South America are not large, so the behavior of each man
and his family is magnified far beyond what it would be if we were
counted by the hundreds.57
American women who tried to strengthen international relations
through personal encounters with residents of occupied and host countries viewed such interactions as weapons in the war against the spread of
communism. Ann Saling believed that her immersion in local communities
and her attentiveness to host cultures helped to counter Communist-inspired stereotypes of Americans as luxury-corrupted. She also strived
to discredit the idea that middle-class Americans were unsympathetic to
disparities between rich and poor in other countries. She related her own
approach to accomplishing this, describing how she socialized with people of various classes rather than only with other Americans or elite host
citizens. She recalled Two charcoal-makers in Brasilia [who] will remember that I stopped to ask about their work in their language. Saling also
believed that photographing farm work, speaking with locals about traditions, heroes and customs, and accepting the hospitality of host citizens without complaint or criticism negated impressions of Americans as
arrogant and self-centered. Showing respect for Chileans and Brazilians,
learning about them, and caring about their problems, she told readers,
won for the United States staunch Latin American friends who know we
care about themwho know our freedom is their freedom, worth defending in a cold or hot war.58

A U.S. Ladys World 101

Social and Cultural Interactions

Many activities of military wives put them in contact with residents of occupied and host countries and served as forums for projecting feminine
good will and utilizing womens talents. The earliest and most common
forms of interactionscharity work, the employment of domestic servants, and contacts with local childrenset the stage for relations between American women and local peoples. Charity enabled women to
demonstrate motherliness, compassion, and generosity while establishing
an international hierarchy between benefactor and beneficiary. Interactions between military wives and local children combined charitable gestures with womens expressions of maternalism. In their encounters with
children, Americans acted as surrogate parents to young residents of occupied and host countries. The employment of domestic workers brought
military wives and residents of occupied and host nations together in the
setting of the American home. Like charitable efforts, the employment of
domestics reinforced the higher status of the American employers over
their non-American employees. Indeed, Americans considered such employment a form of charity.
Other arenas in which Americans and local peoples encountered one
another afforded opportunities for more balanced social and cultural exchanges. Off-base excursions gave American women opportunities to
demonstrate interest in host customsfor instance, worship at Buddhist
shrines in Japan or Catholic processions in Italyand local history, such
as that of the Roman priestesses of Cuma or the Crusaders in Turkey. Military wives hoped that their attempts to learn about host nationals values
and customs would convey understanding and respect. Womens club activities also served as forums in which military wives attempted to demonstrate understanding and friendship. They believed that the cultural and
social exchanges transacted in these clubs generated mutual good will and
acceptance. In other settings besides clubs, American women made friends
with non-American women and men, taking excursions together, visiting
one anothers homes, and sharing perspectives.
Yet military wives who endeavored to forge good international relations found themselves attempting to achieve conflicting, though not necessarily irreconcilable, goals. On the one hand, they tried to help and befriend local peoples and understand and respect their cultures and customs. On the other hand, womens extensions of friendship and assistance
meshed with U.S. postwar foreign policy objectives to demonstrate the
presumed superiority of American ideals and institutions to peoples of occupied and host nations and create international alliances that ultimately
served the economic and political interests of the United States.
102 A U.S. Ladys World

Charity stemmed from compassion, yet also reinforced Americans
sense of economic and social dominance and helped to uphold their nations military presence in foreign countries. Charitable works constituted
some of the earliest points of contact between military wives and peoples
of war-torn nations. When military wives arrived abroad shortly after
the end of World War II they joined efforts to aid war survivors and rebuild shattered regions. They established the first postwar American
womens organizations in Europe in 1946. Charitable efforts were extensions of womens conventional familial responsibilities. Military wives,
often working with wives of civilian government personnel, supplied orphanages, gathered food and clothing for victims of war, and gave comfort and aid to the infirm. These maternal gestures were expressions of national power as well as personal generosity and kindness. Americans on
the home front had not suffered the death tolls, starvation, and destruction that Asians and Europeans had, and were in a position to help the
less fortunate. War victims acceptance of American aid opened the door
for Americans to help reconstruct ravaged nations, strengthen international relations, and establish U.S. influence.
Inhabitants of Germany and Japan were among the first recipients of
American womens charitable efforts. Many American women could not
remain indifferent to the suffering they witnessed, even when the victims
were recent enemies. Marjorie Clay, the wife of General Lucius Clay,
founded the American Womens Club of Berlin upon her arrival in Germany in 1946. The clubs activities included community fund drives and
the publication during the Berlin Airlift of a cookbook titled Operation
Vittles. The women donated the proceeds to various charities, favoring
those that aided ill or impoverished children. American women were considered especially effective representatives of American sympathy and
mercy toward former enemies. The good work which [womens] clubs
accomplished was remarkable and contributed much toward making the
Germans understand the humane characteristics of the American people,
proclaimed General Clay in appreciation of service wives contributions
to military and foreign relations goals.59
Margery Finn Brown, the wife of an Army colonel stationed in occupied Japan, performed numerous charitable deeds. Compassion motivated
her actions, though she did not conceal her sense of the superiority of the
American attitude toward those in need. She pitied the impoverished, bedraggled people she encountered, yet also condemned the Japanese for
what she considered their heartless indifference to suffering strangers.
Brown claimed that she tried to understand the Japanese world view, but
A U.S. Ladys World 103

declared that The Japanese attitude [toward want and suffering . . .] constitutes a major obstacle in any attempt to understand or like the Japanese. As a columnist for a Japanese newspaper, Brown wrote an article
about her inability to comprehend the apparent callousness she witnessed
among Japanese bystanders when a boy died in the street after being
struck by a truck. She received a flood of responsestearful, shocked,
and explanatoryin which readers expressed their sadness at such indifference but also tried to explain that while Japanese people would do
anything to help a relative, assisting strangers was not the norm. Brown
considered it her responsibility as a compassionate person, and as an
American, to alleviate the hardship she encountered: she took a homeless
woman found lying in a ditch to a hospital and paid for her medical care
and food (later she learned that the woman was a prostitute), gave money
to a repatriated woman in Hokkaido who had lost her husband and son
when the Soviets invaded Manchuria in 1945, and donated food to a
Catholic church that aided the poor of Kyoto.60
The benefactor-recipient relationship between service wives and residents of occupied nations positioned Americans as strong and capable
benefactors, and the beneficiaries of their largesse as weaker people in
need of aid and protection from the powerful United States. Supplies and
volunteer aid possibly made the U.S. presence more tolerable to those
who otherwise considered it an intrusion. In American minds, non-Americans acceptance of humanitarian aid from the U.S. government and from
individual Americans living abroad served as a justification for maintaining overseas bases.

Local Children
American adults relations with children of occupied and host countries, like connections established through charity work, arose out of
kindness but also harbored an inherent hierarchy. Many American women
and men became parentsfiguratively and literallyto children of occupied and host nations. Americans encountered local children in and
around their homes, in classrooms, and on visits to orphanages and hospitals. Some Americans adopted orphaned children. The positioning of
Americans as mothers and fathers to non-American children created maternalistic and paternalistic relationships that Americans believed also
strengthened long-term international relations.
Americans who befriended, taught, adopted, and gave charitable assistance to local children endeavored to win allies for the indefinite duration
of the Cold War. Routh Trowbridge Wilby advised American women to
Work with the young people of the country. They are the future leaders
104 A U.S. Ladys World

and any good influence we may have on them will pay dividends for
America in the years to come.61 Wilby and others believed that although
adult host nationals might stubbornly cling to prejudices against the U.S.
government and its citizens, military wives could cultivate childrens appreciation of Americans and acceptance of the U.S. military presence and
diplomatic influence, thereby securing long-term international alliances
and accommodation of bases.
Military wives exhibited friendliness, maternalism, charity, and American prosperity in their relations with local children. Although the Germans and Japanese had been formidable enemies during the war, Americans pitied their children as innocent victims of the hostilities.62 In 1947,
Margery Finn Browns family threw a Christmas party for fifty Japanese
children in their Kyoto neighborhood. According to Brown, the familys
cook disapproved of allowing the poorer children to mix with the more
affluent children, but Brown disregarded the Japanese womans objections. The Brown family ordered red mittens from Sears Roebuck as gifts
for the children, filled bags with American candy and chewing gum (the
first candy many had seen since before the war), arranged for a magician
as entertainment, and erected a thirteen-foot Christmas tree decorated
with Japanese lights. Describing how the children lined up for their gifts,
Brown wrote that It was disturbing . . . to watch the orderly way they
took their places; no scrambling, no jockeying, no me-firsts. Silently they
waited, held their gifts eye-level in a formal gesture of thanks, bowed and
departed.63 Browns generosity and pity for the children mixed with her
implicit condemnation of the Japanese culture that enforced segregation
between rich and poor and, in her view, robbed children of the spontaneity and individuality considered characteristic of American children.
Working as teachers, often on a volunteer basis, enabled American
women to become acquainted with large numbers of non-American children whom they hoped would come to favorably view Americans and
their country. In explaining why she declined a request to teach American
children in Seoul, Dorothy House Vieman wrote that I didnt come to
Korea to teach squirming American kids. If I lend my time to anything I
will teach Koreans, for Ill be here only once, more than likely, and I want
to know the Korean people.64 Many military wives taught English without monetary compensation because schools could not afford to pay
salaries. Vieman taught sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds at Ewha Girls
High School. The education of Korean girls and women was of great importance to Vieman; when she died a few years later at the age of thirtynine, her mother established a scholarship in her name for Asian women
at colleges in Texas.65 Routh Trowbridge Wilby volunteered as an English
teacher at a Tokyo high school. She observed that the adults already
A U.S. Ladys World 105

have formed their opinion of us and our country. But these young, future
leaders of Japan are still in the formative stage, and if we as Americans
can have successful, individual relations with them, maybe they will always have a warm place in their hearts for us.66 Teaching English promoted communication with Japans future adults with whom Americans
one day would negotiate diplomatic alliances. Americans must have assumed, however, that English would be the language of such interactions,
unless their own children learned Japanese.
Through adoptions, Americans installed themselves as legal parents to
children of occupied and host nations. Military wives who had adopted
children received honorary recognition from U.S. Lady, garnering praise
for exhibiting the qualities valued in Cold War American womanhood
and serving as models for international relations. Aurelia Richards, U.S.
Ladys very first U.S. Lady-of-the-Month (October 1955) and U.S.
Lady-of-the-Year (1957), adopted several children, some born in foreign
countries. While living in Japan with her Army husband and six other
adopted children, Richards took in a Japanese toddler. A U.S. Lady article
described the Richards family as a Little United Nations, composed of
children of European, Native American, and Japanese descent. Alvadee
Adams and John Adams declared that the family constituted living proof
that persons of different nationalities can live together harmoniously like
those of the same flesh and blood.67 As an ideal Cold War military wife,
Aurelia Richards embodied motherliness, generosity, compassion, and
an internationalist perspective. Another lauded wife, Bea Besta U.S.
Lady-of-the-Month in 1961 and U.S. Lady-of-the-Year in 1962and
her Navy husband adopted a Japanese girl in the 1950s. Among the accomplishments that earned Best these honorary titles were her study of
Japanese adoption laws and her work to assist other Navy couples to become the legal parents of Japanese children. According to Alvadee and
John Adams, The Japanese authorities were so grateful [for Bea Bests arrangement of eighteen adoptions] that they gave her a little Japanese boy
as a surprise gift, which is somewhat unique in the awards department.68
American accounts portrayed adoptions as demonstrations of compassion
and generosity that also symbolized taking host nationals into the American fold and commitment to the long-term and intensive financial, psychological, and moral care of the people of other nations.
The short fiction story Au Revoir, Mike (1961) suggested that adoption represented the ideal American-host citizen relationship. The tale
casts aspersions on the limitations of womens club activities by portraying these as frivolous expenditures of wives time and energy, and
half-hearted efforts to forge international friendship and understanding.
Adopting a child, in contrast, demonstrated a whole-hearted American
106 A U.S. Ladys World

commitment to international relations. In the story, Liz and Bill, a childless American couple, invite a French boy from the local Catholic orphanage to visit their home. Liz spends her time playing bridge and enjoying
her husbands pampering. The boy brings out a maternal instinct in Liz
(early in the story more interested in appearing slim and beautiful in a
black chiffon copy of a Dior than in being motherly), and she and Bill
adopt Mike so they can bring him back to the United States. The boy is
excited by the prospect of moving to America and becoming a cowboy.
The moral of the story is that Liz and Bill do more for international relations by adopting Mike than Liz did in participating in her superficial
wives club activities such as playing bridge with a French woman with
whom she could not communicate.69
In actuality, bringing host national children into American homes did
not always result in the youngsters wholehearted gratitude for their
American caretakers. In 1955, the family of an Air Force major stationed
in Madrid took in two Spanish brothers, ages fourteen and nine. In a letter to Jacqueline Cochran (a California businesswoman, politician, and
aviator who was the legal guardian and financial supporter of the boys),
the major wrote that The boys seem very happy heremuy contento
and are becoming more and more a part of the family. The family took
the boys to their first dental appointments. They hired tutors to help them
learn English more quickly and tried to cope with language differences by
establishing a household rule that everyone would speak only English in
the mornings and only Spanish in the afternoon until dinner. They gave
the boys American-style birthday and Christmas celebrations. In December 1955, the majors wife reported to Cochran that the boys were really
becoming Americanized. In later letters, however, the couple expressed
disappointment that the brothers did poorly in school, were not self-disciplined, and exhibited indifference and a lack of appreciation for the
Americans care and attempts to give them educational opportunities that
their father/caretaker asserted they would not have enjoyed otherwise,
given their humble background. Overall, the correspondence regarding
the boys upbringing suggests that although the American couple was
fond of their charges and tried to raise them fairly alongside their other
children, the brothers did not smoothly integrate into the family and did
not, according to the adults of the family, unquestioningly view the Americans as benefactors.70

Domestic Employees
The employment of domestic workers served as another arena in which
Americans tried to project benevolence and even affection toward nonA U.S. Ladys World 107

Americans. Yet relationships between American employers and local domestic workers were inherently and explicitly hierarchical. Service wives
supervision of household workers reinforced the pecking order between
employer and servant, benefactor and beneficiary, American and nonAmerican. During the early years of occupation, the military housing office in Tokyo furnished white jackets for Japanese male domestics, presumably to emphasize their status as servants.71 Americans sometimes
characterized the employment of domestics as an act of charity, reasoning
that it provided income to the needy. They depicted servants as childlike
people who required the guidance of American parents. The poverty of
domestics, as well as their racial and cultural differences, brought out
American attitudes of condescension, classism, and racism. Routh Trowbridge Wilby worried that Americans limited their involvement with residents of host countries to the maids and seamstresses who came to American homes.72 The prevalence of American employerlocal servant relationships probably troubled her because it suggested American dominance
and exploitation of host nationals rather than the ideal of friendship between allies.
Wives accounts of relations with domestics conveyed the idea that
occupied and host nation residents, including those who had been enemies in World War II, accepted and even desired the U.S. military presence. Army wife Bernadine Lee described her apprehension that she and
her young daughters would encounter hostile Japanese when the family
joined her husband in Tokyo in 1946. She told readers that the courtesy
and friendliness of the four Japanese domestic workers who lived with the
Lee family, and their affection for the children, changed her attitude about
the people who so recently had been foes of the United States.73 The fictional short story May Day (1961) also reassured Americans that ordinary Japanese people liked Americans, wanted to live with them on
friendly terms, and accepted the foreign military presence. The story is set
well into the Cold War, amid the anti-American agitation of Japanese
communists. It depicts anti-Americanism as stemming from violent communist fanatics who did not represent the majority of Japanese. Kit and
her Marine husband, Bob, live among the Japanese in a village rather than
on a military base. On May Day, Kit is at home awaiting the return of her
husband from an assignment in Korea. A Marine captain comes to the
house to warn her to be on guard against an attack by communist protesters, and gives her a rifle for protection. The Marines are especially
concerned about the Americans safety because on May Day the year before, communists had thrown acid into the face of a military wife. Kit
grows apprehensive and fears that her gardener, Papa-san Cut Grass (a
name that pigeonholes him by the work he does for the Americans) is
108 A U.S. Ladys World

plotting against her. She imagines that she sees him leading a mob to her
house and nearly faints from fear, but then discovers that the Japanese
group is bringing flowers to her because they felt sorry that the communist activities might delay her husbands homecoming, which they knew
she eagerly anticipated. Kit invites the mob in for tea and in the end reclaims May Day as a celebration of spring and flowers rather than a communist holiday.74
American womens anecdotes suggested that domestic employees did
not necessarily assume the role of deferential servant in their relations
with their employers. Army wife Ruth Bryant, whose family lived in Manila, claimed that the Filipino cook-houseboy runs us and our house.75
Margery Finn Brown described a favorite domestic employee upon whom
the family heavily relied as an amazingly capable fellow who happily handled much of the cooking, child care, and repair work. Brown affectionately declared that Tanabe was our friend. We were his, thus casting the
employer-employee relationship as egalitarian and mutually enriching
rather than hierarchical. Brown described another domestic worker as an
unpleasant and intimidating presence, who hissed her orders [to the
other household workers] out of the side of her mouth like a lady gangster, thus undercutting assumptions about meek Asian servants.76 Characterizations of household workers as domineering, indispensable, beloved, or intimidating downplayed hierarchies that might have made
American women uncomfortable. One also may read such accounts as evidence of domestic employees power negotiations that challenged American authority.
American notions of racial, class, and cultural differences bolstered
views of Asian servantsand, by extension, Asians generallyas primitive and childlike. Margery Brown described her household employees as
pathologically sensitive, stubborn as Arkansas mules, and hysterical.77 When writing about Asian domestic workers, American women indulged in making fun of their mistakes. One service wife offered this assessment of Japanese and Korean maids: A few are excellent workers;
some are more trouble than they are worth. But they usually have one
thing in common. They are good for a lot of laughs.78
The view of Asian household workers as laughably backward reinforced assumptions that the U.S. military presence could serve to guide
and enlighten the locals. Dorothy Vieman saw her supervision of her three
Korean houseboys as a vehicle for changing the servants views of gender relations: Women in Korea are subservient to men, as a rule, and
houseboys are generally suspected of respecting the mans word around
the house. Doc [her husband] told them that they were to do as I said, and
I guess all American wives will soon change this idea of mans word ruling
A U.S. Ladys World 109

the home.79 Barbara Richardson, an Army wife in Korea, described a

male employees disapproval of his American employers apparel: My
houseboy became righteously indignant when his young mistress appeared in public in a strapless evening dress; and my insistence upon sunning on our terrace in a halter and shorts nearly caused his resignation.
The Korean mans notions about womens dress reinforced Richardsons
conviction that Koreans would benefit from what she considered the civilizing influence of Americans living in Asia. Korean women were, in her
view, the epitome of all stay-at-home women who enjoyed far less freedom than American women. She observed, however, that the presence of
Westerners would eventually bring enlightenment to Korea, and asked
Americans to exercise patience in the meantime: Koreans are eager to
learn, to progress [. . . but this must occur] in their own way, in their own
The employment of domestics also bolstered the status of families
within the military community. Many families, even the families of officers, could not have afforded to hire maids in the United States. But
salaries for domestics were cheap in countries damaged by war or in other
places where people were desperate for work. Hiring maids also gave officers wives more time for other activities expected of them, such as charity
work and womens club meetings.81

American women did not interact with residents of occupied and host
countries only as charitable ladies, maternal figures, teachers, and employers. Religion, Christianity, in particular, provided other venues for contacts between Americans and non-Americans. Americans believed that
attending religious services with local people demonstrated spiritual and
cultural fellowship. American families in Europe often worshiped in
Protestant or Catholic churches in communities near military bases rather
than on base. A service wife reported that Many chaplains encourage
families to [attend religious meetings in the civilian churches . . .] believing
that it is not only good for the family, but excellent public relations for the
military. Going to church benefited families, service wives believed, because it created a sense of continuity and stability that could help military
families (especially children) cope with the numerous moves they made
around the United States and across the ocean. And attending religious
gatherings in foreign churches could convey an image of Americans as devout and family-oriented. The French see us mingling with them in their
bars, admonished one military pamphlet. We should let them see us
worship with them in their churches. Americans hoped that church at110 A U.S. Ladys World

tendance would counteract impressions of Americans as hedonistic and

Besides worshipping alongside local peoples in churches outside the
military community, American women performed charitable work and
made donations through religious organizations. Military wives in Izmir,
Turkey joined the St. Annes Society for Catholic Women. Their charity
projects included fund-raising for Greek nuns who tended to the citys
poor children and for needy Catholic clergy.83 Margery Finn Brown made
donations to a Catholic church in Kyoto staffed by three priests who
aided thousands of ill and impoverished people of the city by providing
food, clothes, and medical care.84
Even in countries where non-Christian religions predominated, Americans could encounter host nationals through Christianity. Nearly the entire population of Turkey was Muslim, but Christian service families who
learned about the history of Christianity in the region could demonstrate
interest in the Turkish past and make a historical connection with the
local people. Americans made excursions to early Christian churches and
shrines, and ruins and landmarks from the Crusades. They visited sites
that commemorated Saint John the Apostle, who came to Ephesus (a
Roman city near Izmir), and Saint Paul, who was born on Turkeys southern coast and established churches in Ephesus.85

Other excursions into local communities, such as shopping trips and
visits to points of historical and cultural interest, provided still more opportunities for service wives to show good will toward and interest in
local peoples and their ways of life. While servicemen symbolized military
power in a region, service wives who considered themselves unofficial ambassadors attempted to show that Americans were interested not in conquering a country but in learning about it and mixing with the local people as admiring guests and friends. Pat Donat, an Army wife, wrote that
she discovered through her interactions with shopkeepers that Japan is
not a group of islands on a map. Japan is peopled with men and women
who graciously allowed a foreigner to learn that sympathy and understanding have no nationality but belong to the world. Donat enjoyed
the respect shown to her by a Japanese couple when she brought her fiveyear-old son into their shop. In Donats view, the encounter showed that
Americans and Japanese were alike in their regard for motherhood and
Family excursions provided opportunities to demonstrate friendliness
and enthusiastic interest in a region, and also allowed local peoples to
A U.S. Ladys World 111

observe American family relations and the consumer goods they enjoyed.
Virginia Ferrell Alfonte, her Army husband, and their three children embarked on a ten-day Alpine camping trip from their post in Germany. On
their trip through Bavaria, Switzerland, and Austria, they encountered curious and friendly local residents and European vacationers who, according to Virginia Alfonte, were pleased to meet the American campers. A
Swiss man invited the Alfontes to camp in a scenic spot on his property,
and a Dutch family helped them quickly set up their tent in the rain. At a
campsite in Austria, curious children from a nearby village joined the family in toasting marshmallows. According to Virginia Alfonte, The gasoline stove fascinated them as did the big fancy American car. The local
adults, also curious about the American family, preferred to examine the
Alfontes from a distance. Virginia Alfonte considered the camping trip in
the European countryside a means to transcend national boundaries by
bringing various peoples together in a feeling of well-being and comradeship.87
American women stationed abroad with their husbands for two- to
three-year tours of duty enjoyed ample time to immerse themselves in
local history and culture and in so doing tried to project American appreciation of a region while countering stereotypes of Americans as unsophisticated and uninterested in culture. A group of women married to military
staff at NATO southern European headquarters and Navy staff in Naples,
Italy became known as the Culture Vultures. Groups of as many as 140
women visited regional sites, including the catacombs of Naples and the
nearby ruins of the ancient Greek city of Cuma, where Roman Sibyls had
delivered prophecies from their mountainside dwellings. Residents of Sorrento greeted the American women with shouts of Viva gli amici della
cultura (Long live the friends of our culture), and the town council
made the Culture Vultures honorary citizens. The American account of
the Culture Vultures depicted the good relations between military wives
and Italians as stemming from friendship and the Italians gratitude for
the American womens appreciation of their culture and history. The Italians also undoubtedly appreciated the revenue generated by the influx of
American women who dined and shopped in the towns they visited. The
military wives attempts to convey cultural interest and dispel stereotypes
of Americans as materialistic ironically involved spending money in host

International Womens Clubs

Through womens club activities, military wives could establish American-host national connections where they were not primarily benefactors,
112 A U.S. Ladys World

mother figures, employers, tourists, or customers in foreign countries, but

rather friends with local people. Host national women who invited Americans to club activities or formed clubs with American women tended to
be of higher social and economic status than the domestic workers employed by service families. A Korean womens club that put on parties and
dances attended by Dorothy Vieman and other Americans was composed
of westernized, college-educated wives of the professional men; the doctors, Army officers and business men.89 Military wives regarded womens
club gatherings as woman-to-woman project[s] that allowed American
and local women to learn about and show appreciation for one anothers
ways of life. Club members shared interests in art, opera, and literature,
though they also discussed domestic matters such as cooking, child-rearing, and gardening. An article on Izmir reported that service wives who
joined the Turkish-American Association learned the local language, customs, household arts, and folklore. American women who met with the
Zama Town Womens Club in Japan took doll-making and cooking
classes together. These military wives also observed Japanese dances performed by the members, and tried to express their admiration and understanding of this cultural form by learning the movements.90
Military wives viewed womens club meetings as opportunities for
friendly, informal exchanges that fostered mutual understanding and
countered unflattering stereotypes of American women. Jane Metzger, a
Marine officers wife, described American and British womens discussions
of such topics as appliances, American holidays, life on a Texas ranch,
recipes, and gardening. American women in the group hoped to dispel
notions that they were boastful and badly spoiled, and that their
children were ill-mannered. Yet in informing her English audience that
modern appliances did not eliminate all of the hard work required of
American housewivesThere has never been an appliance, I assured
them, that will replace the one with two willing hands to cook, clean and
mind the babyJane Metzger hoped to convey the superiority of the
American way of life. I always tried to point outtactfully, she wrote,
that convenient kitchens and labor-saving equipment are relatively cheap
in America because we have an economy based on mass production, relatively lower taxes and houses built for what amounts to a servantless society.91 Even in casual exchanges among women who wanted to consider
one another friends and equals, American women found opportunities to
favorably compare their country with host nations and gently extol the
superiority of the United States.

A U.S. Ladys World 113

Friendships constituted the most egalitarian relations between nonAmericans and military wives who wished to exhibit good will and transcend the superficiality and hierarchy that characterized many encounters
between service families and residents of occupied and host nations. People who accepted American charity or employment or allowed their children to receive American gifts did not necessarily consider Americans
their friends. Moreover, although some Americans interacted frequently
with domestic employees or shopkeepers, language and cultural barriers
often prevented such contacts from developing into anything more than
polite acquaintanceships. Residents of occupied and host nations attempted to negotiate friendships on terms that they were comfortable
with and that allowed them to retain their dignity and autonomy. Some
might have resented the foreign military presence in their region but came
to like individual Americans.
Margery Finn Browns friendship with a college student illustrates how
the wife of a colonel in the occupying forces and a citizen of an occupied
nation took great care to negotiate a relationship more egalitarian than
most Japanese-American affiliations, considering the military and cultural
contexts. Brown arrived in Japan intent on getting to know its people
well. She met a young college student, Horace (Brown did not give his last
name), who had lost a brother in the war. A mutual interest in literature
sparked Browns and Horaces friendship. Their association developed in
the context of two cultures: the Japanese culture, in which women were
expected to defer to men (more than in American culture); and the culture
of the U.S. military occupation, whose personnel viewed the Japanese as
inferior. Yet Margery Brown and Horace managed to forge a friendship
more balanced than most Japanese-American relationships. Brown was
older than Horace, the wife of a colonel, educated, and a working woman
(a journalist). Horace was a younger, poorer college student coping with
family and health problems. Brown was learning Japanese and Horace
knew English fairly well, so they communicated in both languages. Horace took Brown to Japanese theatrical productions and always paid for
her tickets and interpreters. She lent him books and gave him gifts from
the United States. Brown worried about Horaces poor health and family
problems but tried to express her concerns nonintrusively. Horace felt
comfortable enough with Brown to openly disagree with her about aesthetic and literary preferences. Their friendship shows that maintaining
any semblance of equality between Japanese and Americans required effort and high mutual regard.92
Often, cultural differences and lack of language training prevented mil114 A U.S. Ladys World

itary wives from developing friendships with non-Americans. Bernadine

Lee arrived in occupied Japan fearful of its people, but quickly came to
feel gladly received by the Japanese. The Lee family lived in a Japanese
community. Lee thought her neighbors gracious and mentioned their
courteous bows of greeting and the gifts they gave to welcome the American family. Still, she longed for informal chats which the language barrier
prevented. Lee expressed a desire to learn Japanese; in the meantime, she
hoped to find English-speaking friends.93
American womens accounts of relationships with neighbors described
some as occurring easily and others as requiring much effort and perseverance. Josephine Pope, her Army doctor husband, and their two children
resided in a French farm community for nearly two years. Pope portrayed
relations between her family and the locals as warm and unconstrained.
The invitation for the Popes to join their neighbors at an all-night village
wedding dance signified that the French residents had accepted the American family into their community. The months I spent in this French village were the most challenging, yet the most rewarding, of my army-wife
career, Pope recalled. I realized that home can be anyplace, anywhere.
And I found out that good neighbors, good friends are not limited by
Military wives who shouldered the ambassadorial role considered it
their duty to build friendships with local people, even when this proved
difficult, in order to show American good will and perseverance. Patricia
Moores account about slowly getting to know her English neighbors cautioned other service wives that friendships did not necessarily come easily,
even when Americans and host nationals spoke the same language. Yet
she assured readers that patience, persistence, and understanding would
eventually pay off. When the Moore family came to live in a fishing village
on the North Sea coast of England, Moores cheerfulness and informality
met with cool responses from her neighbors. After many lonely months
without neighborly interactions, Moore asked several people in the community to a housewarming, which she told them was an American custom. Many of the neighbors accepted the invitation and dined on hamburgers with the Moores. After this gathering, Moore perceived the
neighbors as barely friendlier than before. She experienced a crucial
breakthrough when her husband left for an assignment in Turkey shortly
before she was to give birth to their second child. One neighbor took it
upon himself to build fires for the Moore home and bring in groceries
from town; others looked in on her regularly. Only after the babys birth
did the neighbors truly welcome the Moores into their community activities, voting the Americans into the local dart team and inviting them
into their homes. The village women asked Patricia Moore to join their
A U.S. Ladys World 115

Womens Institute, where she spent many happy evenings learning how
to make a Yorkshire pudding and showing how to make barbecue.95
Moores account suggests that neighbors perception of her as vulnerable
pregnant, with her husband out of the countryfinally sparked the
friendship for which she had longed. The locals allowed the Moores into
their community on their own terms, in their own time. Once this connection finally occurred, Moore could enjoy the cultural and social exchange
that she and other American women sought abroad.

American Homes as Showcases and Embarrassments

For military families overseas, the home was not necessarily a haven apart
from international politics and foreign relations. Rather, many Americans
believed that their homes advertised to other nations the American way of
life and the prosperity that sprang from democracy and capitalism. Military wives who showcased the American home assumed its superiority
and, by extension, the supremacy of their nations ideals and institutions.
At the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959, American Vice
President Richard Nixon pointed to the modern home appliances on display as evidence of the success of the American economic and political
systems. In a famous exchange known as the kitchen debate, Nixon
asked Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, [I]s it not far better to be talking about washing machines than machines of war, like rockets? Isnt this
the kind of competition you want? The American vice president admonished Khrushchev to Let the people choose the kind of house . . . the
kind of ideas they want. We have many different manufacturers and many
different kinds of washing machines, so that the housewives may have a
choice.96 For many years before the Nixon-Khrushchev kitchen debate,
military wives stationed overseas had enacted the kind of international
competition later advocated by Nixon. They had invited local women to
their homes to admire their refrigerators and washing machines, and had
tried to project American power through their appliances and domestic
ideology rather than weapons of war.
Whereas many service families who came to foreign countries soon
after World War II lived in ill-equipped, makeshift quarters, some in extreme disrepair, much of the military housing constructed in the 1950s
more closely approximated ideal American homes. When Air Force wife
Marian Merritt came to Okinawa the first time in 1946, her family lived
in a Quonset hut afflicted with leaky plumbing, a moldy wooden shower,
a defective refrigerator, and cockroaches. When the Merritts returned in
1952, Marian Merritt described their brand-new quarters as a dream of
116 A U.S. Ladys World

a house compared to the little quonset we lived in [in 1946]. The home
was so new that the sidewalk had not hardened by the time the Merritts
arrived; construction of the house had been completed only the night
before. Marian Merritt appreciated the tiled bathroom with a tub and
shower, and the absence of insect infestations. American families at other
overseas bases also enjoyed modern appliances, fixtures, and furnishings
provided by the military.97
Americans considered modern homes for military families important
not only for the comfort of the occupants and the morale of personnel,
but also for projecting an image of American life to local peoples. In the
early Cold War era, Americans believed that the home showcased the
finest qualities of their way of life: happy family relations, democracy,
freedom, and prosperity. In some areas, especially poor regions or countries still recovering from World War II, many local people did not possess
such amenities as washing machines, refrigerators, or indoor bathrooms.
When military families invited local people into their homes they gave
them opportunities to view American family relations and modern appliances, which were intended to proclaim the American way of life.
Yet the armed forces policies regarding housing at overseas stations,
especially for the families of enlisted personnel, undermined the attempt
to display ideal American homes. The unavailability of military housing
for the families of the lowest grades of enlisted personnel, or at stations
that did not provide quarters for any dependents (regardless of a service
members rank), compelled personnel in these situations who wanted their
families with them to rent residences off base. In some areas the only affordable rentals were cramped and dilapidated and lacked the modern appliances considered essential in American homes, such as hot water or indoor toilets. Senator Margaret Chase Smiths 1958 report on the retention
of Air Force personnel called attention to deplorable housing conditions
for enlisted members. In 1957, Smith, a Republican senator from Maine
and a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, toured eighteen bases in
the United States and overseas to investigate the problem of retaining
skilled personnel. She interviewed more than three hundred junior officers
and airmen, and also spoke with wives. She found that whereas officers
seemed for the most part content with their quarters, twenty-four percent
of airmen gave poor living conditions as a reason for leaving the service
(this complaint ranked third, after job dissatisfaction [twenty-eight percent] and pay [twenty-five percent]). Personnel stationed overseas were
nearly three times as likely to complain about inadequate quarters as
those stationed in the United States. As examples of poor housing conditions in Europe, Smith reported that a sergeant and his wife and baby
stationed in France lived in a one-room apartment and shared with five
A U.S. Ladys World 117

families an outhouse near the sidewalk, and that the family of an air mechanic in Germany used a coal range for cooking.98
In addition to official reports of wretched housing for families abroad,
complaints from wives to White House officials reveal the limits of the
militarys ability to back the rhetoric of the superiority of the American
way of life with exemplary American homes. At Camp Zama, Japan, ten
to twelve families living in temporary quarters (consisting of one and a
half rooms per family) shared one stove, one washing machine, and one
dryer and experienced frequent loss of heating. Air Force families at a station in Turkey made their homes in trailers until asked to relinquish these
quarters to official personnel. Because the Air Force provided no family
housing in the region, families were expected to find quarters off base.
They faced living in hotels that one wife described as filthy and insectinfested, or leaving the country.99 Constructing and maintaining good
family housing was expensive. Policymakers decisions to curb costs by
limiting overseas housing primarily to officers families compromised
American proclamations of family togetherness and democracy for all citizens. Moreover, the sight of American families of lower-ranking personnel residing in run-down, antiquated residences off-base would have
called into question Americans claims that their superior economic and
political institutions resulted in prosperous living.

American Marriage, Gender Relations, and

Troubles at Home
Military wives tried to portray American marital and gender relations,
like American homes, as representative of the superiority of American
ideals and society. Americans who lived overseas in the early Cold War
era often considered their countrys gender relations egalitarian in contrast to relations between men and women in the lands housing U.S. military bases. Margery Finn Brown communicated to readers of her memoir
her own sense of greater equality in American marriages as compared to
Japanese marriages. She perceived that her Japanese neighbors disapproved of her sitting in the front seat of the car with her husband, rather
than in the back seat with the children. She reported that her Japanese
friends from the womens club asked for her advice on coping with marital problems, including infidelity and physical abuse (ostensibly for the
sake of friends, though Brown doubted this; she believed that the women
described their own predicaments), suggesting that they viewed the American woman as someone more capable than they of countering male dominance and adultery.100 Americans sense of equality between husbands
118 A U.S. Ladys World

and wives reinforced the idea that they were more socially advanced than
people of occupied and host countries.
It might surprise those looking back on mid-twentieth-century families
from the vantage point of the early twenty-first century to learn that
Americans in the 1950s considered relations between men and women in
the United States to be vastly more democratic than gender relations in
other countries. But the idea that American women enjoyed equality with
or even dominance over their husbands became entangled in some minds
with the misogynistic idea that mothers and wives pathologically wielded
their power in familial relations.101 Implicit critiques of American women
were embedded in observations of their allegedly immense freedom and
undisputed equality. A U.S. Lady article on Americanhost citizen relations reported that according to a United States Information Agency survey, respondents in Great Britain, France, Italy, and West Germany viewed
American women as domineering.102 American declarations of American womens equality and liberty sometimes represented attempts to contain womens dissatisfaction with their lesser status relative to men and
defiance of the constraints they faced. Those who claimed that American
women enjoyed unparalleled high status in their own society sent the message that they should consider themselves fortunate for enjoying such a
privilege in contrast to women of other countries who were purportedly
far more oppressed than they.
Military families, like families in the general American population, experienced internal conflicts that challenged the nuclear family ideal that
Americans wanted to enjoy and project. Despite claims of egalitarian gender relations, wives possessed less legal and economic power in their marriages than their husbands. Some women believed that the military establishment sided with servicemen against wives in family conflicts, ignoring
wives complaints and protecting men who shirked their family duties.103
And though allowing families to join personnel in foreign countries was
intended to reduce family separations, mens temporary duty assignments
or other activities (such as maneuvers) away from their home bases meant
that women often ran households and raised children without help from
Couples struggled with infidelity, real or suspected, believed to pose a
particular stress for military marriages because of mens frequent workrelated absences. Even when families were together overseas, some American husbands engaged in extramarital relations with non-American
women, although wives almost never alluded to these liaisons in contemporary published accounts.104 One Navy wife who did focused her article
on criticizing civilians poisoners, she called them who over the
years barraged her with questions about what her husband might be up to
A U.S. Ladys World 119

while he was away. She relayed to readers her Navy doctors assurances
that This business of men needing biological indulgence is an old wives
talenot a medical actuality, and his assertion that wives were just as
likely, and perhaps even more likely, to engage in extramarital sexual activities as their sailor husbands (thus turning fears about marital infidelity
around to cast doubt on wives). The author also told of a fellow Navy
wife who received a letter from her husbands commanding officer regarding an unknown squadron member who allegedly sent poison letters to
wives about their husbands frolics in the Philippines. The commanding
officer reassured the wives that The typical husband out here is not running around. He is working long, hard hours.105
Despite strict rules that families who joined military personnel overseas
were to remain with their sponsors until the end of a tour of duty, some
wives and children left early due to divorce, separation, or wives documented psychological illnesses.106 Yet the most sensitive problems within
military families did not receive widespread public attention in the 1950s
and 1960s. In its thirteen-year run, the magazine U.S. Lady rarely gave attention to topics such as alcoholism and depression and did not acknowledge domestic violence in service families.107 It focused instead on less
provocative subjects such as the difficulties of making frequent moves and
raising children in military life.
Despite military officials acclaim of wives and families in the 1950s,
few services for military families suffering serious personal problems existed before the 1970s. The increasing willingness of the armed forces to
acknowledge domestic violence, incest, and alcoholism in military families
paralleled changing attitudes in the general American society. The resurgence of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s pushed taboo family problems
such as alcoholism, incest, wife battering, and child abuse into public discourse. Furthermore, the rising proportion of married personnel between
the 1950s and 1970sfrom 38.3 percent in 1953 to 56.9 percent in
1974, declining only between 1965 and 1968 during the drastic increase
of U.S. troops in Vietnamcompelled government agencies to provide
greater assistance to military families.108 During the 1970s, psychologists,
psychiatrists, social workers, and sociologists also began to give greater
attention to military families though still not enough even into the
1990s, according to critics.109

Racism and the Cold War

After World War II, as peoples of colonized nations broke away from imperial powers and the civil rights movement in the United States gained
120 A U.S. Ladys World

strength and momentum, many Americans became concerned with how

foreigners perceived race relations in the United States. The international
media reported on civil rights events in the United States, watching how
Americans responded to efforts to integrate Central High School in Little
Rock, Arkansas in September 1957, for example. The Soviet Union used
accounts of white Americans racist violence and their treatment of African Americans as second-class citizens in propaganda intent on discrediting the United States self-appointment as the beacon of freedom in the
Cold War.110
Racism in military communities contradicted American claims to promote democracy, equality, and freedom for all citizens. The segregation of
the armed forces, which continued for several years after the end of World
War II, meant that black families, like black servicemen, used housing,
travel, and care facilities separate from whites. In 1948, President Harry
Truman issued an executive order that declared a policy of equality of
treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services, without
regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. By 1954, the armed
forces had abolished segregated units and prohibitions against African
Americans serving in all branches, in any combat or noncombat positions.
The Department of Defense also desegregated on-base schools for service
children. Despite progress toward integration within the armed forces,
segregation persisted well into the 1960s in schools and housing used by
the many families who resided near, but not on, military bases.111
As in the United States, African Americans and their families encountered discrimination abroad, on and off military bases. Mrs. Theodore
Miles wrote to the White House in 1957 to complain of the militarys
poor treatment of her son, an African-American airman stationed at
Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and his Filipina wife and their young
son. Miles informed President Eisenhower that service wives at the base
were hostile to her daughter-in-law. She blamed the familys problems
bad housing conditions, difficulty obtaining food for the babyon racism
in the armed forces. Dollie Allen, whose family lived in Munich, asked for
Eisenhowers assistance with obtaining permission to move out of government quarters because other tenants in her building spat at the Allen family, cursed them with racist and obscene language, and vandalized their
home. Evidently, Allen believed that her family would fare better living
among Germans, also known to exhibit racism toward African Americans, than in an American military community.112 Racism also poisoned
relations between residents of occupied and host nations and white and
black Americans. In 1954, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of New
York reported that white Air Force personnel in France urged host nation
merchants and landlords to discriminate against African-American service
A U.S. Ladys World 121

members.113 White Americans encouragement of discrimination abroad

represented resistance to desegregation within the military and an attempt
to impose Jim Crow customs in foreign communities to prevent African
Americans from using the opportunity of being stationed overseas to
break out of the racial hierarchy found in the United States.
Examining U.S. military and government responses to attempts to form
interracial families, through marriage or the adoption of mixed-race children, reveals the limits of policies concerning what constituted a legitimate family in the years following World War II. Military officials in
European and Asian commands could obstruct interracial marriages between U.S. soldiers and local women (some of whom had children with
the men they wished to marry). And U.S. state anti-miscegenation laws
and federal immigration laws posed challenges for soldiers who wanted to
take legal responsibility for mixed-race children they had fathered abroad,
and for Americans who wanted to adopt mixed-race war orphans. Historian Brenda Gayle Plummer argues that the military so strongly resisted
black GI attempts to establish legitimate paternity and play the maledominant roles that were conventional in society at large because recognizing their ability and their right to lawfully assume such roles would
threaten assumptions about African-American mens moral inferiority and
irresponsibility that in racist thinking justified the denial of equal citizenship rights to them.114
For all the rhetoric glorifying the American family in the early Cold
War era, those who conceived of mixed-race families as legitimate social
units found that U.S. policies, laws, and attitudes were not necessarily as
broad-minded. In the 1950s, African-American Elks, the black press,
and the author Pearl S. Buck publicized the cause of war ophans resulting from the U.S. military presence abroad, urging Americans to take
greater responsibility for their welfare. But recognition and resolution of
the plight of Japanese-American children met with daunting obstacles in
Japan and the United States, where according to historian Yukiko Koshiro, American and Japanese racism toward mixed-race children dovetailed to make them into pariahs in both societies. Officials in SCAP (the
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, the title of the occupation
government in Japan) tried to minimize attention to these children for fear
that it would exacerbate strains in U.S.-Japanese relations. Occupation officials deported from Japan an American reporter who published an article about G.I. babies in the June 1948 edition of the Saturday Evening
Post, and forbade the official gathering of data that would show the exact
number of such children. And although politicians, clergy, and other advocates for the Japanese-American war orphans tried to facilitate their
adoptions by American parents, anti-Asian U.S. immigration policies and
122 A U.S. Ladys World

state anti-miscegenation laws made this extremely difficult into the 1950s.
Cold War politics also shaped American attitudes toward dealing with
these children, expressed in concerns about international criticisms of
American racism, and competition with Soviet efforts to bring babies fathered by their forces in East Germany to the Soviet Unionand, reportedly, 467 German children fathered by African-American G.I.s, cast away
by both Americans and Germans. U.S. Representative Frances Bolton, for
example, urged Congress to facilitate the acceptance of such children into
the United States, for otherwise they could be appropriated by the Soviets
and transformed into communist agents.115 But in a 1954 Readers Digest
article by the popular novelist James Michener, the author claimed that
the issue of G.I. babies was a communist-promulgated exaggeration.116
Publications by and for military wives occasionally raised concerns
about racism, but for most who produced and consumed this literature it
did not become a major issue. In the late 1950s, U.S. Lady began to print
editorial comments, letters, articles, and short stories that addressed racial issues, including items about African Americans, Asian women, and
mixed-race couples and children.117 The adoption of nonwhite children by
white women such as Aurelia Richards and Bea Best made a bold statement against racism at a time when many white Americans still vehemently opposed interracial social relations of any sort.118 As for the issue
of race relations between Americans in mostly white U.S. military communities abroad and nonwhite host nationals, however, white unofficial
ambassador wives were more inclined to view Americans negative attitudes toward local peoples as a problem that could be rectified through
striving to understand and respect cultural differences; they rarely articulated the problem in terms of racism. To do so would have risked facing
the issue of racism within American military communities, including their
own complicity in reinforcing (whether passively or actively) hierarchies
of race and rank. Wives of career military men rarely publicly criticized
the armed forces for fear that it would endanger their husbands advancement, as well as their own status.

Rejecting the Unofficial Ambassador Role

Not all military wives embraced the ambassadorial role. Some lived
abroad without interacting much with local peoples or self-consciously
projecting a positive image of American life to local observers; some wives
unabashedly expressed contempt for local peoples. In 1955, Elizabeth
Happan published an entire book, based largely on her experiences as an
Army wife, enumerating scathing criticisms of the military establishment,
A U.S. Ladys World 123

masculine military culture, domestic violence in military families, and her

own husband. Besides condemning militarism and many problems endured by military wives and families, she fulminated against maids hired
by military families at unnamed overseas locales. Girls who take jobs
working as maids for Army dependents, she declared, are held in disrepute by the general civilian population of their own country. Her extensive list of maids offenses included Filthy smell, Jabbering to other
maids, garbage men, and other people in foreign language in presence of
third person, Stealing, and Ganging up with the [American] husband
against the wife.119 Some wives found that they simply could not acclimate to a new environment. In 1965, Mrs. Honour P. Brinlee, who described herself as a fellow Texan, wrote a letter to President Lyndon
Johnson complaining of living conditions in Bangkok (where she had
resided for five months), a three-foot-long snake that had found its way
into her kitchen, and the Thai people, whom she characterized as exploitative of the Americans (charging as much rent as they could get away
with) and ignorant. I have lived in England, Ireland, Australia, and the
U.S.A., she wrote. I have always been able to adjust and be happy. Here
it is impossible to be happy. . . . My only reason for staying here is to
make a home for my husband and maybe prevent him from going
crazy. She claimed that nearly all the other wives shared her dislike of
Bangkok.120 Happan and Brinlees tremendous disdain for local peoples
would have horrified military wives who sought to promote international
friendship and understanding. Their attitudes and grievances may have
been shared by many Americans in military communities, but rarely did
they appear in print for public consumption, possibly because those who
agreed with them feared being labeled Ugly Americans or that complaining too vociferously would incur the ire of military officials who
wanted to minimize tensions between American and host communities
(and who in some cases paid little heed to wives complaints, however
valid). Although many Americans who advocated good relations with
local peoples did harbor feelings of superiority, their published accounts
usually did not consciously reveal this, let alone openly disparage host

Gold Outflow and the Fear of a Feminized Military

In the early 1960s, assumptions about how families aided U.S. military
and foreign relations aims by bolstering servicemens morale and advancing relations between nations ran up against the expense of maintaining
them abroad. Following the November 1960 elections, President Eisen124 A U.S. Ladys World

hower announced a drastic phased reduction of dependents of military

and civilian personnel abroadfrom 484,000 to 200,000, at a rate of
three percent per monthin order to reduce U.S. overseas spending and
stanch the outflow of gold from U.S. reserves, especially to host nations
in Western Europe such as France and West Germany whose economies
had greatly improved in the 1950s and that had accrued dollars from the
U.S. military establishment, as well as American tourism and private investment.121
Eisenhowers announcement distressed military wives, whose advocates
pressed the new president to countermand the previous administrations
order. In their January 1961 editorial, Alvadee and John Adams reviewed
the activities of numerous U.S. Ladies of the Month to present the case
that families abroad not only sustained the morale of fighting men but
also aided international relations. The editors also urged wives to contact
their government representatives, including President-elect Kennedy, to
make their voices heard.122 In a January 25 press conference, Kennedy acknowledged that officials in the outgoing and incoming administrations
were examining the effects of reducing military families abroad on military morale, military strength, [and] the rate of enlistment. On February
1, the president announced the reversal of Eisenhowers plan as a determination of national interest and stated that the government would find
means other than reducing the number of family members at overseas stations to decrease spending abroad, such as demanding that prosperous
host nations reimburse a greater share of U.S. defense costs.123
It was neither the first nor the last time that the question would arise of
whether large numbers of family members should accompany military
personnel abroad. The expense, the fear that wives and children feminized
and softened the armed forces, and the concern that the American women
and children were in harms way should the Cold War break out into a
hot war, formed the basis of opposition to the policy. In 1951, Colliers
ran a lengthy and sensationalistic article titled U.S. Army Wivesthe Big
Snafu in Europe, criticizing the presence of thousands of American dependents in Germany as a potentially catastrophic hindrance to military
readiness. The front lines of the Seventh Army, argued author Ernest
are cluttered with nearly 45,000 wives and children and mothers-in-law
of the American soldiers and civilians on duty here. They are cluttered
with their dogs and cats and household goods; with their schools and
their 400 American schoolteachers; with their flower shops, their supermarkets, their bowling alleys, their night clubs, their golf courses, their
snack bars, their summer and winter resorts, their movies.
A U.S. Ladys World 125

Leiser contrasted the image of tough and fit GIs with laughing and
chattering civilian women and children whose presence, he editorialized,
blunted the fighting spirit of servicemen and would pose a devastating distraction in the event of a Soviet attack in the region. As to the assertion
that the removal of American families would cause panic among Germans
who considered their presence a comforting safeguard against Soviet aggression, Leiser countered that the Germans would be more grateful than
sad to see them leave.124
Nearly seventeen years later, Howard L. Burris, an Air Force official
who had served as a military aide to then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson,
forwarded to President Johnsons chief of staff Marvin Watson a similar
(though somewhat less strident) story from Business Week. Published at
the height of the Vietnam War, the article examined the costs of sustaining
wives and children in Western Europe and painted a picture of a U.S. military whose sharpness had been dulled by families and consumerism. A
photograph of a row of women sitting under hair dryers at a post exchange beauty salon evidenced the alarming message that the wives and
families were draining the armed forces of its virility and taxpayers of
their dollars. In his letter to Watson, Burris expressed concern, as others
before him had done, that American women and children in West Germany might become hostages in a clash with communist forces and that
one of Americas great tragedies will have occurred, bespeaking the notion of family members as potential victims to be protected rather than
critical to military effectiveness. Burriss letter to Watson is dated February 2, just days after Vietnamese communists launched the Tet Offensive;
perhaps these surprise attacks intensified his anxiety about the safety of
American families in West Germany at this time.125
Even those who considered families important to servicemens morale
and did not anguish that they distracted and emasculated the overseas
armed forces did not necessarily view them as an asset to U.S. foreign
relations goals. Historian Walter Hixson has demonstrated that for the
most part, government officials and the American public accepted Cold
War militarization as the dominant paradigm of postwar foreign policy.
Although the Eisenhower administration proved more successful than
Trumans in implementing cultural exchange as a means to attract foreign
peoples to American ideas and values, many Americans remained convinced that superior military power far surpassed soft power as the means
for winning the Cold War.126 In the Kennedy administration, the emphasis
on masculine toughness in the anti-communist fight shaped even the Peace
Corps, Conceived by its proponents as the moral equivalent of war
that in its grassroots humanitarian projects would rely on male resource-

126 A U.S. Ladys World

This cartoon portrays a military wifes response to a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation exercise in West Germany. Military
families practiced emergency evacuation procedures. According to
artists Walt Howard and Dick Wolf, The monthly alerts or readiness tests are frightening at first but rapidly become annoying.
After the first few, you become nonchalant about rising in the wee
hours of the morning and doing your part to protect the Free
World. Source: Walt Howard and Dick Wolf, Dependents Dilemmas in Deutschland (Germany, 1964), 31.

fulness and ruggedness to accomplish its development goals.127 Upon

learning of the Peace Corps, military wives and their proponents had been
excited at the prospect of the federal government recognizing and making
greater use of their feminine influence abroad. At a May 1961 press conference, the U.S. Lady editors asked President Kennedy what are you
and the Defense Department doing to better prepare the one-half million
dependents, more than half of whom are wives, sons, and daughters, of
Peace Corps qualifications, for their roles while living overseas? After
overcoming his confusion about the question, Kennedy expressed polite
but fleeting interest before moving on to the next inquiry.128 So while the
military offered orientations for families, handed out guidebooks, and reminded wives and families to project friendly, positive images of Americans in foreign nations, those who wanted to make the most of opportunities to interact with and influence peoples abroad continued to rely chiefly
on their own initiative.

A U.S. Ladys World 127

Although American women in the years following World War II tried to
adopt a cultural-relativist attitude in host countries, they concurrently endeavored to project the superiority of American homes, ideals, and institutions. In an article on good behavior abroad, Margaret Wayt DeBolt
used Tennessee Ernie Fords closing words from his Armed Forces Radio
Station program as advice to other military wives: When youre in a foreign countryyoure the foreigner.129 This reminder was a point that
emerged frequently in womens accounts: Americans should try to accept
other peoples and cultures on their own terms and not behave as if American ideas and ways were the universal norm. The military advice literature as well as womens unofficial writings urged Americans to try to
understand non-American ways of life. Yet for Cold War Americans, recognition of cultural diversity did not extend to acceptance of all ways of
life as equally valid. Americans understood that environment, culture,
and socialization influenced the worlds various peoples, and that multiple
societies could coexist. But tolerance of difference extended only so far.
During the early Cold War era, denunciation of communism and Soviet
society as politically, economically, and morally inferior to American institutions and life reemerged more powerfully than ever.130 The American
Cold War mindset that viewed the world in terms of communism and totalitarianism versus free enterprise and democracy allowed Americans to
tolerate and even appreciate non-American cultures and customs while
never relinquishing the conviction that converting foreigners to American
anti-communist values was the ultimate safeguard of freedom.
Cold War Americans considered their way of life superior to any other
in the world. By taking flower-arranging classes, learning tea ceremonies,
visiting castles, or dressing up in local peoples traditional apparel, American women tried to understand and show admiration for non-American
cultures. They believed that social and cultural exchanges with the peoples of countries housing U.S. bases benefited all parties concerned. Yet
military wives also considered themselves ambassadors of the American
way of lifeto them, the ultimate way of lifeeven when they proclaimed their admiration and respect for other cultures. They attempted
to exemplify American prosperity and freedom through demonstrations
of charity, modern appliances, and family relations. Social and cultural activities in occupied and host nations were intended to perpetuate a sense
of parity, of equal international exchange between friends and allies who
were innately curious about one another. Accounts from military wives
that tried to convey the basic attitude of we American women teach nonAmerican women about our ideas and way of life, and they teach us
128 A U.S. Ladys World

about theirs assumed that mutual understanding would foster harmony

among the worlds peoples, regardless of cultural and political differences
and material inequalities. But such exchanges occurred in the context of
U.S. occupation in Japan (until 1952) and West Germany (until 1955), or
in nations that were not occupied but that accepted (or tolerated) the U.S.
military presence. The semblance of equal cultural exchange served to cast
relations between Americans and residents of occupied and host countries in terms of mutual learning and benefit rather than as domination of
less powerful nations. This message targeted various overlapping groups:
Americans affiliated with the armed forces, urged implicitly or explicitly
in the published accounts to take on the ambassadorial role themselves if
they had not already done so; citizens of countries housing U.S. bases;
critics of the international U.S. military presence; and civilian Americans
on the home front, some of whom felt uneasy about their nations global
display of military power, and others who questioned whether their taxes
should pay for maintaining military families abroad.
Do the unofficial ambassador U.S. military wives warrant the label of
cultural imperialists? Insofar as they were citizens of the most militarily
and economically powerful country in the world, supporting their nations global military dominance, and endeavoring to convince residents
of far less powerful occupied and host nations to accept U.S. military and
foreign policy objectives and persuade them to share Americans anticommunist convictions and appreciate and perhaps adopt aspects of the
American way of life, they were engaged in imperialistic activities. Yet
branding them as cultural imperialists is too simplistic, for one thing
because it obscures the agency of the peoples whom the Americans encountered and tried to persuade. In the process of cultural transfer, people
select and resist aspects of cultures they encounter. Moreover, even between parties of unequal power, cultural influence is not a one-way street,
as we have seen in military wives reception of ideas and customs of occupied and host nation residents.131 Cultural imperialists is also too cumbersome and general a term that does not capture how American womens
attitudes and actions varied depending on locale and historical context. In
Okinawa, for example, maternal imperialists may more accurately describe certain military wives in their interactions with adults and children
between the 1940s and 1960s, while in Germany this term is more apt
during the early years of military occupation (1946 to 1949) than in later
What military wives ambassadorial efforts abroad were not is a
handy fig leaf for naked ambition, to use Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffmans
description of how some view the proclaimed idealism of the United
States in its humanitarian endeavors abroad.133 Conceding that American
A U.S. Ladys World 129

military wives sincerely believed that their exercise of cultural influence

benefited peoples of occupied and host nations is not to assert that they
were not engaged in cultural imperialism; and conceding that the wives
engaged in cultural imperialism does not mean that they were deviously
coating the exercise of U.S. military and economic power with feminine
sweetnessthey were not, and to conceive of it as such is to be blind to
the intricacy of American attitudes and influence abroad.
Examining military wives and their day-to-day encounters with residents of occupied and host countries illuminates the complexity of international power relations in the early Cold War era. Many Americans were
convinced that winning the Cold War was an imperative that required
military strength of an immensity unprecedented in world history, but that
also could be greatly advanced by persuasive feminine demonstrations of
compassion, good will, and cultural interest. In the postWorld War II
period when nations around the world gained independence from colonial
powers, some striving to form democratic governments, and when the
United States principal enemy expropriated the freedoms of its own citizens and threatened those of citizens in neighboring nations, Americans
did not wish to appear as imperialistic exploiters and oppressors but as
benefactors and friends who sensitively aided and attempted to understand other peopleseven though U.S. covert operations as well as public
policies sometimes contradicted this image. Still, foisting American ideals
and objectives on residents of countries housing U.S. bases without consideration for their values and preferences would have contradicted claims
that the United States promoted freedom and self-determination, undermining the alliances crucial to Cold War foreign relations. Ideal military
wives, in extensions of their family roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers, tried to gently guide other peoples toward American ideals and
international political and military goals. Closer studies of relations between American military familiesespecially womenand the people of
West Germany and Okinawa reveal how social, cultural, and power relations played out in these particular contexts.

130 A U.S. Ladys World

Shoulder to Shoulder with
West Germans

In 1946, Lelah Berry and her two young children left Louisville, Kentucky to accompany Army captain Elmer Berry on his tour of
duty in Berlin. Before Elmer Berry joined the armed forces in World War II
he had worked for the Louisville & Nashville railroad. Lelah Berry had
never ventured outside Kentucky. For the first two years of Elmer Berrys
service his family lived in military camps around the United States, setting
up house in cooped-up, ramshackle living quarters, and living on a
careful budget. But in Germany, declared Lelah Berry, The Berrys really never had it so good. The family resided in a spacious German
house, enjoying fresh meat daily, yet put a large portion of Elmer Berrys
salary into savings. Three domestic employees cooked and cleaned, and
cared for the children. When Elmer Berry received a short leave he took
his family on a ten-day dream-come-true holiday in Switzerland arranged by the Army Special Services Division for military personnel.
While the Berrys reveled in this new standard of living, the elderly German couple who owned the house made their home in a nearby garage.
Hundreds of thousands of Berliners suffered from hunger. Throughout the
winter, Lelah Berry witnessed Germans trudging through the cold, shattered city and standing in long lines for their fuel rations.
The stark contrast between American ease and German hardship during the early occupation was not lost on Lelah Berry. We enjoy this scale
of living, as anyone would, she admitted, but compared to the lives of
the Germans around us it is embarrassingly luxurious. Berry tried to
muster resentment of Germans to curb her pity: I dont want to coddle
or whitewash the Germans, and I tell myself over and over, After all, they
started it, they asked for it. Still, even fresh memories of German aggression could not eradicate Berrys compassion for the Berliners: I do not
believe the German people yet accept any responsibility for the war or
Nazi crimes. Just now, however, they are too hungry and too cold to think
much beyond tomorrows or next weeks rations.1

Many Americans in Germany shared Lelah Berrys ambivalence toward

the Germans during the early months of occupation. The Americans were
not yet ready to forgive the Germans for the horrors of World War II, yet
they could not ignore the suffering of shivering and undernourished people. Moreover, although Berry and her compatriots believed that the occupation required a firm stance toward denazifying and democratizing the
defeated Germans, they were uncomfortable in the role of conquerors
over people who did not seem entirely different from themselves.
U.S. military authorities, and American dependents themselves, considered American families key contributors to U.S.West German relations. They factored into military policies in Germany between the end of
World War II and the 1960s. When families first arrived in Germany in
the spring of 1946, military officials expected them to aid in reeducating
Germans and establishing democracy and to demonstrate the intention of
the occupation forces to help, not oppress, their former enemies. American women endeavored to accomplish these objectives in charitable and
community activities and American homes. In their accounts of such interactions, military wives tried to rehabilitate Americans impressions of
Germans and thereby gain support for occupation policies. As the Cold
War developed, another policy use of families emerged. Families came to
represent the U.S. militarys commitment to stand its ground against the
Soviet attempt to take over Berlin, as well as continued resistance to the
feared encroachment of communism in Western Europe in the 1950s and
In 1946, Americans like Lelah Berry had expressed ambivalence toward Germans. But a 1960 Army Information Digest article on community relations by Colonel Morton P. Brooks, the chief of the Information
Division at Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe, captured the ideal of German-American relations that had since emerged. German-American relations were better now than ever before, wrote Brooks, fortified by the
events which made it necessary for Germans and Americans to stand
shoulder to shoulder in defense of their liberties.2 The events invoked
here were the establishment of communism in Eastern Europe in the latter
half of the 1940s, the Berlin Airlift, and the division of Germany into
Eastern and Western states.
In the 1950s and 1960s, family members strived to aid U.S. military
and foreign policy goals by projecting an impression of a staunch alliance
with West Germans against the Soviet Union and communism. Americans
considered West Germany, on the border of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, a crucial Cold War battleground watched by the rest of the world.
Americans described their nations military presence in West Germany as
welcomed, and needed, by Germans. For Americans, the defense of West132 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

ern Europe entailed not only military strength but also the promulgation
of a sense of unity with peoples who shared American values and ideals,
and the commitment to safeguard the free world from communism.
Military wives and husbands portrayals of a firmly anti-communist,
anti-Soviet alliance with West Germans celebrated German-American interactions as warm and anchored in cultural commonalities, and overlooked the tensions that resulted from basing a large American population
in a foreign country. West Germans remained economically and militarily
dependent on the United States after the occupation ended, though U.S.
military and diplomatic objectivesfundamentally the prevention of Soviet dominance of Western Europerequired negotiations with West Germans, who hoped that cooperation with the United States would help
them achieve their own goals of greater autonomy and eventually the reunification of Germany.3 American military families attempts to generate
the impression of an equal alliance with West Germans served as a gloss
to deflect the undemocratic and imperialistic aspects of maintaining bases
and service personnel in Western Europe. The image of Americans and
Germans standing shoulder to shoulder also downplayed Germanys
dependence on the United States while advancing a conception of West
Germans as a rehabilitated people, now trustworthy allies, who deserved
to take their place among the peoples of the free world.

Early Occupation
U.S. military authorities decided to allow families to join service personnel
in 1946 in the belief that they would improve morale, present excellent
examples of American life to the German people, and foster an informal atmosphere for better German-American relations.4 Along with the
dismantling of Germanys war-making capability, the replacement of Nazi
ideology with democratic values topped the list of occupation goals. In
an orientation program for families, a discussion leader informed the
wives, daughters, and sons of personnel that the armed forces designated
them ambassadors of democracy.5 Model American families were to
represent a society that enjoyed prosperity and democracy without persecuting or exploiting other peoples, one that contradicted the Nazi argument that the German peoples needs could be fulfilled through the oppression of Jews and other vulnerable groups, and the acquisition of territories for German Lebensraum. Military leaders hoped that families
would make the occupation more stable and pleasant for troops, and in so
doing, would [impress] upon the peoples of occupied countries an example of democratic family and home life.6 Informal settings such as the
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 133

American home, military leaders expected, would make American attempts to teach democracy to the Germans seem uncontrived rather than
forced, and would undercut German perceptions of Americans as cultural
Rather than leaving American family members to invent their own
ways to teach democracy in encounters with Germans, the United States
Information and Education Service developed an orientation program to
guide them. Children over fourteen and spouses of occupation personnel
met with a military representative for a total of four hours to discuss the
role of families in the occupation mission and their expected relations
with the German people, the Allies, and displaced persons. The facilitator
explained the occupation mission as a complete house-cleaning of not
only German war potentials but also German minds in order that Germany may one day again assume her role in the family of peaceful nations. The family of peaceful nations metaphor for ideal postwar international relations asked participants to envision a world whose nations
pulled together as a family and took care of one another. In 1946, Americans still viewed Germany as a nation (gendered female here) of wayward
children as yet unworthy of trust and incapable of self-discipline; the occupiers were prepared to assume the role of a stern parent-nation.7
Early in the occupation, U.S. military policy assumed that fundamental
ideological differences divided Americans and Germans. The Allied Control Council began to relax nonfraternization laws as early as October
1945, only five months after the cessation of hostilities between Germany
and the Allies, in the hope that informal contacts with Allied nationals
would help to teach democracy to the Germans.8 The discussion leader
for the dependents orientation informed participants of the likelihood
that they would meet a range of Germans, from servants to members of
the upper classes. Family members learned that they might encounter
friendly Germans who were outwardly very much like us, and who
share your tastes in sports, games, books, and music, mutual interests
that could serve as opportunities to show them the American and democratic way of living. But the women and children also were warned that
apparent cultural similarities between Germans and Americans could deceive well-meaning Americans into doubting the occupation mission and
sympathizing with unrepentant Nazis. The discussion facilitator cautioned them to be on guard against not only physical disease but also the
mental disease of Nazi-thinking, said to reveal itself in statements like
Hitler did some good, Nazism was a good idea badly worked out,
and Democracy is bad because you dont feed us; at least we had plenty
to eat under the Nazis. Each participant was admonished to Be a
teacher, not a pupil, to reinforce the status of Americans as conquerors
134 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

and Germans as a defeated people. Lest the American women and children remain unconvinced of the deep ideological differences between
them and the Germans, the last hour of the orientation was devoted to
viewing a documentary titled Here Is Germany, likened by the discussion
leader to horror films, that presented Nazi atrocities such as the bodies of concentration camp victims, and strips away the mask of good
temperament and docility which now hides Germanys crime [. . . and]
shows what the behavior of these kind and gentle people has cost the
world. The films gruesome reminders of Germanys recent brutality indicate the fear that, even so soon after the war, American and German cultural commonalities would lure Americans into a mistaken sense of sympathy for the Germans and endanger occupation goals.9
Despite admonitions to exercise caution and, when necessary, sternness in their informal contacts with Germans, occupation leaders did not
want Americans to be perceived as tyrants. Upon the Allied victory in Europe, General Dwight Eisenhower announced to the German people that
We come as conquerors, but not as oppressors. Because the Americans
wanted to teach the Germans that the whole concept of superiority,
glorification of military power, and intolerance of others is evil and leads
to war, a harsh and vindictive occupation would have contradicted
American goals of establishing democracy, equality, and freedom, declared the cornerstones of the American way of life. Spouses and children
were advised to carefully negotiate relations with Germans. They were to
show no rancor toward their former enemies, even while refusing to
brook Nazi attitudes: Hate will not solve the problem before us; it would
estrange those Germans with whom we can cooperate and it would distort or destroy the democratic objectives we seek.10 Occupation planners
believed that service families, especially women, could show Germans that
patient guidance and compassion, rather than animosity, would characterize the occupation.
Military wives, in accord with the official occupation stance toward
Germans, sought to demonstrate a humane dimension of occupation. Accounts about American women portrayed them as motivated by compassion for the people of Germany. A 1956 U.S. Lady article on the history of
American womens charitable efforts in Europe recounted how in the
desperate days of 1946, Margaret Thompson Biddle, the wife of a former major general and ambassador, invited American wives to her home
in Frankfurt to discuss the plight of Germans and the promotion of international understanding. Over tea, the women discussed their personal
encounters with victims of World War II. Biddle had been especially affected by a baby who had frozen to death in a wet diaper; one simple,
motherly act might have saved this war casualty. Biddle and the others
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 135

found it difficult to look upon the Germans simply as conquered enemies

responsible for their misery. The women devised a plan to collect necessities from friends and relatives in the United States for the underfed and ill
people in the American Zone, including refugees and transient German
mothers and babies. In consultation with the German Red Cross, the
American women also visited families who needed food, clothing, and
medicine. This welfare work constituted the first projects of the American Occupation Womens Voluntary Service, which later became the Conference on American Womens Activities in Europe. In January 1948, as
many as 3,000 American women came together in Kronberg at the first
big conference to find an answer to the question How can we help?11
The womens charity work stemmed from benevolence, yet also emphasized the higher status of the American conquerors over the vanquished Germans. The title of the U.S. Lady article about Margaret
Thompson Biddle, When Mrs. Biddle Poured, and the description of
American occupation wives meeting over tea to discuss the plight of the
unfortunate, conjure an image of noblesse obligeof American aristocrats who gave succor to the pitiful masses of Germany. Furthermore,
the account of the womens welfare work, case work, and visits to
needy families depicts them as social workers who tried to remedy the ills
suffered by those unable to care for themselves. Military wives were, in
fact, acting as unpaid social workers for the armed forces. Not all Germans, however, considered American womens clubs and charitable efforts to be as helpful as Americans liked to believe. Germans of Marburg
criticized womens clubs for failing to use requisitioned gardens productively in spite of American womens pledges to supply hospitals and childrens homes with fresh fruits and vegetables during the food shortages of
the late 1940s. Marburgers were distressed that many gardens either remained unused or were given over to the Americans domestic employees
for personal use.12
Americans also attempted to extend good will and reform Germans
through contacts with children. Military wives and children attending the
1946 orientation program for newly arrived families were told, Wherever and whenever you can, work with German children. They are our
main hope in the reeducation of Germany.13 Hundreds of thousands of
German children encountered Americans in programs affiliated with the
military. At Christmastime in 1948, nearly 1,700,000 German boys and
girls participated in the German Youth Activities program organized by
Americans and Germans.14 In a Frankfurt Girls Center and a Munich
Friendship House, military wives instructed German girls in cooking,
sewing, and housekeeping.15
Occupiers portrayals of Germans as promising candidates for demo136 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

cratic reform attempted to win support for the occupation from the skeptical general American public. Lelah Berry told the Saturday Evening Post
that one of her domestic employees simply cannot grasp the fact that we
didnt all have to vote for Roosevelt, and that many people voted freely
against him, and that She cant understand how every citizen at home
has an interest and plays a role in his Government, demands to know who
runs it and how.16 Berrys anecdote about her maid suggested that Germans were less evildoers than casualties of authoritarian government. In
this perspective, Nazism had deprived them of even comprehending the
concept of participatory democracy; the people could not be despised for
not enacting a political system that they did not understand. Thus, it
would be up to Lelah Berry and other ordinary Americans to teach democracy to the Germans through informal discussions and patient explanations. Berrys narrative provided a description of postwar Germany and
the occupation to Americans thousands of miles away from the occupation zone, and also tried to elicit acceptance for the maintenance of military forces abroad (and their families) from Americans who remained suspicious of Germans and doubted the efficacy of the occupation mission.
Early occupation objectivesto dismantle Germanys industrial capacity to wage war, and purge Nazis through a program executed by occupation officialsgave way surprisingly quickly to a less punitive and more
cooperative approach to rehabilitating Germany. In September 1946, Secretary of State James Byrnes announced that the recovery of the European
economy required the industrial reconstruction of Germany. In November
1947, Byrness successor George Marshall advocated the inclusion of Germany in the European Recovery Program (also known as the Marshall
Plan), arguing that a strong German economy would benefit not only Germans but also all of Europe. U.S. occupation officials also determined that
denazification would be accomplished more effectively by the Germans
themselves, a decision that signaled confidence in the peoples capacity to
shoulder greater responsibility for self-government, and in their willingness to cooperate with the occupying powers.17 The militarys stance regarding Americans interpersonal relations with Germans reflected this
shift to a more cooperative occupation policy. The orientation program
for spouses and children of personnel toned down the reminders of Nazi
atrocities and the warnings to avoid a soft attitude in encounters with
Germans, and schools for American children stressed German language as
part of the curriculum.18
The return of residences to German owners exemplified the policy shift
to a more democratic and nonpunitive occupation. Until 1947, occupation officials believed that the confiscation of property to house personnel
and families and for other military purposes was necessary and appropriShoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 137

ate. From the first, Germans challenged the seizure of their property. In
March 1946, several hundred German women and children in the Stuttgart area protested the requisitioning of homes. Another demonstration
occurred shortly before the arrival of the first military families in April.
Three hundred Germans, upset that a suburb of Stuttgart would be
claimed to house the incoming Americans, demonstrated in front of the
home of the citys burgomeister (mayor). The protestors displayed a sign
that read Dont Rob the Home of Our Children, and voiced fears about
the fate of their gardens, fruit harvests, and furnishings. The Military
Government director of Stuttgart informed the demonstrators that the
Americans would consider the Germans concerns and take only homes
vitally needed for service families, but that the Americans intended to
carry out the current requisitioning plan. Military Government officials
subsequently received instructions from European Theater Headquarters
to announce a prohibition on housing demonstrations.19
Most American families lived in requisitioned apartments and houses
until the late 1940s. Former Nazis were the first to lose their residences
and other buildings, but if these proved insufficient then the military took
property from non-Nazis. Giving up a residence meant relinquishing not
only ones home but also the furnishings and other belongings in it. Germans in the town of Marburg told the story of a Military Government officer who confiscated the family dog along with the home. Marburgers
considered the loss of property to be one of the worst conditions of occupation (second only to the denazification program). Despite the severe
housing shortage, Germans in Marburg were not allowed to live with
Americans in requisitioned residences, even in sections unused by the
Americans. Germans criticized this segregation as debasing and the requisitioning of property as undemocratic. In Air Force communities, security
measures such as barbed wire fences, and later, Polish and German guards
posted to reduce theft and vandalism, perpetuated Americans isolation
from and suspicion of non-Americans. In other communities, however, the
separation of Americans from Germans was less severe. Germans lived in
the basements and upper stories of their houses, while Americans lived in
the main sections of the homes. David Klinger, the son of an Army officer
whose family lived in Bad Nauheim between 1946 and 1947, said that his
father allowed the eighty-year-old widow who owned the home used by
the American family to live on the third floor along with a German couple
who cared for her and also did domestic work for the Klinger family.
Some Germans were allowed use of the gardens on their requisitioned
property. Others visited the American residents of their propertyaccording to an Air Force report, to lend the new tenants a helping hand,
showing the occasionally puzzled Americans little things about the opera138 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

tions of their homesbut also, no doubt, to check on their property and

try to minimize potential damage by the current inhabitants.20
In concession to German demands and to improve German-American
relations, occupation officials began planning in 1947 to return requisitioned property to German owners. Derequisitioning was intended to
demonstrate consideration for the Germans and to alleviate the economic
hardships and housing shortage of the difficult postwar years. Although
U.S. occupation personnel and their families were not the primary cause
of the housing shortage, allowing Germans to take back their residences
showed Americans respect for property ownership and family homes. By
1951, Americans inhabited only one percent of privately owned German
The housing shortage seriously affected the growing population of
American families in Europe, who waited up to one year for permanent
military housing. Although the number of armed forces personnel in the
European Theater had dropped from almost 350,000 in 1946 to about
123,000 in 1949, the number of family members of the Allied forces had
more than quadrupled in this time, from 7,500 to over 33,000.22 The
presence of American families continued to expand in the 1950s: 44,337
dependents of U.S. military and civilian employees resided in Germany in
1950, increasing to 183,896 in 1960.23

Cultivating the German-American Cold War Alliance

The Berlin crisis of 1948 to 1949 illustrates the enlistment of American
families into the Cold War. Approximately 1,000 American spouses and
children of occupation personnel lived in the American zone of Berlin, located 175 miles northeast of the section of Germany controlled by the
U.S. armed forces. U.S. military officials worried about the welfare of
these family members when the Soviets, in an attempt to claim the entire
city, closed off access to the American, British, and French zones in the
spring of 1948. General Lucius Clay, the military governor of the American zone, decided that despite the potential danger it would be politically disastrous to immediately evacuate American spouses and children
of occupation personnel from the city. In a top secret teleconference between General Clay and Army officials in Washington, D.C., Clay stated
that withdrawal of dependents from Berlin would create hysteria accompanied by rush of Germans to communism for safety. He also feared
that the evacuation of families would provide Soviets with propaganda
to the effect that American leaders were preparing for war with the Soviet Union, and that Germanys western neighbors would interpret the
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 139

evacuation as evidence of the U.S. militarys imminent flight from Europe.24 In another teleconference shortly thereafter, General Clay assured
Army officials that we could support the Americans in Berlin indefinitely
with a very small airlift . . . we should not evacuate our dependents.25
General Clay was so deeply committed to keeping American families in
Berlin that he announced his unwillingness to work alongside personnel
who wanted to send their families home. When occupation personnel in
Berlin sought permission for their families to return to the United States,
Clay informed his staff that he considered it unbecoming for an American to show any signs of nervousness, and that those whose families intended to leave Germany would be expected to join them. Clay anticipated a deluge of requests for permission to leave Berlin. To his surprise,
the applications to depart dwindled to a trickle, and most personnel who
had submitted these withdrew them after he made his position clear. According to Clay, most American families remained in Berlin during the
blockade.26 An Army history of the military in Europe pronounced American service members and their families a symbol of American intent to
remain in Berlin and to keep it safe.27
Army Colonel and later Brigadier General Frank Howleys account of
the June 1948 to May 1949 Berlin crisis illustrates how a high-ranking
serviceman conceived of his official decisions as interwoven with a sense
of parental responsibility. His own account of the blockade intertwined
the personal with events of international import. Howley served as deputy
and later commandant of the American sector of Berlin between 1945 and
1949, and as head of the Office of Military Government, Berlin Sector.
His wife, Edith, and their four children lived with him in Berlin. Howleys
1950 chronicle of the Soviet blockade, which he described as an atrocious crime plotted by the cold, inhuman minds of the Kremlin,
opened with an anecdote about a significant decision he made just before
the Soviets blocked access to the zones of the Western allies. Days before
the blockade began, Colonel Howley learned that the Soviets had reneged
on their agreement to exchange milk from Russian cows for American
flour. I am a family man, Howley later wrote, and I could share the
anguish of the German mothers and fathers who were faced with this
dreadful calamity. As commandant of the American sector of Berlin, I
could not let this happen. According to Howley, he saved the day by
bringing in plenty of milk just before Soviet forces blocked access to the
city: I had brought in 200 tons of condensed milk and 150 tons of powdered milk. When the Russians screamed to German mothers over the
radio that the Americans couldnt feed their babies, I fought back over the
air and in the newspapers with a special formula, using prepared milk as a
substitute for fresh milk. Howley proudly declared that thanks to his
140 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

foresightedness, Not one of my babies died! He recalled that as he left

Berlin in 1949, a German mother pushed through a crowd to thank him
for saving her baby from the Russians during the blockade. In his story
about providing milk for the babies of Berlin, Howley cast himself not
only as a high military official but also as a protective, even maternal parent, who would not allow his children to starve.28
The Cold War antagonism that propelled the Soviets and the Western
powers to a showdown in Berlin resulted in the creation of the two
Germanies in 1949. The Soviets established East Germany, known as the
German Democratic Republic, as a communist state. West Germany,
which officially became the Federal Republic of Germany in September
1949, attained a semisovereign status, with the British, French, and American occupiers holding residual authority and maintaining forces in the
new nation. Although Germans in the East and West sought reunification,
the division of Germany lasted four decades, until the end of the Cold
For the remainder of the occupation and thereafter, Americans in military families contributed to the U.S. objective of opposing the spread of
Soviet influence and communism in Western Europe by promulgating
AmericanWest German unity. West Germany was a Cold War battlefront, the site of military as well as ideological competition. Vernon Pizer
and Perry Hume Davis II, servicemen who authored a 1955 guidebook for
military families stationed abroad, declared that The American in Germany today is watching history made. Germany is the battleground between our way of life and Communism. Americans in West Germany felt
a strong sense of participation in what they considered a grand struggle
beheld by the rest of the world. Pizer and Davis cast the Soviets in the role
of villain, and the Americans as the heroes of the Cold War epic: While
Russia still occupies East Germany, with all of the restrictions the term
implies, in West Germany our troops are at once friends and allies to people they were fighting just a few years ago.30 The themes of friendship
and alliance between Americans and Germans, which emerged frequently
in American accounts, attempted to justify to Americans at home the large
and expensive U.S. military presence in Western Europe, and to portray it
to the rest of the world, and to West Germans, not as martial dominance
but as a stouthearted measure to preserve democracy and economic freedom among allies who did not consider themselves oppressed by the
United States, unlike the peoples of Soviet-controlled states. In depicting
West Germans as worthy Cold War allies, Americans in military families
helped advance the U.S. governments cases for West Germanys eventual
sovereignty, membership in NATO, and rearmament.
American family members promotion of equal partnership between
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 141

West Germany and the United States also appealed to Germans sense of
dignity, helping to gain their acceptance of the expansion of U.S. forces in
West Germany in the early 1950s and the continuation of the U.S. military presence well after the end of occupation. In 1950, under 89,000 U.S.
forces personnel (military and civilian) were stationed in Germany. The
outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 led to the Truman administrations decision to fortify Western Europe against possible Soviet aggression there (which strategists feared could occur if the Soviets perceived the
U.S. military and its allies as pinned down in Korea). U.S. military and
civilian personnel in West Germany swelled to 317,500 by 1952, then decreased to under 226,000 by the end of the decadestill more than double what they had been in 1950.31 Although many West Germans were
convinced that they needed the U.S. forces as a defense against Soviet
encroachment, the large foreign military presence and the concomitant
requisitioning of land for U.S. bases exacerbated the feeling of being an
occupied and subordinate nation.32 In his discussion of the psychological
effects of security dependency on West Germans, political scientist
Daniel Nelson observes that No person individually or no people collectively enjoys being dependent upon someone else for protection or security, and that frustration and resentment born of dependency can excessively strain the security relationship.33 U.S. military public relations officials sought to reduce West Germans sense of occupation by urging
commanders to help promote an image of unity among Western European
and U.S. forces.34
With the entrenchment of the Cold War, the Soviets supplanted the
Germans as enemies of the United States and its allies. Frank Howleys account of the Berlin blockade ranked the Soviets among the most infamous
villains in world history. The blockade, wrote Howley, was a wicked decision, the most barbarous in history since Genghis Khan reduced the conquered cities to pyramids of skulls. In order to retain their tottering control of Berlin, undermined by the development of democratic processes,
they decided to starve the Germans into revolt against the Western powers
and thus drive us out.35 This condemnation of the Soviets, whose actions
in Eastern Europe Howley likened to the bloody Mongol invasions of the
thirteenth century, not only reinvented the Soviets as barbaric Eastern
others, but it also blotted out Germanys still fresh crimes against humanity: the Holocaust; the imprisonment, torture, and murder of millions
of other victims of Nazism (including communists); and the incitement
of a world war in which millions died, including twenty million Soviets.
Within a few years after the wars end, Americans had reconceived of
Germans as their staunch ally against the Soviet Union and generally tried

142 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

to avoid undermining this alliance with references to past atrocities and

For the most part, West Germans believed in the need for protection
provided by the United States against potential Soviet aggression and the
spread of communism. The vindictiveness of Soviet military personnel in
their occupation zone contrasted with the friendlier, if by no account flawless, behavior of U.S. service personnel. Furthermore, the postwar establishment of communism in Eastern European nations, the Soviet blockade
of Berlin, and the Korean War fueled West German fears of Soviet designs
on their region. Most West Germans, having to decide between Soviet
or American domination, with independence not yet an option, judged
it in their best interest to side with the United States. The Berlin Airlift
had boosted West Germans and Americans confidence in one another
and fostered a strong sense of cooperation. The Berliners self-rationing,
stricter than that demanded by the American Military Government, had
impressed the Americans. And the airlift convinced West Germans of the
Americans intention to defend them.36
West Germans support of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the
leading political party between 1949 and 1969, indicated a willingness to
cooperate with the United States politically, economically, and militarily.
Konrad Adenauer, the leader of the CDU and chancellor of West Germany
from 1949 to 1963, and his party colleagues developed a pro-United
States, pro-free market, anti-communist policy approved by a majority of
Germans. Adenauer, like most Germans, hoped for reunification with East
Germany, but believed that in the meantime cooperation and integration
with the Western powers would allow the West Germans greater independence than would an orientation toward the Soviet Union. In contrast to
the CDU, which won more votes than any other party during the 1950s
(and a majority in the 1957 elections), West Germanys Communist Party
obtained only a small percentage of votes (5.7 percent in 1949, 2.2 percent in 1953). The United States, the CDU, and less powerful pro-American political parties in West Germany forged strong economic and military alliances. West Germanys political and economic stability relied on
American aid, investments, and trade. Confidence in the West Germans
as solid allies of the Western powers manifested itself in the proposed rearmament of West Germany in 1952 and its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the end of occupation and the
attainment of full sovereignty in 1955. In 1957, after negotiations in
NATO, the United States placed nuclear weapons systems in West Germany, with the warheads under American control.37 Although most West
Germans opposed housing nuclear weapons, public opinion polls in the

Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 143

late 1950s and 1960s showed that they continued to support the U.S. military presence and their nations foreign policy orientation toward the
United States.38

From Assistance . . .
Military families, especially wives, strived to demonstrate the American
commitment to assist Germans in the reconstruction and defense of their
country. Although economic conditions in West Germany improved remarkably during the 1950s, American women continued to engage in
charitable activities that aided some Germans as well as refugees from
Eastern Europe. Such activities contradicted communist critiques of the
United States: that the American democratic capitalist system fostered
greed, selfishness, and hedonism, and that the United States used its
power to exploit weaker peoples. Accounts of American charity also suggested that the U.S. presence in Western Europe provided not only military protection but also much-needed material help for those still recovering from World War II. As evidence of the engagement of American
personnel and their families in President Eisenhowers People-to-People
project, military officials pointed to the social and welfare efforts of
womens clubs in Germany. The clubs (300 in Germany, according to
Headquarters, European Command) gave food, clothing, and Christmas
gifts to orphans, families, villages, refugees, hospitals, and the elderly,
including Holocaust victims.39 In Berlin, members of the Non-Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Mens Wives Club worked at the OskarHelene-Heim (Home) for disabled children; a group of Air Force wives
stationed at Tempelhof Central Airport helped to support a small local orphanage.40 The Wiesbaden Officers Wives Club, whose 800 members included wives of American and allied officers, wives of government civilian
employees, teachers, and women officers stationed in Wiesbaden, donated
clothes and other necessities to an orphanage for boys and a home for
the elderly.41 American military personnel and their spouses who wanted
to make friends with German children and help those from broken
homes experience some of childhoods joys formed a group called The
Friendly Hand. The couples invited the children into their homes and
sponsored them in summer camps to [teach] the new German generation
about Americans.42 In other areas of Germany, American families and
soldiers who adopted children and orphanages visited the youngsters
and gave them food, clothing, and Christmas gifts.43 Donations of food
and clothing denoted American prosperity, signaling that here was a people who enjoyed an excess of the things they gave to the less affluent.
144 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

During the 1950s, womens charitable activities became more explicitly

connected to anti-communist objectives. Americans intended to aid Germans not only materially, but also ideologically, and hoped that GermanAmerican interpersonal relations rooted in anti-communism would bond
the nations of the free world. An article on the volunteer work shared by
American and allied women described their charitable activities in terms
of uniting against communism. According to the article, the womens volunteer efforts helped to fulfill the ever-present necessity for good foreign
relations good will, neighborly communication and the exchange of
ideas to prevent the spread of Communism. The Wives Club of the
Sixth Infantry in Berlin donated clothing to refugees from East Germany.
The American Womens Club of Berlin awarded scholarships to students
at the Free University in West Berlin, established in 1948 by faculty and
students who had left East Berlin. Womens clubs also distributed food,
clothing, and medical supplies to refugees from Hungary and other Eastern European countries in the Soviet bloc.44
Military wives assistance to German women who had given birth to
children fathered by American servicemen represented the hands-on sharing of responsibility with Germans for the consequences of stationing a
large population of foreign men in their country. Many womens club
members performed volunteer work on behalf of GI babies. In Mannheim, eight African-American Army wives formed a Child Welfare Group
in 1948; by 1950, their number had grown to thirty-five. The women established a work space (provided by the Central Billeting Office of the
Army) to which German mothers brought their children weekly and received donations of food, money, and other necessities. The commander
of the Heidelberg Military Post allowed the service wives to open an account with the commissary there to obtain nonrationed food, and the African-American chaplain for Mannheim, who referred German women to
the welfare program, offered financial assistance. In addition to providing
for the childrens basic needs, the Army wives also gave Easter and Christmas parties for all mixed-race children of unwed mothers in the area, and
their white siblings. The Child Welfare Group assisted approximately 150
children. Many fathers of German-American children, however, helped
support their children and declined aid from the womens group.45
Many Americans adopted children born of German women and American fathers. Mary Sawyer, the wife of an Air Force sergeant stationed at
Spangdahlem Air Base in 1953, was one of the few noncommissioned officers wives featured as a U.S. Lady-of-the-Month. She had cofounded a
noncommissioned officers wives club in France in 1952; in Germany, she
worked with a welfare committee that aided a local orphanage. The
plight of the children who had been fathered by American GIs and left to
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 145

grow up in kinderheims tore at my heart, Sawyer recalled. [The welfare

committee] bought a bolt of outing flannel and I made nightdresses and
nightshirts galore. We arranged for Father Christmas to visit and we
brought personal gifts, candy and fruit for each child. There were something like 150 children on the list. As I worked with these children a great
desire was born in my heart to take a child home to Bob. The Sawyers
eventually adopted a three-month-old baby and helped other American
couples prepare for adoptions. White couples who adopted mixed-race
children, however, faced anti-miscegenation laws if they intended to return to states that enforced such legislation.46
Servicemen, like service wives, advanced an image of American relations with German children rooted in the promise of the benefits Germans
would one day enjoy as a result of their alliance with Americans. Army
Signal Corps Captain Joseph Boyle wrote and filmed a story for the armed
forces television station about his familys relationship with a German girl
named Gudrun Paskarbis, who was fourteen in 1956. Gudruns father
had been killed during World War II. The Boyle family hosted Gudrun in
their home for a month, giving the American father the opportunity to
capture her reactions to typically American things such as bubble gum,
hot dogs, and baseball. Captain Boyle filmed scenes used for a television
program titled The Friendly Hand, as part of an Army-sponsored series, The Big Picture, produced by the military for Armed Forces Radio
and Television and broadcast to all stations in their domain. Boyle appeared in the program as a warmhearted Army sergeant, rather than in
his actual higher rank of captain, whose friendly hand reached out
across a generation of conflict to bring happiness to a young girl.47 Perhaps by representing himself as an enlisted man rather than a commissioned officer, Boyle intended to convey the message that all ordinary
Americans, not simply the elite, wished to share the tokens of American
prosperityenjoyments like baseball and bubble gumwith the German
people. The description of the television program suggested a one-sided
acculturation, however: the German girl became Americanized, but it is
not apparent that the American family became Germanized.

. . . to Commonality and Reciprocity

In addition to trying to establish themselves as material and cultural benefactors to Germans, Americans also proclaimed alliances with them
grounded in cultural commonalities. American families who arrived in
Germany in 1946 had been told to regard with suspicion apparent German-American similarities in clothing, housing, aesthetic taste, and appre146 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

ciation for nature. The German, the orientation program facilitator had
warned them, . . . disarms us with his culture.48 The same cultural similarities that seemed potentially dangerous shortly after the war were invoked by the end of the decade as evidence of deep bonds between Germans and Americans. Declarations of German-American cultural alliance
were intended to ensure Germans and Americans support for the U.S.
military presence in West Germany and reinforce the nations anti-Soviet
alliance. Underscoring American and German cultural affinities contributed to a sense of moral unity in the Cold War struggle. Furthermore,
Americans and West Germans alike found it advantageous to imagine
Nazism as an aberration in German history. Americans, not wishing to
appear imperialistic and undemocratic, upheld West Germany not as a
U.S. military colony but as an ally that shared the same traditions and
ideals, while Germans wanted to distance themselves from the Nazi past
and establish a basis for their claim to national independence. After the
end of occupation, West Germany still depended on the United States for
help with military defense, but the idea of an equal alliance fostered by the
emphasis on cultural commonality deemphasized inequalities that neither
Americans nor West Germans wanted to advertise.
Americans, and Germans too, appealed to Christianity as fundamental
to the unity of democratic countries. A 1948 Army booklet on the goals
of the occupation expressed optimism that Germany was on the path to
democracy because of its cultural foundations in Judeo-Christianity.49
Through demonstrating Christian piety, Americans believed that Germans
might find forgiveness for their nations sins. By doing so, they could
prove their worthiness and their willingness to cooperate within the democratic family of nations. In 1958, three years after the attainment of full
sovereignty, Federal Republic of Germany president Theodor Heuss assumed an alliance grounded in Christianity among the United States, West
Germany, and other democratic nations in his address to the U.S. Congress: It is my firm conviction that the peoples of the free worlddeeply
rooted as they are in the Christian faithpossess the moral strength to
maintain their position and uphold their ideals.50
Christian worship became a milieu where Americans tried to demonstrate fellowship with Germans. Military officials at some commands
urged Americans to attend German churches. In the 1950s, Germans and
Americans came together in a Kaiserslautern church to hear Christmas
music performed by choirs from the U.S. military community. Germans
and Americans led church services, sang together in choirs, and sat together in church assemblages.51 An informational article describing life
for military families stationed in the Frankfurt-Wiesbaden area mentioned
the numerous beautiful German Churches that families could attend.52
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 147

Another article for families in Heidelberg extolled the joint GermanAmerican Easter Sunrise service at a stone amphitheater on the Heiligenberg, built on a site used by Celts, Romans, and Germans for religious
Of all Christian observances, Americans favored Christmas as the most
fruitful for substantiating German-American cultural and political commonality. Many American Christmas traditions, including caroling and
gift-giving, had originated in Europe. During the early- to mid-nineteenth
century, German immigrants had helped popularize the custom of decorating evergreens in American homes at Christmastime.54 Over a century later, members of the Adjutant Generals Wives Club in Heidelberg
sought to reinforce German-American unity against the Soviets in a
Christmas celebration for the wives of thirty-five German prisoners of
World War II still in the Soviet Union. The fate of the POWs plagued the
Germans until the Soviets finally released the last 9,626 captives in October 1955. To demonstrate her commitment to people-to-people friendship, Dorothy Easely, the wife of an Army general, hosted the party for
the prisoners wives in her home. Easely and the other American women
created a festive atmosphere with food, holiday decorations, and presents.
The party was a metaphor for the American conception of the United
States as defined against the Soviet Union: Americans offered gaiety, entertainment, and abundance as opposed to the hopelessness and dreariness
suffered by those imprisoned on the other side of the Iron Curtain, citizens of Soviet-controlled countries as well as prisoners of war. Easely pronounced her party a resounding success. Despite the language barrier,
the American and German wives suddenly found a common ground in
the singing of age-old Christmas carols and the party ended with tears of
pleasure in many eyes.55 The partys hosts hoped to convey generosity toward and sympathy for the women robbed of normal family life by the
Soviets who imprisoned their husbands, and to affirm the German-American ideological commitment against communism.
Germans also made friendly gestures to Americans at Christmastime,
and worked alongside them on holiday projects. Suzanne Shea, a military wife whose family lived in the town of Bad Kreuznach in 1952, said
that German women gave ornate gingerbread houses to American families as a gesture of welcome and neighborliness.56 Germans in the
state of Rhineland-Palatinate recalled that they made Christmas cookies
with their American housemates and neighbors.57 German and American
women also worked together on Christmas charity projects. In Heidelberg, the women of the German-American Club organized a Christmas
fair, the big club event of the year, to fund welfare activities.58
According to Suzanne Shea, her experience in Germany at Christmas148 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

time altered her perception of the season and reshaped her familys Christmas traditions. This assertion countered accusations that American cultural imperialism in such forms as jazz and Hollywood movies degraded
the cultures of non-American countries, and challenged assumptions that
cultural transfer occurred in one direction, from the more powerful to
the less powerful society.59 Shea and other Americans in Bad Kreuznach
learned about German traditions such as the December 5 visit of Saint
Nicholas and Schwartz Peter. The American families added Advent
Kraenze (evergreen wreaths topped with candles) and crches (wooden
representations of the Nativity)the loveliest, hand-carved, sensitively
wrought creations imaginablepurchased in Oberammergau. Shea described the German Christmas spirit as superior to the feverish activity
and frantic haste found in the United States: Among the German people
in the little town of Bad Kreuznach, there was more the feeling that we
were approaching a spiritual event; happy and exciting, yes, but not in the
material, commercialized way into which we have fallen, too much, in
America. The emphasis was on the Church and the Nativity; and everything was, somehow, simpler and more peaceful.60 Sheas depiction of
Christmas in the German town evokes an image of a society that had successfully resisted the taint of modernity, and undercut allegations that the
U.S. military presence brought with it the destruction of traditional cultures. In Sheas telling, the transcendent spirituality of the people of Bad
Kreuznach trumped American bustle and materialism.
In addition to spontaneous interactions, military wives believed that
womens club activities with Germans would solidify their international
alliance through cultural and social exchanges. German and American
women together engaged in flower arrangement, arts and crafts, a book
club, a theater group, bowling, a cooking club, language study clubs, theater clubs, and excursions. Hundreds of women from various nations became members of the Berlin-based Internationale Frauen Gruppe (International Womens Group), whose activities included attendance at concerts, art galleries, and exhibitions. The group proved so popular that
those applying for membership added their names to a long waiting list.
The German-American Club of Heidelberg brought together 130 American and 106 German women to make acquaintanceships and engage in
community and welfare activities and cultural exchange. Smaller groups
met in members homes to pursue more focused interests, such as language study (German, French, Italian, and English), bridge, excursions to
nearby sites, monthly discussions of stimulating topics of the day, and
cookingexperimenting with each others national recipes.61
Although American women tried to show appreciation of European
cultures, they also considered it their mission to display American ideals,
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 149

exemplified by the American home. Dorothy Easely devised a plan to display a model American home to a wide audience of Germans. The organizers of the German Baden-Wuerttemberg State Homemakers Fair had
invited the American Womens Club of Heidelberg, where the fair would
be held in 1956, to create an exhibition. Easely considered this a means
to establish Direct and friendly contact . . . with the people of the community in which the American forces were living. She acquired two
booths to execute her vision of the ideal exhibit: a typical American
kitchen featuring housewives preparing American dishes, and also a living room where women made crafts, sewed outfits, and performed common household activities. Although the exhibit originally had been
Easelys brainchild, American officials quickly seized upon it as an important public relations event. The United States Information Service, an
agency that arranged for cultural exchange and information programs in
foreign countries, took an interest in the exhibit and provided a fully
equipped kitchen, which the Army Transportation Division and Engineer
Section transported and installed. The Quartermaster of the Area Headquarters Command pitched in an authentic furnished living room, complete with fireplace, mantle, and simulated windows that looked out to a
garden view.
The exhibition of the American home also served, in the military wives
minds, as an opportunity for the German and American women at the fair
to reinforce their sense of a shared domestic standardspecifically, a
clean house. The night before the fair opened, the American women impressed the German housewives in the adjacent booth by thoroughly
cleaning the display. According to Easely, the housecleaning proved a
fruitful point of cultural contact, spawning such a strong rapport between
the German and American women that we didnt have to speak the language.62 The assertion that the act of cleaning communicated the German and American womens mutual understanding on a level more fundamental than language reveals American approval of Germans as a clean,
home-oriented, and therefore civilized and respectable people.
Americans frequently invoked the idea that they shared with Germans
a common culture rooted in domestic ideals. A 1955 Air Force guides description of Germans as A religious, home-loving race whose family life
revolve[d] around the mother and wife closely resembled American
domestic ideals of the 1950s. A U.S. Lady short story about a GermanAmerican friendship used the theme of Christmas to illustrate the two
peoples mutual appreciation for family. In Christmas at Sea, a German
landlady, Frau Pretsel, cries over the departure of a newlywed American
service couple whom she considers her adopted children. She gives

150 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

Carol and Harry a present to open on Christmas day, while they are at
sea, en route to the United States. Carol wallows in self-pity because she is
stuck on a ship during the holidays, rather than home in the United States
with her relatives. But upon opening the gifta small decorated Christmas treethe American woman realizes that no matter where she is, the
most important thing is to be with her husband for their First Family
Christmas Together, in Frau Pretsels words. It is the gift from the German adoptive mother that lifts Carols spirits and replaces her self-pity
with appreciation for family togetherness through the shared GermanAmerican symbol of the Christmas tree.63
Just as the display of the American home promoted both commonality
and American superiority, so did the exhibition of the American family.
While Americans attempted to generate an impression of unity with Germans anchored in love of family, they also presented gender relations they
believed were more egalitarian than in German families. A Department of
Defense guide described Germany as more of a mans world than is the
United States. According to the guide, the father is generally boss in the
home.64 Servicemen stationed in Germany with their spouses engaged in
domestic tasks that allowed Germans to observe American men as family
men. In Rhineland-Palatinate, American men who assisted their wives
with meal preparations impressed German women.65 At the homemaker
fair that featured Dorothy Easelys American home exhibit, attendees considered one of the highlights a cooking contest among German and American men, with the American men preparing spaghetti and sukiyaki to
show their multicultural versatility.66
Military wives tried to counterbalance the showcasing of American superiority through gestures that emphasized reciprocity in German-American relations. Barbara Griffith did this in an account published in U.S.
Lady about her first meeting with her German maid, Ernestine Schmidt,
and the development of their relationship over the course of a few
months. When Schmidt first arrived at Griffiths home, neither of them
spoke the others language well. Griffith said that while her German improved over the subsequent weeksmy German vocabulary grew like
the national debtSchmidt did not seem to learn more English. Upon
finding Schmidt perusing a Sears cataloga symbol of American abundance and choicein amazement at all of the goods offered, Griffith decided to order some of the items as a birthday gift for Schmidt. Upon receiving the presents, Schmidt burst into English sentencesher surprise
gift to Griffith. Barbara Griffiths story conveyed the message that patience and sharing American access to consumer goods with the German
people would result in sincere efforts from Germans to reciprocate with

Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 151

friendship and would provide a basis for more egalitarian West German
U.S. relations, rather than an association based primarily on American
In learning German, military family members conveyed a sense of reciprocity in German-American relations. The Army encouraged spouses
and children to learn local languages, and the armed forces offered classes
in German. To promote learning one anothers languages, the members of
the German-American Club of Wiesbaden contrived a plan whereby at
weekly meetings, the American women were to speak only German, and
the German women, only English. A 1952 survey of 215 spouses in Wiesbaden 115 officers wives, eighty-seven airmens wives, and thirteen
civilian wivesfound that upon arriving in Germany, 168 women could
not speak German at all, twenty-one knew very little German, and
three considered themselves fluent speakers. While in Germany, forty-five
of the women attended military-sponsored Information and Education
language classes, thirteen engaged private tutors for language lessons, and
110 said they had picked up German. Although most of the women did
not become fluent, a majority claimed to have learned to communicate in
the language, albeit to a limited extent: six said that they spoke German
almost as well as English; thirty-six considered themselves able to carry
on an ordinary conversation; one hundred and thirty-one said that their
knowledge of German was limited to greetings and asking questions; and
only twenty reported that they still could not speak any German. The
1960 census reported that 45,740 of the 327,446 dependents of service
personnel stationed in Europe and the USSR the majority of whom
would have lived in West Germanyclaimed to speak the local language.
Although according to these figures only fourteen percent of service family members spoke the local language, the majority of those who said they
did were adult females, most of whom would have been service wives
(though some probably were adult daughters). Just two percent (1,940) of
dependent males out of a population of 107,110 (most likely the sons of
service personnel) claimed to speak the local language, whereas twenty
percent of females (43,800 out of a total of 220,336) said that they did.
Only 2,138 of the female local-language speakers fell into the fourteen-toseventeen years age range, while the rest (41,662) were eighteen years of
age or older.68 The census data support the assertion that pressure to fulfill
domestic and international duties encouraged military wives to learn the
local language and show that the American presence relied on cultural
Some Americans claimed that they managed to convey friendliness well
enough without speaking German. Anne Lachaussee, an Army wife, lived
among Germans in a Berlin apartment building with her husband, Bob,
152 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

a platoon sergeant, and their two children. The Lachaussees neighbors

were mostly older Germans who expressed friendliness to the American
family by smiling and offering fruit and candy to the children. Lachaussee
shopped and took walks with her children in town, and in so doing
demonstrated an interest in her surroundings, refusing to remain completely isolated from Germans with whom she could not converse. Americans who did not speak German sometimes befriended Germans who
spoke English. Anne Lachaussee, for instance, found a friend in a younger
English-speaking neighbor, whom she met for kaffee klatches and dinner. An Air Force guide praised Germans who spoke English as good
hosts. Depictions of friendly relations between Americans and Germans
as transcending language barriers, and commendations of Germans who
did speak English, reinforced the idea that Germans welcomed Americans
and were eager to express their welcome, with or without language.69

Isolated Little Americas?

Living among Germans, as Anne Lachaussee and her family did, rather
than in military base housing made German-American contacts more
likely. During the 1950s, numerous friendships resulted from American
and German families living closely to one another. In her study of relations between the U.S. military and Germans in Rhineland-Palatinate in
the 1950s, Maria Hhn found that Americans with the military in urban
areas such as Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich were more segregated from
Germans than in more rural Rhineland-Palatinate, where she describes
German-American contacts as intimate. Because of the housing shortage on military bases, many Americans in Rhineland-Palatinate lived in
German communities, and Germans rented out rooms to Americans. In
some off-base communities, a third or more of the residents were Americans. The close contact led to shared meals, holiday preparations, and
trips to the countryside in American cars (because many Germans did not
own cars). Germans seemed to find the presence of American couples
more agreeable than single GIs, probably because many Germans disapproved of liaisons between American men and German women.70
Accounts from historians of the U.S. armed forces in Germany contradicted military wives depictions of regular and warm encounters between Germans and Americans. Harold Zink, the former chief historian
for the United States High Commissioner for Germany, claimed in 1957
that Americans, both military and civilian, lived in Germany but were
never a part of the German community. According to Zink, Americans
segregated themselves from Germans from the beginning to the end of
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 153

occupation. As evidence of this alleged segregation, Zink pointed to barracks and family homes cordoned off by barbed wire until 1947, the development of U.S. military communities, and what he perceived as Americans lack of interest in German-American clubs. Yet Zink also stated that
No one can question that Americans, being ubiquitous, were much in
the German eye, and that Americans, despite all their idiosyncrasies
and weaknesses, were regarded more as friends by the German people
than as soldiers or policemen of a foreign power.71 The apparent contradictions in Zinks accountthat Americans lived and socialized apart
from Germans, yet were ubiquitous and regarded as friendsmight
have stemmed from an underestimation of the impressions made in casual contacts between Americans and Germans, especially those involving
American women and children in settings other than military-sponsored
clubs. The purview of American families activities was much wider than
Zink might have imagined.
A later (1964) assessment of military relations with West Germans by
Army historian D. J. Hickman speculated that German-American encounters occurred more frequently in the first years of occupation than in
subsequent decades. Large-scale construction of apartment buildings for
Americans began in the late 1940s, in self-contained military communities
that included schools, shopping centers, recreational and athletic facilities, and chapels. Despite concerns that German-American contacts would
dwindle, military planners determined that it would be less expensive to
build separate American communities rather than units for Americans in
German neighborhoods. In Hickmans view, the rise of American military communities, though intended to remedy the housing shortage and
improve German-American relations through the return of requisitioned
residences, resulted in fewer contacts between Americans and Germans.
According to his report, Little Americas, such as Mark Twain Village
and Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg, culturally and socially segregated Americans from Germans: Provided with practically everything he
needed to live comfortably, the American soldier and his family could
serve an entire tour in Germanyand in some cases in France and Italy
and face no real need to learn the local language or to become interested
in local customs.72
No doubt the establishment of military communities housing large
populations of Americans shaped opportunities for German-American relations. Yet that as of 1960 as many as thirty-five percent of adult female
armed forces dependents (most of whom would have been military
wives) in Europe and the USSR spoke local languages attests to sustained
intercultural contact.73 Military wives published accounts that set forth
ideals of German-American relations did not necessarily mirror actual re154 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

As this depiction of a military post exchange in Germany indicates,

U.S. military bases were not sealed off from host nation peoples.
Source: Walt Howard and Dick Wolf, Dependents Dilemmas in
Deutschland (Germany, 1964), 11.

lations; nevertheless, they certainly demonstrated the range of interactions

which did take place between Americans and Germans. The armed forces
employed Germans on bases; families employed maids and gardeners;
American children interacted with German teachers in the classroom and
with German children on field trips and in school exchanges; and American families took excursions throughout the country. Indeed, the authors
of military prescriptive literature were aware that social interactions between Americans and host nationals occurred in off-base shops, churches,
and other venues, and considered such encounters influential in shaping
perceptions of Americans and their military. To overlook these contacts is
to neglect a significant dimension of Cold War international relations.

Falling Short
American contacts with Germans sometimes resulted in successful expressions of friendliness, other times in misunderstandings or resentment. In
some instances, American deportment offended Germans and risked alienating them. Even seemingly harmless actions could injure feelings or
deeply offend. A U.S. Lady article illustrated this by relating an anecdote
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 155

about how an American couple had declined the cognac offered them by a
German couple whom they were visiting. Later, after the couples had developed a closer friendship, the American couple learned that the rejection
of the cognac had hurt their hosts feelings. The lesson underscored that
such informal interactions held international significance. The Americans
were not simply dinner guests; they were guests in the country. Other
differences between German and American mores caused consternation
among Germans. For example, Germans perceptions of Americans as immodest could fuel fears of uncontrolled sexuality. An American employee
at an Army hospital told of a German coworker who expressed her dismay at seeing her scantily clothed American neighbors, who in her eyes
were essentially naked, when they came home from an outing on a
lake. When the American attempted to explain that in the United States
men could wear t-shirts and women could wear shorts in public, his coworker rejected the notion as ill-mannered and disgraceful.74 Germanborn officers wife Elizabeth Dallmeier LaMantias criticisms of American
military wives allegedly unrefined behaviorpartying, drinking, wearing
immodest clothing, neglecting housekeeping and childrearingalso revealed fears about the breaching of class boundaries when American
women conducted themselves in a manner she considered to be below
their station.75 LaMantias perspective shows how Americans informal
behavior, rather than conveying to Germans what Americans considered
to be their freer way of life, could come across as debauched and might
even undermine U.S.West German cultural relations. Fears of the sexuality of American neighbors also beset Germans in Rhineland-Palatinate
who circulated a rumor that American housewives had seduced young
German handymen.76 Perceived sexual immodesty not only offended Germans because such behavior revealed insensitivity to German standards of
behavior, but also because it made manifest the power imbalance inherent
in the toleration of a large foreign population and its military bases out of
a sense of economic and military necessity.
One impression that American families made on observers abroad that
is corroborated by numerous accounts, American and non-American
alike, is that Americans with the military were quite well-off, which contributed to the image of Americans in general as a prosperous people. The
novel Out of the Shelter tells the story of a sixteen-year-old British boy
who in 1951 leaves his lower-middle-class family and the bleakness of
postwar London to visit his older sister, an employee of the American occupiers in Heidelberg. Author David Lodge described the book as probably the most autobiographical of my novels, in that he based much of the
story on actual visits to his aunt, who worked as a secretary for the U.S.

156 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

Army in Heidelberg. The experience among the Americans, wrote Lodge,

gave him
a privileged foretaste of the hedonistic, materialist good life that the British, and most of the other developed or developing nations of the world,
would soon aspire to, and in some measure enjoy: a life of possessions,
machines and diversions, of personal transportation, labour-saving devices, smart cheap clothing, mass tourism, technologically based leisure
and entertainmentmaking available to a large section of society pleasures formerly restricted to a tiny minority. Is this a new freedom for man,
or a new enslavement?77

Many military wives believed that showing off American homes

equipped with the latest appliances and plentifully stocked with groceries
would help persuade visitors of the superiority of the American way of
life, particularly in contrast to life under communism. Residents of occupied and host nations indeed noticed Americans plenitude, but the reactions could be negative as well as positive. For example, conservative Germans in Rhineland-Palatinate worried that the American cultural effects
and attitudes that accompanied the U.S. military presence would damage
German society and culture. German social workers feared that rural
women who worked on U.S. bases and in American homes would succumb to consumerism, spending their earnings unwisely in an attempt
to emulate the American way of life. In her accreditation thesis, a social worker asserted that exposure to American homes would confuse
German maids about their station in life, and upset traditional class
Hhns study of Germans living near U.S. bases in Rhineland-Palatinate in the 1950s found that, in general, interviewees who had encountered American families held a positive view of them. Germans who actually interacted with American familiesas opposed to social conservatives and intellectuals who disapproved of the U.S. military presence but
did not necessarily have contact with individual Americansgenerally
considered Americans to be friendly and generous, and behaved in kind.
Yet whereas many Germans early in the occupation had identified with
African Americans as victims of white Americans prejudices, by the latter part of the 1950s, they were expressing their distress over the alleged
immorality engendered by the U.S. military presence by vilifying African-American GIs, the German women who socialized with them, and
the Jewish owners of bars and pubs frequented by blacks. Throughout
the occupation and into the 1960s, white American servicemen abetted

Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 157

Germans racism by treating black GIs with contempt, harassing AfricanAmerican men in the company of German women, and threatening to
boycott German businesses that served blacks, despite Trumans desegregation order and the illegality of segregation in German law. Although
some Germans recall their surprise as they encountered the deeply troubled racial relations of the soldiers being played out in the streets of their
towns and villages, white Americans unabashed displays of racism justified in many Germans minds their own bigotry as a natural response to
blacks rather than a dangerous and shameful remnant of Nazi racial ideology. Thus, argues Hhn, Germans envisioned their alliance with America as foremost an alliance between two white nations.79
Germans anxiety toward single African-American soldiers was a response shared by German townspeople who encountered them, as well as
politicians who exploited fears of German women dating African-American GIs to decry the U.S. military presence in their country. African-American personnel accompanied on their tours of duty by their wives and children were more welcome by Rhineland-Palatinate Germans than were
unmarried black personnel. Whereas Germans felt threatened by single
African-American servicemen whom they stereotyped as sexual predators,
they more readily befriended African-American couples and children, and
shared houses and excursions with them. Hhn says that although friendships did develop between Germans and African-American families, in
general, Germans grudgingly accepted the black families who moved
into their towns, ate in their restaurants, or shopped in their stores.80
Although military planners who arranged for families to join servicemen overseas after World War II assumed that spouses and children
would establish normal family life and create an environment that discouraged American mens fraternization with local women, the presence
of families did not always achieve this goal. While stationed in Japan in
the late 1940s, Army officer John Paul Vann engaged in sexual relations
with his familys maids. Mary Jane Vann tried to prevent her husbands infidelities by replacing the maids, but to no avail. During his assignment in
Heidelberg in the mid-1950s, John Paul Vann used the time before his
family arrived for liaisons with German girlfriends. His extramarital activities with local women did not stop when his family joined him. In
other ways, Vann still behaved as an ideal husband and father. Vann, a father of five (Mary Jane Vann gave birth to the couples fifth child in Germany), took his family on bicycle trips in the countryside and car vacations to the Bavarian Alps and Holland, and furnished lavish Christmases
for the children. But one day a young German woman arrived at the Vann
household to ask Mary Jane Vann whether they were to be divorced, as
Captain Vann had told her. John Paul Vanns military colleagues, and
158 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

probably his superiors, were aware of his extramarital relationships. Still,

Vann behaved more discreetly than did some of his married peers who,
unlike Vann, brought their German girlfriends to the officers club.81

Berlin and the Reemergence of the Debate on

Military Families Abroad
In addition to what military wives (and servicemen-husbands) writings
reveal about actual German-American relations, they are valuable as
records of Americans assumptions about Germans, and their sense of
personal participation in international affairs. While it is difficult to know
from Americans accounts what their interlocutors truly thought about
the foreign military presence in Germany, their stories illuminate how
American families abroad internalized, and shaped, the idea of families as
unofficial ambassadors who aided Cold War objectives. During the
1950s and 1960s, military wives in West Berlin perpetuated the idea,
which had become prominent during the Berlin blockade, of American
families as representatives of their nations commitment to defend Western Europe against Soviet aggression. A decade after the Berlin Airlift,
Frances Hamlett, the wife of Berlins commanding general, rhapsodized
about the courageous people of West Berlin who had stood on the line between communism and the free world, shoulder to shoulder with their
American allies:
Berlinwhere a modern skyscraper stands next to the rubble of a Hohenzollern palace . . . where an old man approaches you on the street,
puts his hand on your shoulder and says he hopes youll never go away
Berlin with its flame for a heart, standing within the borders of a communist-controlled land into which one may only peer. . . . The Berliner is
happy to have us here and we, in turn, are happy to be here.82

American military wives helped to generate a picture of West Berlin as

free, prosperous, and family-oriented, in contrast to dreary, subdued East
Berlin. Ethel Keener, an Air Force wife whose family was stationed in
West Germany, described a 1956 meeting in East Berlin with a distant
cousin whose family lived there. Keener claimed a deep connection with
the German people through her fathers family, who were Berliners. In an
article for U.S. Lady, she portrayed East Berliners as a fearful, shabby
people who lived in a city inscribed with ominous Soviet propaganda,
such as a poster that asked, How Does One Live in Siberia? which
Keener interpreted as a threat to East Germans who did not accept Soviet
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 159

domination. In contrast, modern department stores, bustle, and an air

of energetic prosperity in the Kurfrstendamstrasse commercial district
marked Keeners portrait of West Berlin. Her description of East Berlin
supported the argument that Western Europe, and especially West Berliners, needed the U.S. military presence to secure the freedom and prosperity proclaimed by Americans to be the defining aspects of their way of life.
Military families in West Germany expressed their defiance of communism and the Soviets by supporting Operation Kinderlift, a project intended to represent the Western allies protection of European children in
the hot zone of Berlin. This enterprise involved airlifting poor children out
of Berlin and bringing them to West Germany to enjoy summer vacations.
In 1957, approximately 125 youngsters spent five weeks in American
homes on the free side of the Iron Curtain where they enjoy[ed] good
food and ma[de] new friends.83 In attempting to demonstrate the American commitment to safeguard vulnerable young Berliners from communism, the hosts also hoped that their guests would associate Americans
with generosity, abundance, friendship, and freedom.
Military wives also appealed to the American belief in the sanctity of
the family to drive home their condemnations of life in East Berlin and
justify the U.S. military stance in Western Europe. Ethel Keener told how
her cousin, referred to only as Herr B. (because, according to Keener,
giving his full name might lead to communist retaliation against his family), lived and worked in West Berlin while his wife and children lived in
the eastern sector of the city to maintain ownership of their property.
Keener reported that were the family to leave East Berlin they would be
forced to abandon all their possessions, and their property would be confiscated by the government. This story tapped into the standard Western
concept of the cruel communist world whose citizens, unlike Americans
and their free allies, did not enjoy the rights to private property and intact
families.84 Anne Lachaussee, whose family lived in Berlin shortly after the
construction of the wall that divided west from east, said that When I
write to friends in the States I try to describe all that I see in the city. The
most emotional thing is to go to any portion of the border on Sunday and
see relatives crying and waving to people on the other side of the wall.
You come away counting your blessings.85
The rise of the Berlin Wall in the summer of 1961, and the U.S. defense
establishments response to the heightened Cold War tensions, temporarily affected military policy on sending families to Europe and provoked
criticism as well as arguments in favor of maintaining service families in
Western Europe. Since 1958, the Soviets had demanded a suspension of
the Western powers occupation of West Berlin and the transformation of
Berlin into a demilitarized free city independent of West Germany and
160 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

East Germany. The leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany, and their
allies, did not wish to relinquish West Berlin, which they considered a bastion of economic and political freedom deep in communist East Germany.
Over the next three years, approximately three and a half million people
fled East Germany via West Berlin. On August 13, 1961, German Democratic Republic leader Walter Ulbricht ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall to stanch the flow of refugees.86
Anne Lachaussee claimed that after the construction of the wall her
Berliner friends took their courage to remain in the city from the presence
of American families. The Germans are glad were here, Lachaussee declared. Many of them tell you so. Just the other night we had [a German
friend] and her husband over for dinner. She told me When you people
leave the city, well pack up too, because when you go itll be the end. She
was referring to the children and me.87 Placing those considered most
vulnerablewomen and childrenon the front lines of the war against
the spread of Soviet influence was intended not only to represent the U.S.
militarys confidence that it could defend Western Europe from the Soviets
and communism, but also the righteousness of Americans ideological
cause to uphold the democracy and freedom presumed embodied in their
With the rise in tensions between the United States and the Soviet
Union in the summer of 1961, arguments reemerged that allowing families to join military personnel at hot spots abroad placed women and children in danger, detracted from the U.S. militarys Cold War mission, and
hurt the U.S. economy besides. In July, Representative Bob Sikes of
Florida wrote to President Kennedy that American dependents in Western
Europe during this tense time would, in the event of a Soviet attack, pose
a distraction to American servicemen, who would expend resources rescuing American women and children instead of confronting the Soviets.
Sikes recommended the evacuation of dependents to signal to the Soviet
leadership the United States willingness to fight to save Berlin: No doubt
Mr. Khrushchev is watching for administration rulings affecting dependents. He knows that Americans place great stock in security of their
women and children. This could be the weathervane which will tell him
we are in dead earnest about Berlin.88 In response, Lawrence OBrien,
Special Assistant to Kennedy, informed Sikes that Decisions with respect
to dependents in Europe are of diplomatic significance, to our allies as
well as to other powers, and any action taken by the Defense Department
will be coordinated with the State Department. I should like to emphasize,
however, that dependents overseas will not be used for any purposes of
diplomatic effect.89 OBriens message suggests that while the JFK administration recognized that American military families were implicitly of
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 161

diplomatic significance, they were reluctant to wield them as explicit diplomatic signals in potentially dangerous situations (or to acknowledge
that they would do so).
Two weeks after the Berlin Wall went up, Senator A. Willis Robertson
of Virginia sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara about
his fears of the endangerment of military families in Western Europe. In
Senator Robertsons view, military wives and children living in and near
the contested territory risked annihilation should tensions between the
Western powers and the Soviet bloc erupt in war. Unwilling to wait for relations between the superpowers to deteriorate, Robertson protested the
continued shipment of military families to Western Europe. He also urged
the Department of Defense to inform American military dependents already in or en route to Western Europe that certainly we hope there will
not be [a war] but if such an eventuality should be forced upon us by a
ruthless dictator military dependents in Western Europe when the shooting starts will have to take their chances for survival along with other
civilians of that area of the world.90
In September, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced the
suspension of military families travel to Western Europe, except West
Berlin, beginning in October. According to McNamara, the augmentation
of U.S. forces in Europe due to the international discord necessitated making available all means of transportation for the shipment of troops.91
Other reasons given were that the armed forces in Europe simply could no
longer supply sufficient housing, schooling, and medical care to families;
the Defense Department did not indicate that the safety of American military families was a reason for the policy change. Although this policy temporarily halted the travel of an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 dependents
monthly to Europe, it did not call for the evacuation of spouses and children from Europe. McNamaras announcement did not explain why families traveling to West Berlin were exempt from the order. Presumably diplomatic and military officials intended the continued entry of families into
this city to represent their nations defense commitment to their allies.
That the shipment of families to Berlin received the same priority as the
transportation of soldiers suggests the extent to which the U.S. defense establishment regarded military families as troops themselves, to be deployed at the focal point of Cold War conflict.92
Although U.S. Ladys editors argued stoutly for lifting the ban on dependents travel to Europe, columnist Fred Lardner expressed more ambivalence. His vivid picture of the perils posed to American families in
Western Europe disclosed sexualized and racialized fears about the alleged
problems created by the feminized U.S. military presence. Claiming that
Europes NATO forces were weaker than Soviet forces, and suggesting
162 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

that the Soviets viewed the presence of tens of thousands of American

women and children in Europe as a weakness that would undermine the
Wests military effectiveness, Lardner raised the question of whether the
presence of American women and children might actually tempt the Soviets to provoke a war. American wives could be a much bigger prize to
the Russians than European wives, he speculated, harking back to the vicious conflict between the Soviets and Germans in World War II. European women were assaulted, raped, and degraded by Russian soldiers,
many of them Orientals. Even Tito complained to Stalin against [sic] the
venereal diseases spread by the Russians. Perhaps American wives, earmarked for ransom, would fare better. Presumably, what Lardner was
getting at was that the Soviets would trade the lives of American women
and children for territory in Western Europe. An alternative doomsday
scenario posited by Lardner was that all Americans, military or civilian,
male or female, would simply be written off if caught in the hug of the
Russian bear, just as authorities would shrug off the millions of civilians
killed when atomic bombs or missiles hit New York, or Washington, or
other cities.93
While animosity between the Soviet bloc and the West may have contributed to the decision to suspend American military families travel to
Europe to join service personnel between the latter part of 1961 and
early 1962, President Kennedy in February 1962 pointed to the balanceof-payments problem as the only reason for it. . . . we are losing dollars
and gold, and we have to attempt to bring it into balance, and this has
been one of the ways which weve considered. Kennedy stated that reducing military families travel to Europe served as one means to slash
the $3 billion annual expenditure for the global maintenance of the U.S.
armed forces by at least one third.94 The Eisenhower administration had
determined that it cost the U.S. government $600 million a year to station forces in West Germany. In 1960, Treasury officials visited West Germany to ask for a $650 million annual payment to sustain U.S. forces.
Although the Adenauer government refused this arrangement, Treasury
Secretary Robert Anderson initiated consideration of what would become
an offset payments arrangement, whereby West Germany would agree
to purchase for its Bundeswehr military supplies and equipment from the
United States, and take on other costs for the development of its own
armed forces that would offset American expenditures. The Kennedy administration finalized the agreement in late 1961. The solution, renewed
in 1963 and 1965, alleviated the United States gold outflow problem and
satisfied both countries for the next few years, until the costs of the Vietnam War and the downturn in West Germanys economy strained the arrangement.95
Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 163

In the meantime, U.S. military advocates of sending families to Europe

worried that the effects of the travel ban ultimately would prove more
costly in terms of military effectiveness than to the U.S. economy. In December 1961, Lieutenant General R. L. Vittrup, the Armys Deputy Chief
of Staff for Personnel, sent a memorandum to the Under Secretary of the
Army that cited the adverse impact on the Army caused by the suspension of family travel to Western Europe. Vittrups fears that not allowing
families to join personnel would adversely affect the attractiveness of
the Army as a career and harm personnel retention and recruitment resembled military planners original justifications, articulated in 1945, for
sending families overseas after World War II. The suspension of family
travel to Western Europe lasted for only six months. In April 1962, in a
decision that attested to the significance of families in maintaining foreign
bases, Secretary of Defense McNamara announced that military families
could resume travel to bases throughout Western Europe.96
In the aftermath of the travel ban, Josephine Galbraith Stacker, the wife
of a major in the 36th Tactical Air Command Fighter Wing, wrote to
President Kennedy to thank him for lifting the travel ban on dependents
to Europe (so that wives could join the fathers of our children) and to
reiterate the argument that military families abroad served their nation by
strengthening relations with host nationals. Stackers inspiration for writing to the president stemmed from a speech by ambassador to Luxembourg James Wine to her officers wives club. Ambassador Wein [sic]
gave us a needed shot to our morale, wrote Stacker. It is not ALL easy
to live overseas and he placed us who are in contact with German
housewives and their families in a most responsible position. She chided
those Americans who complained of the expense to taxpayers for maintaining military families abroad and of families spending their money in
host nation economies: Civilians at home have sometimes made us feel
too humble and that we are definitely unnecessary burdens to them.
Stackers response to such criticisms was that flashy American tourists
not only contributed to the international trade imbalance but also, in their
selfish activities abroad that presumably did not put them in constructive
contact with local peoples, did more harm to United States interests than
did military families. There are some [military] wives, of course, who are
not a credit to their country, admitted Stacker, and she faulted those
Americans who isolated themselves in military communities for not further[ing] our nations cause. Because of living in off-base housing in England for three years, she wrote, We . . . have many, many friends there
now we would not have otherwise made. She put forth the idea that military families spending in host economies was perhaps better than no
contact at all between Americans and local peoples. In closing, Stacker
164 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

assured the president that the group of wives sitting at my table resolved
to do all they can to make the next two and a half years here as beneficial
as possible and to be good ambassadors for their country.97

In 1967, Army wife Cabrini Lepis, a teacher and writer stationed with her
officer husband at Downs Barracks in Fulda, Germany, recounted German and American reactions to the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963. Like other military wives before her, Lepis illustrated events
of international import in terms of personal encounters between Germans
and Americans. Her account captured the American interpersonal-international ideal of German-American relations, promulgated since the Berlin Airlift, and well ensconced by the mid-1960s.
Lepis heard the news of President Kennedys assassination while at
home celebrating her daughters first birthday with another American
couple and two German women. According to Lepis, the German guests
were as stunned and upset as the Americans; she speculated that she and
one of the German women became close friends because they shared this
bond of receiving the news together that night. German neighbors visited
the Lepis family in the days following the assassination: I was amazed at
their devotion to the United States and to our late President. It took a
tragedy to realize what good friends and allies the present-day Germans
are. It was a German neighbor who came over to tell the Lepis family of
Lee Harvey Oswalds death. Lepis worried that the murders would lead
Europeans to think of Americans as barbarians running through the
streets of America with guns, but said that her German friends knew
otherwise. Germans and Americans attended the memorial service for
President Kennedy at the military base. Although Lepis felt lonely so far
from home during this time, she said that being among the Germans created a remarkable opportunity to experience brotherhood firsthand
that would have pleased President Kennedy.98 The Lepis family also
mourned President Kennedys death with Germans at a Catholic church
off base: The mass was crowded and we stood to listen to the most impassioned sermon we had ever heard, Lepis recalled. It was about the
life and death of John F. Kennedy. . . . We couldnt understand all the sermon, but we gathered it was a plea for an end to the anger and violence in
peoples lives so that we could all live without fear and in peace. I saw several women weeping. Undoubtedly they had lived through the Nazi era
and remembered the price of evil.99
Cabrini Lepiss idealized recollection of West German-American relaShoulder to Shoulder with West Germans 165

tions illuminates American assumptions about their nations relationship

to West Germany, and power relations between the two countries. Lepis
perpetuated the ideas of Germans as victims, not proponents, of Nazism,
and of American-German unity founded on cultural commonalities, in
this case, Christian worship. In Lepiss telling, Germans and Americans
were not just staunch allies, but one cultural and political body. President
Kennedy himself had envisioned such a union in June 1963 when he told
an audience in Berlin that All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and declared himself a Berliner.100 Likewise, Lepiss account of German reverence for Kennedy promoted the idea of Germans as
honorary American citizens. Both Kennedy and Lepis constructed an ideal
of Germans and Americans rejoicing and suffering as compatriots. Yet
Lepiss account of joint mourning for Kennedy as the former leader of
both Americans and Germans reveals the persistent inequality of GermanAmerican relations; it is not evident that Americans viewed any West German head of state as their leader.
The United States dominated in relations with West Germany, but the
intersection of West German and American interests mitigated the power
imbalance, creating an interdependent relationship. Army historian D. J.
Hickman assessed the U.S. military presence in Western Europe as an
irksome but essential arrangement that [Europeans believed] guaranteed
their freedom and prosperity. A historian of West GermanU.S. relations, Manfred Jonas, observed that because leaders of the two nations
shared fervent anti-communism, commitment to European integration,
and devotion to the principles of the free market economy . . . the larger
aims expressed by the two nations were not in serious conflict, and the relations between them showed a remarkable degree of cooperation and
agreement.101 Each nation wanted something from the other. Americans
wanted to maintain military bases and a substantial number of armed
forces personnel in West Germany, and to project an alliance with West
Germans against perceived Soviet intent to dominate Europe and spread
communism. West Germans wanted military assistance from the United
States and the economic opportunities that came with U.S. military bases,
and ultimately greater autonomy and reunification with East Germany.
Although the U.S.West German partnership was not free of conflict, it
was by far more positive than relations between the U.S. military and

166 Shoulder to Shoulder with West Germans

Dear Little Okinawa

While dining at the home of an Okinawan minister and his

wife in the early 1950s, Air Force wife Marian Merritt asked her hosts
about their experiences during World War II. Can you imagine how I
felt, Merritt later wrote, as they told of American planes wrecking
their homes and American troops causing them to flee to the northern
part of the Island, walking day and night, one woman, who was eight
months pregnant, finally, having her baby by the side of the road?1 The
Battle of Okinawa during the spring and early summer of 1945 resulted
in the deaths of 75,000 Japanese military personnel (including Okinawan draftees), along with tens of thousands of civilian Okinawans and
12,520 Americans, during the eighty-one days of combat.2 Altogether,
over 148,000 Okinawansbetween one-fourth and one-third of the prefectures populationlost their lives in the war.3
Though saddened by the terrible losses suffered by Okinawans, Marian
Merritt firmly believed that ultimately the war had enabled Americans to
bring material and social progress to the Okinawan people. In her memoir, Is Like Typhoon: Okinawa and the Far East (derived from letters to
her mother in Wisconsin), she wrote: War is bad and we see and think so
much of it here, but it has brought some good things to Okinawatremendously increased spread of Christianity, American help, better living
conditions and an increased desire for improvement.4 Convinced that
Okinawans desperately needed American assistance and deeply concerned
about their welfare, Merritt wanted to use her position as a military wife
to help Okinawans recover from the war. Her personal concerns and efforts coincided with U.S. military policies and goals. After World War II
the military mission in Japan included demilitarizing and democratizing
the former enemy, rebuilding the devastated society and economy, and
guarding against the spread of communism in Asia.
Marian Merritt and other military wives in Okinawa considered themselves part of the American international Cold War mission in the 1950s.
In their charitable activities, church groups, and relations with maids,
children, and other ordinary Okinawans, American women established

contacts between the military community and the local community. In

these informal relations, military wives encountered a population often
wary of Americans as a result of the heavy-handed and sometimes violent
nature of the occupation. The American convictionperpetuated by the
popular media, the military, and service wives like Merrittthat primitive, victimized, dependent Okinawan children needed the guidance
and protection of the American armed forces served as justification for
maintaining military bases in the Ryukyu Islands throughout the 1950s
and 1960s.
Despite tensions between the U.S. military presence and Germans, the
shared racial identity of most Germans and Americans, as well as a common Cold War orientation, tended to encourage a positive, if sometimes
ambivalent, view of Americans in West Germany. In Okinawa, by contrast, race relations, relations with mainland Japan, and international politics complicated Okinawans views of the U.S. military presence. Unlike
West Germans in the 1950s and 1960s, most Okinawans believed that
the U.S. military brought more disadvantages than advantages. In the absence of strong mutual interests and a sense of cultural intersections, the
American Cold War rhetoric of international partnership failed to overcome deep-seated Okinawan animosity toward the U.S. military presence.
Long-standing beliefs about the otherness and inferiority of Asians also
gave a strikingly different cast to the American interpretation of intercultural relations.5 Whereas American service family members in West Germany attempted to generate a semblance of equality, reciprocity, and commonality that served U.S. Cold War aims in Europe, military wives in Okinawa tended to perpetuate ideas of Okinawans as a childlike people who
showed promise of one day reaching maturity but in the meantime required American guidance. Even those Americans who intended to project
humanitarianism and good will reinforced hierarchical relationships between Americans and Okinawans that characterized U.S. military control
of the Ryukyu Islands.
For Americans, casting Okinawans as children and Americans as their
guardians naturalized control of the island by the United States and the
maintenance of military bases there. But American military fathers did
not always perform their paternal role convincingly. Okinawans deeply
resented the militarys seizure of farmland and servicemens offensive and
often criminal behavior, including sexual violence and murder, that disrupted their communities. American women who positioned themselves
as maternal protectors attempted to ameliorate the militarys impact on
the lives of Okinawans, yet simultaneously furthered perceptions of Okinawans as a childlike people in need of American guardianship. This maternalism tried to ease the negative effects of paternalistic military control
168 Dear Little Okinawa

while reinforcing justifications for the Cold War domination of Okinawa

by the United States.

Cold War Island

U.S. military control of the Ryukyu Islands began in June 1945 with the
Americans victory in the Battle of Okinawa. In 1949, as tensions increased between the United States and the Soviet Union and communists
prevailed in China, the Secretary of State declared that the United States
would establish funding for permanent bases in Okinawa. The North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950 reinforced the commitment to
U.S. bases in the Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa became a staging area for
American forces in South Korea. In 1951, the United States and Japan
signed a peace treaty which gave the United States continued control of
the Ryukyu Islands, though Japan gained residual sovereignty.6 The
Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives stated in its
1954 report on overseas bases that
Okinawa truly has become the Keystone of the Pacific and a vital link
in our defensive strategy. . . . [A]fter inspecting the huge defensive plant
already constructed on Okinawa, the subcommittee believes that Okinawa and all militarily important adjacent islands should be retained
under the control of the United States for the foreseeable future.

The committee pointed out that the proximity of Okinawa to Japan,

Korea, and China meant that This bastion in the Pacific is too vital to
the continued peace of the world to be given away.7 In the 1950s, the
United States spent over two billion dollars strengthening and supplying
military bases in Okinawa, installing radar domes and surface-to-air missiles and rockets.8 The Congressional committees justification of continued control of Okinawa as a defensive strategy indicated the view that
protective rather than aggressive intent characterized the U.S. military
presence, and that the American armed forces in the Ryukyu Islands
shielded the Okinawans as well as the United States and its other allies
from hostile communism.
Maintaining this huge defensive plant in Okinawa meant sending
thousands of American service personnel to serve tours of duty there,
sometimes for several years at a time. Military authorities recognized that
families would make life more tolerable for servicemen stationed on the
Rock. According to an Army officers account of the occupation, the influx of families transformed the American Ryukyuan atmosphere . . .
Dear Little Okinawa 169

from a conquered battle zone to a twentieth-century version of an Oklahoma frontier community.9 The military constructed housing, schools,
commissaries, post exchanges, medical buildings, and recreational facilities for the growing American population. The House of Representatives
Armed Services Committee, which toured U.S. overseas bases in 1953, reported that 25,000 Air Force and Army personnel, and another 13,000
Americansincluding military families, civilian employees, and businessmenresided in Okinawa.10
By seizing farmland to build bases for military operations and facilities
for personnel and their families, the military did further damage to U.S.Okinawan relations. For many decades before World War II, the high
population of the islands and the scarcity of farmland had pushed Okinawans to emigrate. In 1940, the population density of Okinawa Prefecture
was 588 people per square mile in an area of 866 square miles (by contrast, the U.S. population density in 1940 was forty-four people per
square mile). By January 1953, the postwar repatriation of approximately
150,000 to 200,000 people who had left the island in previous decades
due to high population and insufficient land helped push the population density up to roughly 730 people per square mile. Between 1950
and 1955, Okinawas population grew from 700,000 to 800,000. By
1970, the islands inhabitants numbered about one million, approximately 60,000 of whom were U.S. military personnel and their families.11
Okinawans had lived in an agrarian society before the war, and many
wished to do so after 1945. But the establishment of bases during and
after the war exacerbated the land shortage. By 1955, the United States
had claimed almost one-quarter of the islands farmable land for military
use, displacing approximately 175,000 Okinawans. According to a Life
magazine article, in one particularly dramatic instance of displacement,
fifty families gave up the farmland on which they subsisted so that the military could build a golf course.12
The seizure of farmland and the criminal behavior of servicemen, as
well as other aspects of the military presence such as vehicular and military training accidents and the harsh noise of aircraft, fueled the Okinawan movement for the return of the Ryukyu Islands to Japanese governance. The Okinawan Youth Associations 1951 poll of 12,000 people
found that eighty-five percent wanted their island returned to Japanese
control. Later that same year, seventy-two percent of Okinawan voters
signed petitions for reversion to Japan.13 An estimated 50,000 Okinawan
families became landless between 1945 and the 1950s.14 By the early
1950s, Okinawan opposition to the U.S. military erupted in spontaneous
protests against the seizure of farmland for American use.15 In 1955,
when construction crews prepared to dismantle the village of Isahama to
170 Dear Little Okinawa

build military housing, 150 village residents blocked them. According to

Time, the military eventually staged a pre-dawn assault with bulldozers
and trucks. Paddy dikes that took years to build were churned flat under
the bulldozers blade. One group of farmers made a feeble stand before
the bulldozer. A pistol-carrying US officer shouted them off. Shrugging at
the inevitable, they shuffled away.16 Though these residents failed to save
their village, similar protests occurred throughout the decade in what became known to Okinawans as island-wide struggles for [the defense of]
land (shima gurumi no tochi toso).17 By the 1960s, Okinawan unrest
swelled into mass rallies against the U.S. military presence and control of
the islands.
Although the Time article reported with some sympathy that 50,000
Okinawan farmers lost the use of their land, it also covered the arguments
for U.S. control of Okinawa: that Americans promoted material progress
and greater participation of Okinawans in government (more than under
the Japanese), that the military provided better economic opportunities
than farming for Okinawans, and that the United States needed the island
as a strategic defense base in the war against the spread of communism in
Asia. But in a letter printed in a subsequent issue of the magazine, a reader
scoffed at the notion that U.S. bases improved Okinawa:
For two disgusting years (195254) I was . . . on Okinawa. . . . Gentlemen, I assure you, I would suffer the loss of my right arm to keep from
returning there. . . . If the Okinawa economy has boomed, chances are
that this has more to do with more troops, more prostitutes, more saki
and beer than it has military bustle. This was the basis of the Okinawa
economy during my tour there, and nothing short of a miracle could
change it.18

The short story Dark Flowers (1955) by Kishaba Jun, set during the
Korean War and published the same year as the Time article describing
the land seizures and military construction, depicted the U.S. military
presence as for the most part sordid and depressing. The story, told from
the perspective of a young Okinawan woman, refers to numerous aspects
of life under the occupation, including prostitution, the proliferation of
bars and clubs catering to American servicemen, venereal disease, the rape
and impregnation of an Okinawan maid who worked for an American
man, land seizures and the forced migration of farmers, the harsh noise
of military aircraft, and the lesser status of African-American soldiers in
relation to white Americans. The storys protagonist, Nobuko, is in a sexual relationship with an African-American serviceman named Joe. Joe
gives her money, but it is much less than what Nobukos friend Michiko
Dear Little Okinawa 171

receives as the mistress of a white man, presumably because Joe earns

less than white military personnel. The money from Joe is not enough for
Nobuko to live on and support her impoverished mother and younger siblings who try to make a living on a tiny farm, so she must borrow money
from Michiko. Although Nobukos widowed mother depends on her
daughters earnings to support the family, when Nobuko comes to visit
them she realizes that her mother does not want her to stay long because
of the villagers contempt for the young woman, which they also direct at
her siblings. Nobuko feels not only alienated and dejected living in a city
near a military base, but she also is an outcast in her familys village. In
this story, the U.S. military does not bring salvation to Okinawans, especially women, but rather destitution and degeneracy. The story does
offer glimpses of hope, however, in Nobukos brothers fledgling political activism and his determination to revitalize the farm village, and in
Nobukos own determination to resist her oppressive circumstances and
find joy.19

Americans Depictions of Okinawans

The American popular media abounded with images of Okinawans as
children. A 1947 Colliers article described Okinawa as a queer placea
never-never land, alluding to the Peter Pan fantasy world where children
never grow up.20 Americans often noted the small stature of Okinawans,
thus reinforcing the idea of the Okinawan-American child-parent hierarchy. Vern Sneiders popular novel The Teahouse of the August Moon
(1951), a critique of the U.S. occupation of Okinawa, frequently mentioned the small size of Okinawans, referring to an elderly man as this
little Okinawan, and the geisha First Flower as a tiny doll come to life.
The broken English of Okinawans and the depiction of a male character,
Hokkaido (also the name of Japans second-largest island), as a crybaby
with a cherubic face further promulgated the childlike image of Okinawans.21
An account from former Army officer Morton Morris illustrates the
American perception of Okinawans as a childlike, dependent people incapable of making decisions in their own best interests. Morris opposed the
reversion of the Ryukyu Islands to Japan. He claimed that a prominent
and knowledgeable Japanese had informed him that [the Okinawans]
really dont want us [the Japanese], we cant ever hope to buy them what
you people [the Americans] do. Its just that under it all they feel left out.
You Americans have a cartoon of an infant [Linus from Charles Schultzs
Peanuts] hugging a little warm blanket. The Japanese flag has become the
172 Dear Little Okinawa

security blanket for the Ryukyuan people. To support his argument for
continued U.S. control of the islands, Morris pointed to increases in the
height and weight of the generation of Okinawan children born after
World War II as evidence of the beneficial effects of the occupation.22 The
physical growth of the people served for Morris as a metaphor for the
maturation of the Okinawan children under American care.
The language and imagery that cast Okinawans as children harked
back to nineteenth-century metaphors used to articulate the paternal role
of American leaders and the childlike status of nonwhite groups whose
lands they sought, such as the father-children discourse frequently applied to Andrew Jacksons relationship with American Indians, and the
depiction of turn-of-the-century Americans as the caretakers of their
dark little brothers in the Caribbean and Pacific. Historian Emily
Rosenbergs description of turn-of-the-century ideas about natural hierarchies and dependence also informs an analysis of American-Okinawan relations after World War II: Women, nonwhite races, and tropical countries often received the same kinds of symbolic characterizations from
white male policy makers: emotional, irrational, irresponsible, unbusinesslike, unstable, and childlike.23 Like Puerto Ricans, Cubans, or Filipinos, Okinawans could, in American eyes, be good children or bad
children.24 A 1962 military report that praised Okinawans as quick-tolearn, friendly and cooperative painted an image of them as well-behaved, delightful children.25 But to the chagrin of military officials such as
Morton Morris, some bad children did not gratefully accept U.S. government of their islands. These included all who protested U.S. civil administration of the islands and inadequate reimbursement for the use of
privately owned land, as well as other fringe elements (as termed by
Morris) such as the Okinawa Womens Federation, which American military leaders accused of socialist and communist leanings.26 Although communist and socialist organizations did protest U.S. control of Okinawa,
Americans freely labeled as communist anyone who opposed the U.S.
military occupation and presence, or who advocated reversion of Okinawa to Japanese governance. Scholars who closely studied the islands
history and culture cautioned against attributing all criticisms of the military presence to the influence of these groups.27
The 1953 and 1954 editions of The Ryukyu Islands at a Glance, produced by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands,
visually reinforced stereotypes of Okinawans as children. One illustration portrayed an American serviceman nearly twice the height of the
two Okinawans standing near him. The serviceman looks foolish, standing in the rain without an umbrella, compared with the more provident
Okinawans who have prepared for bad weather. By depicting the serviceDear Little Okinawa 173

man as sheepish and ill-prepared for the weather, the military attempted
to convey the impression of itself as an innocent and benign rather than a
harsh, intimidating presence. The 1954 edition of the pamphlet offered
an illustration of a tall Uncle Sam bending low to hand over a bag of
money to a small, tattered Okinawan child. The caption reads, Almost
$177,000,000 has been appropriated for Ryukyuan economics [sic] assistance. Behind Uncle Sam stand tall office buildings, while behind the
Okinawan are a Shinto shrine and what appears to be a thatched hut. The
contrast in the American and Okinawan structures stresses an extreme
disparity between the economic and urban developments of modern
America and rural, primitive Okinawa.28
Military officials defended the U.S. presence by arguing that the Okinawans depended on the base economy for their livelihood. In this view, the
military acted as a provider for a financially dependent people who would
sink further into poverty without aid from their benefactor. In the early
1950s, U.S. agencies employed over 50,000 Okinawan construction,
maintenance, and service workers.29 In addition, Okinawan businesses
bars, clubs, brothels, restaurants, tourist shops, and taxisprofited from
the leisure spending of American service personnel and their families.
General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers
in Japan between 1945 and 1950, predicted that Okinawans would pick
up a good deal of money and have a reasonably happy existence from an
American base development.30 Major General James E. Moore, the deputy governor of the Ryukyu Islands, suggested that Okinawans should relinquish farming and earn a living by servicing the military, as Hawaiians
did. American military personnel and families were told that they aided
Okinawans by employing them as domestic workers. Even GIs provided
jobs for Okinawans by pooling their money to hire cheap Okinawan laborers to relieve servicemen from mess hall work. In response to Okinawans complaints that the military took away land that farmers would use
to support their families, Time asserted that land is lying fallow all over
Okinawa because the owner makes better money working for the U.S.
Armyrunning laundry machines, driving trucks, working in construction gangs.31
During World War II and into the Cold War, the American mainstream
and military media often portrayed Okinawans as victims of Japan, and
the United States as their savior, thereby reinforcing the child-parent metaphor. The May 1945 issue of Life, published during the bloody Battle of
Okinawa, ran a story titled Okinawa: Except for Japs, It Is a Very Pleasant Place. The article described Okinawans as rural folk, friendly to
Americans, who as a race are only distantly related to the Japanese, and

174 Dear Little Okinawa

Illustration from the 1954 edition of The Ryukyu Islands at

a Glance, produced by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands.

who had been duped by the Japanese into believing that Japan would
win the war and Americans would grind them up for dog food.32 A 1947
Newsweek article referred to U.S. occupation personnel as the liberators of the Okinawan people.33 A military pamphlet explained that although Okinawans had enjoyed political and cultural benefits from Japanese annexation in the nineteenth century, their remoteness from Japan
and their status as the poorest prefecture had resulted in discrimination
by the Japanese and difficulty in attaining positions of authority.34 Time
claimed that under American governance, Okinawans have more selfgovernment than they ever did under the Japanese.35 All these documents
criticize the Japanese as unfit parents and champion Americans as more
suitable guardians for Okinawans. Miyazato Siegen, who denounced U.S.
rule of Okinawa, viewed American claims that Okinawans were a minority group languishing under maltreatment by Japan and were better served
by paternalistic U.S. governance as a justification for ignoring Okinawans
demands. The idea of the minority group and paternalism are still the
particular characteristics of the US administration, wrote Siegen in 1965,

Dear Little Okinawa 175

and they stand in the way of understanding by the American people of

the Okinawan peoples wish to revert to Japanese administration.36
American assertions that Okinawan culture significantly differed from
mainland Japanese culture, even when Okinawans preferred to emphasize
the similarities between the two, served American attempts to displace the
Japanese as the guardians of Okinawans.37 An American book of photographs of Okinawa portrayed Okinawans as a smiling, docile, childlike
people, informing readers that
your identification of these people as Japanese was a mistake. Okinawans
are quick to remind you that they have an identity of their own! Its true
that their written language came from Japan, and recent generations were
schooled under Nipponese guidance, but they have a heritage that is
strictly separated from the culture of that nation. Just as there is a difference in facial features, there are certain customs and mannerisms that belong to them alone. . . . The subject of ancestry becomes quite involved,
so lets just recognize them as Okinawans, an identification that fills them
with pride.38

Military programs encouraged traditional Okinawan arts and took

credit for helping the people to sustain them. These efforts were part of
what Asian studies scholar Steve Rabson terms a campaign for disassimilation of Okinawans from mainland Japanese culture. Stressing the
uniqueness of Ryukyuan culture enabled Americans to discount claims
to intrinsic ties between Japan and Okinawa. U.S. military officials took
every opportunity to refer to Okinawans as Ryukyuans, hoping to persuade them to identify with the history and culture of the former Ryukyu
Kingdom that existed in the islands for centuries before the Japanese
abolished it and claimed the archipelago as a prefecture in the 1870s.
Many Okinawans, however, resisted the Ryukyuization campaign.39
According to scholar Koji Taira, Okinawans insistence on being identified with the Japanese does not mean that Okinawans were uncritical of
Japan, or that they did not consider Okinawans historically exploited
and subjugated by the Japanese government. Taira writes that From a
historical perspective, it is curious that Okinawans should have claimed
that they were Japanese or that Japan was their fatherland. It was a
stance which implied a rejection of their own ethnic and cultural identity
as Ryukyuans. Okinawans perceived the American distinction between
Okinawans and Japanese, explains Taira, as indicative of Americans
sense of Okinawans as an inferior people: [Okinawans] inferred that
any distinction made by the United States implied a denial of equal respect to Okinawans. Therefore,
176 Dear Little Okinawa

vis--vis the Japanese, Okinawans would claim distinctiveness for themselves, but vis--vis Americans they would claim that whatever they felt
toward the Japanese was none of the business of the United States: i.e., it
was wrong for Americans to manipulate Japanese-Okinawan differences
in ways prejudicial to Okinawans. From this, then, the most convenient
weapon against American racism was to insist that Okinawans were Japanese.40

The American idea of Okinawans as children also encompassed the

notion of Okinawans as primitive islanders who had not yet attained a
civilized status. Newsweek reported that since the Americans arrival in
Okinawa during World War II, Christianity had gained a foothold among
the natives of the island.41 The Teahouse of the August Moon frequently termed Okinawans natives, a word that conjured for Americans images of people who were preindustrial, simple, childlike, and potentially savage. American popular literature applied the adjective primitive to Okinawans, as in a Better Homes and Gardens article on
primitive mothering, which touted the alleged benefits of raising children in the manner of Okinawan mothers.42 The authors of a guidebook
for servicemen preparing to take their families abroad described Okinawans as a rugged people who live close to the land and the sea.43 A
1954 illustration for a pamphlet by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands presented an Okinawan man wielding a farm
implement, standing knee-deep in the water of a rice paddy, with the caption Farming is somewhat primitive.44 A 1962 report on the government of Okinawa described the supposed progress of Okinawa from a
stagnant backward society to a preindustrial one, crediting American
aid and guidance for the transformation toward a more mature society,
though one not yet full-grown.45

Military Wives Maternalism

In interacting with Okinawans in numerous unofficial settings, military
wives tried to present a less overtly militarized, more humane side of U.S.
occupation and control. As many Americans recognized, military fathers inadequately protected Okinawans: they seized land, sexually assaulted girls and women, and even committed murder.46 The September
1955 Yumiko-chan Incidentthe kidnapping, rape, and murder of a
six-year-old girlbecame the most infamous of all the base crimes
(kichi hanzai) committed by an American serviceman. A court-martial
convicted a noncommissioned officer for the crime; he received the death
Dear Little Okinawa 177

penalty but was sent back to the United States for imprisonment. If American military men sometimes failed as fathers, American women believed
that they could be good mothers to Okinawans. Military wives supported U.S. goals while trying to protect and aid Okinawan children.
They sought to counteract the negative effects of the military through
nurturing, intimate interactions with Okinawans while maintaining the
power differential. In charitable activities, as mistresses of maids, at
schools, and in other everyday relations with Okinawans, military wives
perpetuated assumptions about Okinawans dependency on Americans,
which for Americans legitimated the military presence and the allegedly
much-needed protection and guidance of the natives.
In 1947, American women established a thrift shop in Naha to sell second-hand goods to Americans and Okinawans and use the profits to aid
orphanages, leper colonies, and schools. A few years later, the women in
charge of the shop decided that it would be more profitable to sell gifts
such as vases, jewelry, scrolls, and woven handbags crafted by Okinawans. Vice President Richard Nixon and Secretary of Defense Charles
Wilson implicitly endorsed the enterprise by visiting the gift shop on a trip
to the island. Americans claimed that the shop aided the Okinawan people by creating business for local merchants and craftspeople and profits
for welfare projects. They also believed that personal contacts between
the gift shop committee members and Okinawan merchants, craftspeople,
and charity recipients expressed the friendliness of the U.S.A. better
than the large but impersonal sums of U.S. government aid to the Ryukyu
A group of American women and an Episcopalian priest embarked on
a similar enterprise to benefit the residents of the impoverished, tiny town
of Nago and to diminish the impression that the military presence harmed
Okinawans. The Americans, concerned that there were more young girls
than respectable places of employment, believed that profits from the
Nago Shop (which sold products made by Okinawans in a handicraft center also founded by the Americans) could help lift the townspeople out of
poverty and prevent young Okinawan women from drifting from home
and family into unsavory jobs down island. Whereas Army officer Morton Morris had advocated military-supervised prostitution of willing Okinawan women for the benefit of American men in an effort to minimize
sexual assaults and curb the spread of venereal disease, the Nago Shop
wives hoped to rescue Okinawan women from prostitution by offering
them alternative employment: the production of traditionally woven items
and crafts to be purchased by Americans in Okinawa and the United
States. The articles delicate and cursory allusion to prostitution is one of
the rare instances in which it is referred to in accounts published by and
178 Dear Little Okinawa

for military wives in the 1950s. The silence on the subject stemmed from
the taboo against publicly discussing illicit sexuality as well as from military wives reluctance to call negative attention to the armed forces or its
servicemen for fear that doing so would hurt the U.S. militarys image and
their husbands careers. The military establishments pressure on wives
not to criticize the armed forces constituted what Cynthia Enloe has
termed a maneuver that maintained American womens compliance
with military goals and encouraged them to view their interests as separate from those of local women, thus defusing the potential for womens
united protest. As for the wares sold in the Nago Shop, the selection of
handmade Okinawan items also promulgated the notion of a unique Okinawan culture, which helped to justify the military presence and to undercut Japans claim to be Okinawas rightful guardian. The women who
opened the shop decided that traditionally woven Okinawan goods would
ring the bell on the cash register. These American mothers attempted
to protect Okinawan children from the problems created by servicemens demands for sexual commerce and land. They intended that the
profits assist not only Okinawan women, but also young Okinawan men
who did not possess sufficient land to support their families. Americans
considered the Nago Shop project to be not just another American handout, but rather an endeavor that relied on the joint participation of
Americans and Okinawans (although Americans directed it), as well as
proof of American concern for the total welfare of Okinawans.48
The language used in Air Force wife Betty Holshousers article about
the Nago Shop project noted the smallness of the Okinawans and the relatively larger size of Americans and thus sustained the idea of a child-parent relationship between the two peoples. Describing the opening of the
retail outlet store, she wrote that Okinawans are little people in stature.
Most of the women are under five feet tall, but that day they were figuratively standing shoulder to shoulder with their tall American friends.49
Military wives accounts, like those by many other Americans, frequently
commented on Okinawans shortness and interpreted this metaphorically
as well as physically.
Besides offering financial assistance to Okinawans, the American
women of the Nago Shop hoped that their enterprise would counteract
negative media attention that centered on the bad behavior of servicemen.
Betty Holshousers article concluded that the Nago Shop will remain as
a powerful testimony to the kindness, understanding and helpfulness of
not-so-ugly American women, in implicit contrast to the ugly American military men whose undesirable behavior received international
news coverage and harmed U.S.-Okinawan relations.50 The phrase notso-ugly American women alludes to the 1958 best-selling novel The Ugly
Dear Little Okinawa 179

American, which portrayed American foreign service personnel posted in

Southeast Asia as ignorant of host nation languages and cultures and
oblivious to the needs of local peoples. In the view of authors William
Lederer and Eugene Burdick, Americans carelessness in their contacts
with Asians undermined U.S.-Asian relations and rendered the local people more receptive to the influence of communists. In 1960, two years
after the novels publication, Americans living in foreign countries would
have been well aware of condemnations of ugly American behavior
abroad.51 The title of the magazine article on the Nago ShopAmi,
Dont Go Homereassured readers that Okinawans appreciated and
needed the military presence and the assistance of American wives.52
Holshousers reversal of the anti-American imperative Ami, go home
and the ugly American stereotype represented an attempt to reenvision
the U.S. military presence in Okinawa as considerate, beneficial, and essential to the local people, rather than offensive, harmful, and despised.
Contacts with children offered another way for military wives to project American kindness and influence. In a 1961 account, Navy wife Francis Lee Buck described her volunteer work as a teacher at the Naha Senior
High School. She said that she took the job in part because of her discomfort with the role of occupation in a foreign country. Technically, the
occupation of Japan had ended in 1952. Bucks use of the term occupation to describe the purpose of the armed forces in the Ryukyu Islands
well after the official establishment of peace between the United States
and Japan attests to the prevailing sense of military dominance there. Presumably, Buck believed that as a teacher she could most effectively demonstrate friendly intentions toward Okinawans. She also hoped for cultural exchange: While teaching English, she wrote, I could tell them
about America, as I learned something of their culture. Buck declined to
accept a salary from the destitute school, and instead received gifts of
flowers and tea. Even though many of her students had lost relatives in
World War II, she observed that I could find no bitterness against us on
the childrens part.
Francis Buck proposed that the efforts of Americans could help mend
past harms and promote pro-American and anti-communist inclinations
among Okinawas young people. A visit to the school by a personable city
official alleged to be a communist, well-liked by the children and the other
teachers, prompted Francis Buck to take a more personal approach with
her students. All day I found myself thinking about the Communist sitting and drinking tea with them [the Okinawan teachers and students],
recalled Buck. With all the money we [Americans] poured into Okinawa,
it seemed to me we were not giving anything of ourselves to the Okinawans. She decided to try to outdo her rival by inviting her forty students
180 Dear Little Okinawa

to her home. She treated the children, none of whom had ever been inside
an American home, to popcorn, Coca-Cola, lemonade, hot dogs, chocolate chip cookies, and candy. The girls admired the kitchen, especially
the electric stove, the mixer and the toaster, Buck reported. The boys
were fascinated with the electric lights, the flush toilet and the television.
American abundance, modern appliances, and a personal touch, Buck
hoped, would guide the children to the side of the United States in the
fight against communism.53 Americans who brought Okinawans into their
homes believed that the battle against communism could not be won only
with impersonal economic aid and military power, but required intimate
settings and relations to attract Okinawans to U.S. Cold War foreign policy goals. Francis Buck and other military wives did not appear to consider that Okinawans might resent the Americans displays of relative affluence and privilege.
Marian Merritt exemplified the compassionate, public-spirited outlook
of service wives who contributed to the promotion of U.S. military and
foreign policies. Merritt, described in a U.S. Lady article as a permanently crippled victim of [childhood] polio [who] learned to walk again,
gained local fame as an activist who cultivated American-Okinawan
friendship and worked to improve the harsh conditions in which Okinawans lived. She first arrived in Okinawa in 1946 to join her husband,
Robert Merritt, an Air Force officer. When the Air Force sent Major Merritt back to Okinawa in 1952, Mrs. Merritt joined him and became a
prominent figure among Americans as well as Okinawans. In April 1956,
after the Merritts returned to the United States, U.S. Lady named Marian
Merritt U.S. Lady-of-the-Month for her work to aid the Okinawan
people and promote Okinawan-American relations.
Marian Merritt embodied the ideal officers wife stationed at an overseas base. On her first visit to Okinawa in 1946, she heeded the militarys
call for service wives to staff schools for American children. She later said
that her classroom responsibilities had allowed little time for contact with
Okinawans. But during her husbands second tour of duty on the island,
she exceeded expectations that service wives should foster positive relations between Americans and local people and make the presence of the
armed forces more tolerable. In the twenty-eight months following the
Merritts return to Okinawa in 1952, Marian Merritt served as president
of the Kadena Chapel Guild, founded and directed the Okinawan Maid
School, acted as program chair of the Kadena Officers Wives Club and the
International Club, addressed an audience of 1,000 at a presentation for
the Okinawan Womens Federation, gave a speech to the Okinawa Leper
Colony, and taught English to Okinawans. She viewed all of these activities as a bridge between Americans and Okinawans, especially women.54
Dear Little Okinawa 181

Merritts detailed account of her familys life in Okinawa between 1952

and 1954 or 1955 offers descriptions of her experiences as well as insights into her assumptions about Okinawans and American-Okinawan
relations. Certainly most service wives did not establish as many contacts with local people as did Marian Merritt, so in that regard her memoir does not reflect the experiences and attitudes of all other American
women who lived abroad in military families. Nonetheless, her book is
valuable for its insight into the mindset of a model service wife. Merritt
sympathized with Okinawans, sought to understand their beliefs and way
of life, and earnestly believed in the goodness of her intentions toward
them, yet simultaneously supported U.S. military and foreign policies that
many Okinawans perceived as in conflict with their own interests.
Marian Merritt adopted a maternal role toward Okinawans, whom she
called little girls, little people, little helpers, and dear little Okinawans.55 These terms of endearment that suggested a mother-children relationship meshed with the perception of Okinawans as immature in relation to the more advanced American people. A magazine article concerning her activities to foster Ryukyuan-American relations depicted
the differences between Okinawans and Americans in terms of obstacles
of centuries. The time metaphor suggested that Okinawans stood far
apart from Americans in the imagined spectrum of human progress, with
Americans far ahead of them on the path of cultural evolution. According
to the author of the article, Merritt concerned herself with making an inroad into racial prejudice on both sides, oriental superstition and the
equally strong, if not quite as ancient, American distaste for anything unsanitary, all complicated by an almost insurmountable language barrier.56 Although Merritt frequently expressed admiration for Okinawans
in Is Like Typhoon: Okinawa and the Far East, the very title of the book
enlists poor grammar to evoke an inarticulate and immature people, and
the image of the typhoon to suggest an exotic and untamed land. She took
the title for her book from what she said was an expressionIs like
typhoon. No can help!used by Okinawan women in difficult situations. Merritt liked this expression because it captured what she regarded
as the easy-going attitude of Okinawans. Marian Merritt and other wives
sought to bridge differences by guiding the backward Okinawan children to maturity, as established by American standards.57
Merritts maternalism sustained assumptions that Okinawans depended
on the military presence for their livelihood. Like military officials and
other Americans who argued for maintaining bases in the Ryukyu Islands,
she believed that providing work for Okinawans in American homes
helped to rebuild the islands economy. Imagine . . . how it felt to me,
she wrote, to arrive on Okinawa and find that I could not only afford [a
182 Dear Little Okinawa

maid] but was expected to have one to help the Okinawa economy and to
give these little girls something to do! Merritt proposed that providing
domestic service opportunities to Okinawan women would smooth over
sore points in local relations, which would in turn make the military presence more tolerable. She reasoned that the employment of servants helped
to compensate for the seizure of farmland: the maids appreciate what the
Americans are doing for them, and their parents and their whole villages
feel more kindly toward the country, which has taken over their land and
their rice paddies in the battle of the free world to remain free.58
In Marian Merritts perspective, the employment of maids and the
good works performed by her and other Americans on behalf of Okinawans helped make it possible for the military to maintain the anti-communist front in Asia. I understand there are some Communists hereone
Okinawan woman was arrested recently for collecting non-ferrous metal
to be sent to Russia, she reported, like many Americans in this period assuming that the Soviet Union directed allegedly pro-communist activities
everywhere in the world. Yet she reassured the recipient of her letter that,
taken as a whole, I doubt that many Okinawans would turn to Communism after the way Americans have helped.59 Even if stern American paternalism alienated some Okinawan childrendiscontented communist and socialist critics of the United Statesfrom their caretakers,
Merritt hoped that American generosity and maternalism could keep the
others within the fold.
The arena of domestic service offered an ideal environment for the
elaboration of American maternalism. Marian Merritt established the
Okinawan Maid School, where prospective domestic workers spent sixty
hours learning tasks such as making beds, defrosting refrigerators, and
cleaning bathrooms. In her view, the school would improve relations
between Okinawan maids and their American mistresses, as Merritt
termed military wives who employed Okinawan domestic workers. She
feared that dissatisfied, cross military housewives would give maids a
poor impression of Americans, and believed that proper instruction in
American household chores would prevent mishaps and bad feelings on
both sides.
In addition to trying to improve relations by teaching American housekeeping to Okinawan women, Merritt also advised employers on how to
behave toward domestic workers. She wanted Okinawan maids to see
American housewives as patient and generous. When American women
hired maids through the school, Merritt sent letters admonishing the
employers to behave in a manner that would reflect well on the United
States: All that these little girls and their families and their whole villages
know of America is what they are learning from you and your home. Are
Dear Little Okinawa 183

you making friends for our country? Like a mother concerned about the
well-being of her children, she also urged American employers to provide
their servants with plenty of Okinawan foodrice, canned fish, noodles,
soya saucewarning that they might dislike American food or be too shy
to ask for meals. Tell your maid that you want her to eat, advised Merritt. Urge her to eat. See that she does. . . . Be proud if you can add a few
pounds to your maid while she is with you.60
The employment of maids provided an economic opportunity to Okinawan women, and also served as a nonmilitaristic form of American influence. Maid school students received written instructions urging them to
Smile and be happy, Be on time for work, and [S]urprise [an ill mistress] by taking her a cup of tea.61 The maid-mistress relationship harbored an inherent social, cultural, and political hierarchy between employer and employee, benefactor and recipient, mother and child, military
victor and conquered subject.
While perhaps appreciative of the opportunity to earn money, some
Okinawan women who had worked as maids in the immediate postwar
years were less effusive than Mrs. Merritt about employment in American
homes. Junko Isa, who worked for an American family circa 1949 when
she was eighteen years old, described living with and working for the family as really hard: her day, which began at six a.m., included doing all
the housework with the American woman watching over her every move.
She did not eat with the family, and neither the Americans nor Isa spoke
the others language, so communication was extremely difficult. One enduring impression of the American home, shared by many local people in
various countries that housed U.S. bases, was that there was always
enough food . . . since the family could get American goods at the commissary on base.62 In an interview nearly five decades later, Isa confessed
to having mixed feelings about the U.S. military bases in Okinawa:
Im against the existence of the military bases here, but I have to admit
there were some advantages to having the U.S. presence on the island.
After all, we women got the right to vote under the American Occupation. That was a good thing. I think a lot of Okinawans feel the same
way I do.63

Another Okinawan woman, Mitsuko Inafuku, described a warmer relationship with the American woman for whom she worked as a maid (although she remembered the four-year-old son whom she took care of as
a terror). She took the job at the age of twenty. In an interview several
decades later, she reported being highly impressed by the familys collection of colorful bath towelsThey had it made, those Americans. She
184 Dear Little Okinawa

also appreciated that the family owned a washing machine, which she
said made me pretty happy since I was the one doing the laundry. I was
used to scrubbing clothes in the river. Inafuku seemed to simultaneously
admire and think it strange that the American woman, whom she called
a sweet person, tried to fit in with Okinawan society as much as possible, wearing shorts and geta (Japanese sandals) to shop at the market in
Naha. After a year and a half, she left the American family to look for a
more challenging job.64 At age sixty-seven, having lived through the
war, the U.S. occupation, and the continued U.S. military presence in
Okinawa, Inafuku said that she had a good impression of the Americans and enjoyed talking with them. She recognized, however, that some
Okinawans were afraid of the Americans, especially the ones who run
around in their fatigues and uniforms,65 suggesting that Okinawans
found Americans in their civilian roles (possibly including American wives
and children) less intimidating than those in military roles.

American-Okinawan Cultural Exchange

American women did not simply try to foist their demands and values on
a captive audience; they also participated in activities that encouraged cultural exchange. The International Club to which three hundred women
(American, Okinawan, and other women of all nationalities) belonged
organized monthly meetings for members to satisfy their friendly curiosity about each other. At these gatherings, the audience looked upon a
split stageone side oriental, the other occidentalwhere club members played out scenes depicting Okinawan and American customs and
culture. Marian Merritt devised the split-stage programs to aid in attaining mutual understandings between women of vastly different ideas. She
believed that If we knew each other better, we would love each other
more. On their respective sides of the stage, the American and Okinawan
women enacted numerous scenes illustrating each groups customs: a formal tea in an Okinawan home and an informal drop-in for coffee in an
American living room; Okinawan and American weddings; the bathing,
dressing, and feeding of babies; and demonstrations of how Okinawan
and American women dressed, starting from undergarments (the American woman wore a girdle and bra, the Okinawan woman, an underskirt)
and finishing with make-up and hair-styling. An American model displayed maternity underclothes that reportedly brought gasps of amazement, and understanding, from the Okinawan women.66
The monthly meetings of the International Club provided opportunities for Americans and Okinawans to define their values and demonstrate
Dear Little Okinawa 185

their customs, and to understand cultural differences. In so many ways,

their customs and habits differ from ours, wrote Marian Merritt. And
who is to say which way is best? These scenes acknowledged cultural differences yet also represented attempts to bridge them by demonstrating
that although the accouterments of each culture might appear dissimilar
on the surface, the peoples were essentially the same. According to Merritt, gender, the home, and families united women of different cultures:
East and West have met and we have found that women the world over
think and feel the same. We are all interested in the same thingsour
homes, our families, our flowers, our food.67 The women believed that
these stage scenes served to demystify each culture, to unveil the differences between American and Okinawan women, allowing them to see
one another more clearly.
Upon arriving in Okinawa in 1952, Marian Merritt wrote that the
Americans were doing much good work among the natives . . . helping
them to rehabilitation and I can see that we are going to love this tour of
duty. But in the course of her stay, she came to see herself as not only rehabilitating, but also learning from and being influenced by the Okinawan
people. Merritt acknowledged that she did not always understand Okinawans, and worried that the language barrier is a great one and often
leaves me feeling that I am seeing through a glass darkly.68 But she
wrote that she strived to understand and grew to appreciate numerous aspects of Okinawan culture and life. She credited her maid with teaching
her about Okinawan perspectives. For instance, Merritt found particularly awful the Okinawan tradition of leaving the dead to decay in
tombs but considered the practice more comprehensible when her maid
expressed aversion to Western burials.69 Merritt also said that in her Japanese flower-arranging class she learned to avoid creating offensive
flower arrangements. Instead of crowding a bunch of flowers, untrimmed,
all the same length, into a vase set in the center of a table, she learned to
think about the flowers and her own spirit in order to give meaning to the
arrangement: [My] teacher had told us that our arrangements must first
express the spirit of the arranger, so, before I could start the actual arrangement, I had to ponder on my spirit. According to Merritt, Our
teacher is intriguedand puzzledwith her class of American women.
She says that we all spend more time and effort locating flowers and buying vases than we do in thought and actually arranging.70
Marian Merritt considered Okinawan culture superior in some ways to
American culture. She liked the Okinawans pride in advancing age, in
contrast to the American desire to appear ever-more youthful (Merritt
was in her early fifties when she published her account). She enjoyed what
she called the calm beauty and composure of Oriental life, in contrast
186 Dear Little Okinawa

Marian Merritt (left, at the end of the table) with Okinawan acquaintances.

to the hurry, nervousness, and excitability fostered by American society.

She appreciated the obedience and eagerness to learn exhibited by Okinawan children and looked upon them more favorably than American children whom she thought undisciplined and disrespectful. She also liked the
close connections between Okinawan teachers and their pupils families.
Merritt wrote that she reacted with astonishment when a chaplain told
her that It is so nice of you [American] women to teach the Okinawans
in the International Club. In her view, we have learned as much as, if
not more than, we have taught. . . . It is hard to figure out who teaches
In various activities, Marian Merritt contributed to what American
Studies scholar Mari Yoshihara has argued is white American womens
construction of Orientalism. In learning Japanese-style flower arranging
and wearing kimonos, Merritt consumed an idea of Asian-ness, and also
performed her own understanding of Asian womanhood. In her book,
Merritt positioned herself as an authority on Okinawa to Americans.
Such activities may not have accurately represented Okinawan culture
and gender roles, and served to exoticize and objectivize Asia for Westerners, although Merritt saw herself as assisting Americans to better understand and respect Okinawans values and customs. They also, however,
empowered Merritt and other military wives who engaged in similar pursuits to experience what for them was a kind of creative freedom of expression and an alternative to the strictures of white American femininity.
And in the role of authority on Okinawa, Merritt acquired a degree of
power and status not readily available to American women in the 1950s.72
Dear Little Okinawa 187

Photograph from U.S. Lady article honoring Marian Merritt as

U.S. Lady-of-the-Month (April 1956).

Marian Merritts account of her relations with Okinawans illustrates

an ideological contradiction encountered by American wives at overseas
bases. She expressed concern for the well-being of the Okinawan people
and admired many aspects of their culture. Nevertheless, she ultimately
believed that the military presence benefited Okinawans more than it
harmed them. The cultural-relativist perspective did not extend to all aspects of Okinawan life. Merritt wanted not only to understand and appreciate Okinawan culture and society, but she also wanted to influence them
in fundamental ways. She hoped that Okinawans would convert to Christianity and reject communism. And she wanted Okinawan women to
know what she considered the positive aspects of the American way of
life, especially the modern American home and what she regarded as the
more egalitarian relations between husbands and wives.
Marian Merritt professed respect for Okinawans spiritual beliefs, yet
she and other Americans hoped to encourage Christianity in the Ryukyu
Islands. The predominant expression of religion in Okinawa combined
animism and devotion to ancestors, influenced by the diverse traditions
188 Dear Little Okinawa

of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto, and Christianity. Although

Christian Okinawans remained few, a Newsweek article reported that the
number of Christian congregations had increased from ten to thirty between World War II and 1947. A 1952 military pamphlet estimated that
5,000 Okinawans had become Catholics or Protestants, and said that
most Okinawan Christians belonged to a group called the Christ Church
of Okinawa, described as entirely a native church overseen by Okinawan pastors and financially supported by the Foreign Missions division of
the Methodist Church and the Foreign Missions Conference of America.73
Through churches, Americans and Okinawan Christians engaged in
projects intended to aid Okinawans, encourage their commitment to
Christianity, and increase contacts between the two peoples. The Kadena
Chapel Guild to which Marian Merritt belonged engaged in numerous
charitable activities that included donating blankets and heaters to a hospital and money and clothing to a Christian church in the village of Yonabaru. Merritt said that she and other guild members brought the offerings themselves because the missionaries had told them that the recipients
appreciated the personal visits as much as, if not more than, the money
and other help. The chapel guild also offered charitable assistance to
Okinawan children and worked with them in orphanages and schools. At
Christmastime, Americans gave presents to Okinawan children and tried
to spread the Christmas Spirit.74
Encounters between American and Okinawan Christians enabled service wives (and their husbands who sometimes accompanied them in
church activities) to demonstrate American good will and generosity toward Okinawans in a manner that they hoped would influence Okinawans to see deep interconnections between the military, the American
way of life (especially American prosperity and the importance of families), and Christianity. The American women from the chapel guild invited
the Yonabaru Christians and other residents of the village, including the
mayor, teachers, and other dignitaries, to worship at the chapel at the
Kadena air base, where together the Americans and Okinawans sang
Christian hymns in Japanese and English. Following the service, the
Americans took the eighty-four Okinawans on a tour of the air base
where they watched military planes taking off and landing, and then Mr.
Merritt took the Okinawan guests to the Merritt residence so they could
see a real American home. Afterward, everyone returned to the Kadena
chapel where the Americans hosted a dinner for their guests. The American women, out of consideration for Okinawan tastes and customs, had
prepared rice- and noodle-based casseroles and provided chopsticks as
well as spoons. After ice cream and cookies, the Americans and Okinawans sang more hymns.75
Dear Little Okinawa 189

The abundant dinner offered to the Okinawans, along with displays of

military planes and the Merritt home and the projection of Christian fellowship, might have persuaded some Okinawans of Yonabaru to see the
military presence not as harmful and exploitative but rather as friendly
and beneficial for all concerned. The aims of American Christians in Okinawa dovetailed with their nations military and foreign relations goals.
The military presence in the Ryukyu Islands facilitated the spread of
Christianity through American families and missionaries who wished to
see, in Marian Merritts words, the Christianizing of dear little Okinawa. According to Merritt, the Okinawans she knew believed that the
American heart is big. She and the other chapel guild women would have
hoped that their Christian charity and warmth were seen by Okinawans
as characteristic of all Americans; and the military establishment also
would have wanted to be seen as beneficial to Okinawans. Moreover,
American Christians, in combining the religious mission with the anticommunist mission, supported American Cold War goals. The American
womens chapel guild brought Christians of all denominations together
for an island-wide Missionary Day. Moved by the missionaries accounts
of their work on the island, Merritt related how one proselytizer who
does not teach religion directly . . . [at the University of the Ryukyus] is
able to plant a doubt in the students minds about the Communist propaganda they hear.76
The education of Okinawans also involved a display of the superiority
of the American home. Marian Merritt wrote that Each American here is
really a missionaryfor the free world, if not completely in the religious
sense of the word. Everything we do is noted, thought about and compared. The American way of life is being appraisedconstantly. She
made contacts with Okinawans from all social classesmaids, gardeners,
flower peddlers, teachers, reporters, missionaries, and wives of Okinawan government leaders. Years before the Nixon-Khrushchev kitchen
debate in Moscow, Merritt invited Okinawans into her home to show
off its modern appliances and fixtures. Her description of a visit by a
large Okinawan family illustrates how social interactions between American and Okinawan women presented opportunities for exposing Okinawans to aspects of American home life that would not have existed without American families on the island. After dinner, Marian Merritt recounted,
Bob took the men for a tour of the base while the women did the dishes
and visited here at home. I felt sorry about the women not going on the
tour until I realized what a thrill they were getting just being in an American home. . . . An electric stove was a marvel to them, an electric refrig190 Dear Little Okinawa

erator something beyond all dreams. Our little electric mixer was something they couldnt understand at all. Those of you who know what an
Okinawan benjo is, will realize what they thought of an American toilet.

Describing a visit from another group of Okinawans, Merritt wrote

that a flush toilet is like one of the seven wonders of the world to these
people.77 In likening a bathroom fixture ubiquitous in the United States
to ancient architectural feats such as the Egyptian pyramids, Merritt made
evident her great pride in American household technology while judging
her nation as thousands of years more civilized than Okinawa.
Thousands of miles from the home front, on this tiny island teeming
with American weapons systems and military men, Marian Merritts
kitchen and bathroom represented American power in nonmilitaristic
terms. Early Cold War Americans equated their modern conveniences
with their countrys strength, affluence, democracy, and freedom. While
other peoples of the world struggled to recover from the destruction and
losses of World War II, Americans purchased cars and the latest kitchen
equipment. The availability and vast selection of these items also stood for
American democracy during the consumption-oriented 1950s. Moreover,
foreshadowing Nixons argument with Khrushchev several years later,

Marian Merritt (right) with her husband and daughter.

Dear Little Okinawa 191

Merritt believed that appliances liberated American women from the

drudgery of housework.78 According to Merritt, her home exhibitions
awed her guests and to her pleasure received coverage in Okinawan newspapers.
Marian Merritt also used the setting of her home to instruct Okinawan
women in American gender relations. She observed that her maid took
great pains to please Bob Merrittironing his clothes but not Marians,
reserving the choicest portions of food for him. Marian Merritt reported
disapprovingly that She, like all Okinawan women, worships the men.
She delighted in demonstrating the more egalitarian relations between
American men and women. An Okinawan woman reporter who witnessed Mr. Merritt assisting Mrs. Merritt in the kitchen described the
scene, and the Okinawan womens reaction to it, in a local paper: We
were only struck with admiration at this sight. The incident appeared to
us as . . . the beautiful American life explained in Little Women. . . . Besides the adequately equipped rooms, there is the warm affection of the
American husband. What a blessed race the American women are!79
While Marian Merritt hoped that exposure to modern appliances and
American gender relations would elevate Okinawan womens expectations for themselves, her informal influence also served as a vehicle for
winning over Okinawan women to American Cold War foreign relations
goals. She believed that modern appliances would liberate Okinawan
women from heavy work, and that they would find satisfaction in more
egalitarian marriages. She expressed delight that an Okinawan couple
married in a Christian wedding (by an Okinawan minister) omitted the
word obey from their vows. I have talked about the place of women
in American life so much, declared Merritt, that Bob says if I dont stop
telling the Okinawan women how free and easy our life is and how much
power American women have over their husbands with just that little
word Love, that Okinawan men may start an Anti-Merritt campaign just
to shut me up.80 Mrs. Merritt hoped that her efforts to persuade women
of the superiority of American gender relations (at the risk of antagonizing Okinawan men) and to Americanize the Okinawan domestic sphere
made Okinawan women more supportive of the military presence.
Merritts efforts to uplift Okinawan women according to American
notions of egalitarian gender relations resembled and carried on the work
of U.S. occupiers who in previous years had viewed the emancipation of
Japanese women as critical to the democratization of Japan. Scholar Mire
Koikari has shown that in transforming Japanese government by implementing womens suffrage and revising the Japanese constitution to include an equal rights amendment for women (an amendment which still
does not exist in the United States own constitution), the Western occupi192 Dear Little Okinawa

ers who perceived Japanese women as victims of oppressive gender roles

received little input from Japanese women themselves and thus perpetuated the notion of Japanese women as helpless, while reinforcing U.S. cultural and political dominance in Japan. In the minds of the occupiers, establishing equality between Japanese women and men entailed reshaping
Japanese gender roles in the likeness of mid-twentieth-century American
gender relations. Furthermore, although occupiers such as General Douglas MacArthur claimed that democratic ideals were universally appealing
and beneficial, the American project of incorporating women into Japanese governance took place with the express intent of recruiting Japanese
women to support U.S. political and strategic aims, including the maintenance of U.S. bases during the Cold War. And the occupiers did not
consider valid the political activism of all women: American women occupiers worked closely with elite and middle-class Japanese women, but
American authorities and the Japanese government obstructed workingclass womens union activism because it allegedly furthered communism.81

shiro Tatsuhiros The Cocktail Party

Literature by residents of occupied and host nations can serve as a means
for understanding what American military families represented in the
shiro Tatsuhiros novella The Cocktail Party, publocal imagination. O
lished in 1967, conveys the inequality in the relationship between Americans and Okinawans. The story, which won Japans Akutagawa Prize in
literature, centers on the Okinawan narrators anguish over his daughters
rape by an American soldier. The tale begins prior to the assault, with the
narrator arriving at what he calls the family brigade, where he has been
invited to the home of an American couple (Mr. and Mrs. Miller) for a
cocktail party.82 Using a military term to describe the on-base housing for
American families indicates the segregation and the oppositional relationship the narrator feels exists between the Americans and Okinawans, despite the friendly overture of the invitation to the party. Walking past the
guard house to the party, he recalls that ten years before, while attempting
to take a shortcut through the American housing area, he had lost his way
and realized that he was a stranger in his own homeland.83
At the party, where the food and liquor are bountiful (as is commonly
portrayed in nonfictional descriptions of gatherings hosted by American families), the conversation drifts toward the historical relationships
among China, Japan, and the Ryukyu Islands, and the question of
whether Okinawan culture should be considered distinct from mainland
Japans. While the American and mainland Japanese participants in the
Dear Little Okinawa 193

conversation consider it to be so, the Okinawan narrator insists that it is

not.84 The narrators position on this issue is a political one. In the 1960s,
when this story was published, the Okinawan movement to revert from
U.S. military control to Japanese governance was in full swing. While
Americans who supported the U.S. military presence stressed the cultural
and historical differences between Okinawa and the Japanese mainland to
justify it, and Japanese mainlanders historically had treated Okinawans as
culturally different and inferior (which to Americans justified prolonging
the occupation), Okinawans who wanted to terminate U.S. control emphasized their connections with Japan.
After the conversation takes a turn toward the history of what a Japanese guest lightly calls cultural exchange between China, Japan, and
Okinawa, the party is interrupted by the news that the son of one of the
guests, an Army engineer named Mr. Morgan, has disappeared. The
guests disperse to help search for the son, who, it is later discovered, had
been taken by the familys maid to visit her village.85
But when the narrator returns home, he discovers that his daughter has
been raped by an American soldier who rented an apartment from the
narrators family. After the assault, the daughter pushes her attacker off of
an embankment, which results in him breaking his leg and charging her
with assault. The narrator is devastated and outraged. While his daughter
is to be tried on assault charges, the Status of Forces Agreement between
the United States and Japan makes it extremely difficult to bring charges
against the American attacker in an Okinawan court, or to call an American as a witness against his will.86
For assistance in bringing his daughters assailant to trial, the narrator
prevails upon Mr. Miller at his home. Upon hearing the narrators account
of his daughters attack, the formerly friendly Mr. Miller becomes cold
and stern, and chides the narrator for asking him to help, endangering
what Miller calls the equality, balance, and good will that exist between Americans and Okinawans. Mrs. Miller, who teaches English to the
narrators daughter, expresses concern about the girls absence from class,
but grows uncomfortable when she learns of the attack, then leaves the
discussion.87 Clearly, she does not want to become involved in this crisis.
Subsequently, the narrator turns to a mainland Japanese friend, Mr.
Ogawa, and a Chinese acquaintance, Mr. Sun, an attorney residing in
Okinawa. The latter is ambivalent about assisting the narrator. The narrator and Mr. Ogawa learn that in 1945, late in the occupation of China by
Japanese forces, a Japanese soldier had raped Mr. Suns wife. In this way,
the author acknowledges Japans violence against China in previous decades. Indeed, the narrator recalls his own service in the Japanese army in
occupied China, and his insensitivity to the plight of the Chinese. Shocked
194 Dear Little Okinawa

by Mr. Suns revelation, the narrator insists that despiteor perhaps even
because ofthe history of Japanese aggression against the Chinese, Mr.
Sun must aid him in bringing charges against the American soldier, despite
the suffering it will cause his daughter. Later, in deciding to proceed with
the case against Robert Harris, the narrator tells Mr. Sun that the justice
I seek for my daughter is the same you would want for the victims of Japanese occupation in China.88
Coinciding with the narrators decision to pursue charges against Harris is the news that Mr. Morgan has decided to press charges against his
maid for taking his son to her village without permission. While Americans frequently touted informal visits to the homes of local people as symbolic of international friendship, in this story, an innocent gesture by a
naive young woman has become a crime. Again, the author wants to convey to the reader the tremendous imbalance of power between Americans
and Okinawans, despite Americans proclamations of strong friendship.
It isnt just the crime of one American that I want to indict, says the
narrator, but all the pretense of the cocktail partywhat he considers
to be a facade of friendliness and cooperation, masking the domination
and oppression of Okinawans by the U.S. military.89 His indictment encompasses American military families, whom he sees as accomplices in
maintaining the facade.
What do the American and Okinawan women and children represent
in this story? In contrast to the real-life Marian Merritt, who believed that
American wives could help improve the status of Okinawan women, the
shiros story expresses no gender solidarity with the
American wife in O
narrators daughter. The narrator finds Mrs. Miller friendly, in a superficial sort of way, and attractive. The Okinawan daughter and the American wife symbolize the unequal relationship between the U.S. occupiers
and the Okinawan subjects. After learning of his daughters rape, the narrator briefly imagines sexually assaulting the American wife, but is unable
to go very far in this vengeful fantasy. Other Okinawan women briefly appear in the story as maids and baby-sitters for American families, accentuating the unequal relationship between the Americans and the Okinawans
who serve them.90
The story also contrasts the treatment of the American and Okinawan
children to underscore the inequality of Okinawans in relation to Americans, and what the narrator sees as the hypocrisy of American rhetoric
about American-Okinawan friendship and cooperation. Whereas Mr.
Morgan is pressing charges against the maid who took his son to her village without permission, the narrators family does not have the equal
means to pursue his daughters assailant in court; indeed, his daughter has
been charged with a crime by the U.S. military. The daughter does not
Dear Little Okinawa 195

wish to press charges against Robert Harris, though her father continues
to seek a way to do so. Thus, for both the Okinawan family and the Morgan family, the children are pawns in an international conflict, not vehicles for international cooperation, as Americans often portrayed them.

Americans wished to consider themselves benefactors to Okinawans, but
any positive aspects of maintaining their nations armed forces on the
islandAmericans would have pointed to charity and employment as
among the most important benefitswere countered by the costs of bearing an enormous foreign military presence. Service wives attempted to
ameliorate the hardships faced by Okinawans, but the military bases
and their inhabitants inevitably altered local communities and used the
islands scarce resources. Although American women wanted to reduce
prostitution and poverty among Okinawans, these problems remained.91
Furthermore, although profits from ventures such as the Naha and Nago
shops were intended to aid poor Okinawan families, the reliance on charitable assistance and the base economy perpetuated the cycle of Okinawans dependence on the United Statesthrough restaurants, bars, tourist shops, domestic work, and prostitutionand not incidentally were
used to support the argument for maintaining U.S. bases on the island.
Besides the toll exacted by the military presence, the divergence of aims
and the contrast between cultures militated against Okinawans acceptance of U.S. bases. In West Germany, U.S. anti-communist military and
foreign relations goals frequently converged with the local populations
desire to stave off Soviet encroachment and promote capitalism. Thus,
West Germans were more inclined to tolerate U.S. bases than not. By contrast, the anti-communist foreign policy of the United States that claimed
to require control of Okinawa as a defensive strategy clashed with Okinawans aspirations for Japanese government and an end to the military
presence. Moreover, the American and West German cultures intersected
more frequently than did the American and Okinawan cultures and thus
strengthened the unity between the United States and West Germany. For
instance, many Americans and West Germans found a meeting ground in
Christianity and whiteness, whereas religious and other cultural as well as
racial differences between Americans and Okinawans upheld Americans
sense of Okinawans as a backward people and contributed to arguments
for U.S. military dominance of the Ryukyu Islands, which further alienated and angered Okinawans.
In their interactions with Okinawans, American military families, espe196 Dear Little Okinawa

cially wives, could reach beyond official relations to build cultural and social bridges. Service wives engaged in activities which they hoped would
improve perceptions of Americans and the difficult economic situation of
Okinawans. Some American women, most notably Marian Merritt, even
came to care for Okinawans and admire their values and ways. But ultimately, military wives activities rested on and perpetuated stereotypes of
Okinawans as vulnerable children and assumptions about their dependency. In so doing, military wives and their families helped the United
States maintain its bases in what military and government leaders considered to be a crucial Asian outpost in the war against communism, and to
justify U.S. control of Okinawa, despite the peoples strong desire to return to Japanese governance. American womens efforts evidently did not
turn the tide of the reversion movement, which grew stronger in the 1960s
and finally resulted in the return of the islands to Japan in 1972, although
many U.S. military bases remained.

Dear Little Okinawa 197

Young Ambassadors

When the ship carrying the family of Ann and Robert Chase
docked in Genoa, Italy, in 1955, four-year-old Debby walked down the
gangplank and greeted an Italian policeman with Buon giorno. The delighted policeman responded warmly, Buon giorno, bambina Americana! According to Ann Chase, her daughters greeting sparked a beautiful friendship between Italy and my three children. During Robert
Chases three-year tour of duty with the Support Command, Southern European Task Force at Camp Darby, the family lived in an Italian neighborhood near the base. Nancy, Debby, and Robbie Chase befriended the Italians who came to their house: the fruit vendor, the garbage collector, the
landlord, and the donkey-ride man. Ann Chase described her childrens
encounters with Italians in their neighborhood as mak[ing] friends naturally . . . in the ordinary activities of day-to-day living.1
After World War II, service childrens friendship with people overseas
served as a resonant metaphor for ideal relations between the United
States and other nations. In an article on raising children in military life
abroad, service mother Marcia Matthews observed that childrens getting along with others was a basic tenet of American education. An
American teacher in Tokyo declared in 1948 that Army children, more
than their civilian peers, embodied world citizenship because of their
experience in adapting to ways of living radically different from [their]
own.2 Well-behaved, friendly children who because of their youth exercised less social power than adults were considered natural internationalists. As the least threatening group of Americans, they were believed to
easily befriend residents of occupied and host nations. Service mothers in
particular, and also American educators, promulgated an idea of children
as more capable than adults of transcending cultural differences between
Americans and other peoples, and of facilitating relations between their
parents and local adults. In the minds of Americans, childrens ready acquisition of local languages and their enthusiasm for learning about the
culture and history of the nations in which they lived modeled foreign relations in their ideal form.

Armed forces orientation programs and literature, parents, and schools

encouraged service children to learn the languages and customs of other
nations and thereby demonstrate respect and appreciation for other peoples and their ways of life. Yet children also were expected to project
American ideals of democracy and individuality. In the words of one educator, prepar[ing] the child for world societythat is, cultivating childrens knowledge of occupied and host nation histories, cultures, and
ways, and helping young Americans establish friendly relations with residents of communities outside military bases in the present and with the
goal of maintaining future international alliances would, it was assumed, [develop] attitudes and understandings for successful, peaceful
relations with other countries while upholding American ideals.3 Thus,
in their relations with non-Americans abroad, children, like their mothers, encountered an ideological contradiction that characterized U.S. Cold
War international objectives: they were to demonstrate appreciation of
and respect for diverse cultures and ways while projecting the superiority of American economic, political, and social institutions. Childrens
misbehavior, which inevitably occurred despite great efforts to minimize
it, exposed these tensions and called into question the image of friendship and good intentions that Cold War Americans wanted to project

Prescriptions for Childrens Behavior Abroad

According to the official advice for American children, they played a significant role in relations between the United States and foreign countries. The orientation program for family members arriving in Germany
in 1946 instructed the youngsters in attendance that Even if you dont
play with German children, the chances are that German children will
be watching everything you do, virtually every move you make. You
will have a chance to set the exampleeither good or badfor them.
The occupation government wanted children, designated young ambassadors of democracy, to promote democratization by practicing good
sportsmanship and fair play among yourselves, and obedience of rules
and regulationsas will set a good example for German youth which
needs to learn much about these things.4
The idea of children as ambassadors reappeared in Army pamphlets
published in the 1950s for families stationed anywhere overseas: Your
children, too, you must remember, are just as much ambassadors of good
will as you are. . . . Spoiled youngsters . . . hamper our best efforts at promoting good relations abroad.5 During the 1950s, Americans who were
Young Ambassadors


sensitive to criticisms of their compatriots abroad feared that ill-behaved

children would reinforce stereotypes of rude, arrogant Americans and discredit claims made by the military and politicians about the superiority of
the American way of life. A 1952 Army pamphlet for families en route to
foreign bases proposed how children could simultaneously demonstrate
appreciation for local cultures and embody American ideals. It suggested
that parents teach children about how foreign cultures enriched American
culture, that the American way of life, itself, owes a great deal to its foreign pioneers. The booklet also informed parents that Loving, wellmannered children can be a tremendous help in showing foreign men and
women a better picture of American life. Whether the intended meaning
was a more impressive picture than that suggested by other representations, perhaps such as those conveyed by single servicemen or American
popular culture, or a more complete picture of American life, the statement implies that children could model American economic, social, and
political ideals and institutions and the benefits believed by Cold War
Americans to flow from these.6
Unofficial prescriptive literature composed by and for service youth advised them that their military status conferred upon them the responsibility of getting along well with people in other countries. Patsy Laux, a generals daughter, described growing up in the military as a life in which
you come into contact with all types of people thrown into one huge melting pot, and in which you learn to respect peoples ideas, which may be
radically different from your own.7 In an article about relations with
host nationals, teenager Henrietta Schwartz informed young readers that,
by being born into a military family, [you] inherited the hard job of actively representing your country. She advised readers to be sensitive to
local expectations of childrens behavior, and cautioned that American
teenagers who behaved in a casual and outgoing manner might be considered rude, rather than friendly, by non-Americans.8
In questionnaires completed between March 1999 and March 2000,
former service children confirmed a strong awareness that the sons and
daughters of military personnel were to exhibit exemplary behavior
abroad. Whether in the United States or foreign countries, service children
were admonished that bad behavior could be detrimental to their fathers
military careers. Joyace Ann Downing Katz, whose father served in the
Air Force in Spain between 1958 and 1961, said that I feared my Dads
wrath so I never stepped over the line. Katz learned about the behavior
expected of military children from lists of rules provided by her fathers
military base, and from her high schools monthly paper. It was be good
or be gone, recalled Katz. We were expected to be better than kids in

200 Young Ambassadors

America. Even children who did not consider themselves unofficial ambassadors overseas knew from their parents that any trouble they caused
could result in their familys return to the United States. Dale Drysdale,
the son of a school principal and superintendent of schools for service
children, lived among and attended school with service children between
1957 and 1964. He said that among his eleven- and twelve-year old peers,
it was common wisdom that children who received delinquency reports endangered their fathers chances for promotion and risked the return of their families to the United States.9
Many service children, especially older ones, were aware of the connections between the militarys expectations of good conduct and the overseas image of the United States. Hudson Bill Phillips, the son of an
Army chaplain, lived in Stuttgart, Germany between 1951 and 1953 and
attended Heidelberg American High School. He recalled receiving guidance on how to behave as a goodwill representative in Germany from
numerous sources. All family members departing for Europe from Fort
Hamilton, New York, attended an orientation at which a military representative informed them that they would be ambassadors of the United
States and distributed mimeographed instructions prescribing good behavior as well as behavior to avoid. The families were given more prescriptive materials aboard ship en route to Europe. In Germany, schools,
military memos, and Stars and Stripes reminded family members of their
ambassadorial duties. Children who participated in Scouting programs
and sports events were briefed whenever their activities brought them into
contact with the German community.10

Accounts of Childrens and Teenagers Interactions with

Local Peoples Abroad
Military wives accounts of life overseas promulgated an ideal of children
as valuable agents for smoothing relations between Americans and local
people, including those in occupied countries. Frequent contacts between
American children and residents of an occupied nation purportedly could
make occupation seem less militaristic and more humane. In her portrait
of her familys life in occupied Germany, Army wife Lelah Berry said that
she sensed bitterness toward Americans from Germans she encountered.
Berry felt that hungry Berliners resented her as she carried armloads of
groceries home from the commissary. She perceived that while the Germans considered her a member of the occupying forces, relations between

Young Ambassadors


Germans and her children Jimmy (age eight) and Bonnie (age five) were
friendlier, presumably because young American children seemed less
threatening. The children frequently interacted with Germans in encounters Berry depicted as pleasant. Three young German women accompanied the children on the bus to and from the American school. Jimmy
took piano lessons from a German woman who came to the Berry home.
The familys German housekeeper, whose husband was killed in World
War II, spoke English well, cared for the children, and insisted on working
beyond her allotted sixty hours a week to help them with their homework.11
Ann Chase stated that her childrens natural associations with Italians in their neighborhood had allowed the Chase family to buil[d] up a
battery of good will to offset the occasional unfriendly encounter with a
local person. By natural associations, Chase meant everyday, informal
contacts with Italians in or around the homefor instance, between the
children and the neighborhood fruit vendoras opposed to official activities intended to bring together Americans and host nationals, such as military-sponsored club meetings. Chases characterization of the childrens
relations with Italians as natural underscores the idea that children
who were American but less powerful or intimidating than their servicemen fathers or even their motherswere inherently suited for befriending
people in foreign countries and could be more influential than propaganda or official military representatives in establishing friendship and
trust. Her use of the military term battery to describe her childrens accumulation of good will toward Italians emphasizes the perception of informal friendly relations as a component of Cold War military missions
Mothers depicted childrens friendships as the foundation for developing international friendships in peacetime. According to Lelah Berry, her
son Jimmy soon dropped his initial hostility toward Germans to befriend
local boys and play football with them. Bonnie Berry played with a German girl named Inge who every morning waited for the American girl to
return from school. Lelah Berry gave fruit or cake to the neighborhood
children who visited Jimmy and Bonnie. The German childrens relative
smallness (probably due to inadequate nutrition during the war years)
and their friendship with her children softened her attitude toward the
German people against whom she had harbored resentment for instigating the war.13
In some cases, service mothers turned over to their children the responsibility for initiating interactions between adults. According to a 1953 Air
Force report on families in Germany, From the very first days, dependent

202 Young Ambassadors

children tended to serve as a link between German and American families. The report credited American children for learning German quickly,
acting as interpreters for their parents, befriending German children, and
initiating contacts between their parents and the parents of their German
friends. The mother of Inge, the German friend of Bonnie Berry, demonstrated friendliness toward the Berry family by sending gifts for Bonnie
hand-drawn picture books of fairy tales which she has laboriously
printed in English, or a knitted woolen scarf or some mittens. According
to Lelah Berry, The Germans seem to love American children, and would
spoil them rotten if given half a chance. In Japan, Jean Louise and Captain Lauren Elkin befriended neighbors through their children. The Elkin
family lived in a Japanese house in Kasahata because of the unavailability
of military housing. Lauren Junior (age three-and-a-half) befriended local
youngsters who frequently came to the house to play with him and ride in
the familys car. Lauren Juniors friends also taught Japanese words to
Jean Louise Elkin. The friendship between the American boy and his playmates prompted Japanese adults in the neighborhood to invite Lauren
Juniors parents to social events. Eventually, Jean Elkin became a volunteer teacher for Japanese children and recruited other American wives to
do the same, and also taught Japanese for Americans at Whiteman Air
Force Base.14 Adult Americans and residents of occupied and host nations
may have found it easier, especially in the early stages of acquaintanceships, to demonstrate friendliness through children, rather than risking
face-to-face encounters with former enemies who still might harbor prejudice and reject proffered kindness.
A fictional short story about a military family in Italy illustrated American ideas of how children could help parents overcome the fear of living
in a strange place and appreciate the experience of being abroad. In Domani, the narrator, Mrs. MacDonald, arrives in Italy expecting that her
family will live in a beautiful home, perhaps on the sea. She is severely disappointed when she arrives at her new residence, a modest, sparsely furnished house. Mrs. MacDonald resents that the Italians stare at her and
her son, Bobby, when they venture into town, and perceives animosity in
the children whom she describes as horrible street urchins and strange
little devils. She feels like an outsider who will never fit in among the
Catholic farmers of the village, and grows increasingly embittered, isolated, and depressed. Her husband, Frank, hires an Italian woman, Lucia,
to care for the house and child. Although the woman is pleasant, Mrs.
MacDonald resents her. When Lucia finishes her daily work at the MacDonalds house, she takes Bobby home with her so that he can play with
her son, Tonio. The boys develop a close friendship. At one point, Bobby

Young Ambassadors


falls seriously ill, but survives. Mrs. MacDonald finally experiences a

change of heart toward the Italian people of the village when she learns
that Tonio intends to give formal thanks to San Antonio on the saints
day, presumably for answering the Italian boys prayers for Bobbys recovery. Gradually I came to understand the deep meaning of Tonios action, recalls Mrs. MacDonald, and with the understanding the wound
in my heart began to heal. Looking back on it now I know that it was the
thoughtfulness of a small boy, making a pilgrimage for his American
friend, that led me to change my attitude toward the village and its way of
life. Tonios generosity of spirit toward Bobby forces Mrs. MacDonald
to see that she has behaved selfishly and sparks her appreciation for the
Italian villagers and this country I had learned to love.15
Stories of American childrens unconstrained relations with local children and adults, facilitated by their apparently easy acquisition of languages, revealed the assumption that children could communicate more
naturally than their parents with non-Americans. This supposed ease of
communication represented an ideal of international relations based on
simple and artless friendliness, untainted by politics and other complications created by adults. A teacher for American service children in Paris
marveled that it seemed . . . the young people absorbed [French] by osmosis, and noted that many of the students who had lived in other countries already knew two or three languages. She also admitted that American teachers who sat in on the childrens language classes were unable to
keep the pace set by the children.
The theme of childrens ready language acquisition emerged frequently
in accounts of military family life abroad. Dont be surprised if [your
child] learns [a host nation language] more quickly than you do, advised
Ann Chase. Children are remarkably adept at mimicry and hardly inclined to worry about verb order and sentence construction. They are
soon rattling off sentences that may leave you open-mouthed. Its a wonderful boost to their ego to interpret for you. She told of how on a visit
to a ski resort, her daughter interpreted for her flustered father the instructions given to him by the Italian lift ticket-seller. Chase strongly advocated that children learn the local language: The most helpful and rewarding thing you can do for your young child is to encourage him to
learn the language of the country. Lillian Mowrer wrote that after six
weeks with Polish children her daughter spoke their language easily; at
age ten the girl entered a French school and after three months could follow classes taught in the language. Bonnie Berry, a kindergartner, learned
simple German words and phrases such as danke schn and bitte. Young
children were taught polite expressions first because such words were easy

204 Young Ambassadors

and used commonly. Furthermore, they were fundamental to good relations with residents of occupied and host nations. Lelah Berry attributed
her childrens ease with speaking German to an absence of self-consciousness.16 These mothers observations attest to the idea that children understood other languages, and, by extension, other peoples better than American adults did, through an innate connection to others through the supposed universality of childhood.
Many former service children confirm that they, and other children
they knew, acquired varying degrees of fluency in foreign languages while
stationed abroad. Some say that they learned only basic phrases such as
greetings, expressions of courtesy, and those necessary for shopping, ordering in restaurants, or traveling. Jo Wilson Emerson, the daughter of an
Army officer, said that she and the Japanese she encountered used a combination of Japanese and English to communicate. A former service teenager whose family lived in France described herself as semi-fluent in the
language. She recounted that her father asked her to translate to help him
sort out an incident involving a GI who had taken a sixteen-year-old
French girl to Germany. Joyace Katz, whose family lived in Spain, spoke
Spanish well and said that her younger sister at age four spoke German,
French, and Spanish. John Walker, the son of an Army officer who learned
German while living in Stuttgart between 1956 and 1959, stated in 1999
that German is certainly a second language for me. Walker learned German by studying it for two years at Stuttgart-Ludwigsburg American
High School and practicing it in daily contacts with Germans. Upon returning to the United States, Walker enrolled in a college German class.
The effect of the language on him has endured over the decades; he says
that he still sometimes thinks and frequently dreams in German.17
Former military children recalled a wide range of contacts with residents of occupied and host nations. The variety of contacts suggests that
children possibly encountered local peoples as much as, if not more than,
military wives did. Sons and daughters in military families, especially
those who lived off base, had frequent contacts with non-Americansin
shops and churches, with maids and neighbors, at school, in Girl Scout
and Boy Scout activities, on public transportation, and on camping trips
and other excursions. Many teenagers attended parties and dances with
occupied and host national teenagers. Elizabeth Thomas, the daughter of
an Army noncommissioned officer stationed in Wrzburg between 1950
and 1954, said that she encountered Germans every day during her four
years in Germany: they worked in her home as housekeepers; at Nrnberg American High School as teachers, secretaries, and cafeteria employees; and everywhere on base. Thomas also socialized with Germans in

Young Ambassadors


her Teen Club. Service children who initially lived off base (usually while
their families awaited on-base housing) said that their contacts with local
peoples decreased after they moved to the base, although they still encountered them on base, in their homes, and on occasional excursions off
Relations with domestic employees in occupied and host nations were
among the most common steady contacts between service children (who
lived on or off base) and local peoples, and could provide opportunities
for friendly, even intimate relations amid political tensions. Service wives
and children often characterized such relations as affectionate, even in the
context of occupation. Army wife Bernadine Lee wrote that before arriving in Tokyo to join her husband in 1946, I had . . . vowed that no Japanese girl would lay hands on my own baby. The competence of a Japanese woman hired to care for her son, and his affection for her, changed
Lees mind.19
The son of an Army officer whose family was among the first to arrive
in occupied Germany in 1946 said that he and his brother (both teenagers) enjoyed a warm relationship with the familys housekeeper and
cook. For his seventeenth birthday, the maid gave him a book awarded to
her brother, a 1936 Olympic gold medalist killed in the war. Children
often grew close to domestic employees and learned to converse with
them in their language more easily than did the parents. Caretakers of
American children could be casual and playful with their charges; yet the
caretaker role also allowed them to behave as adults in their relations
with American children, perhaps more so than with the American parents.20 Forest Ramsey, the son of an airman stationed in Okinawa between 1961 and 1963, remembered relations between the U.S. military
community and Okinawans as tense, yet said that he and his brothers
were very close with the familys housekeeper, Yoshiko. Ramsey described
the familys elderly gardener as polite but aloof, in contrast to Yoshiko, a
big sister to the three boys in our household and a pal to my mother.21
Though Americans often described relations between service children
and domestic employees as affectionate, they worried that they could accentuate power imbalances between the military and occupied or host
nations. Mothers and military literature expressed concerns that reliance
on domestic employees might spoil children. They feared not only the cultivation of bad habits in children, but also that spoiled children would undermine American intentions to project equality and democracy abroad.
In a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of hiring household help
overseas, Navy wife Cora Cheney noted that Since ours is a society
based on servantless houses, it is especially important that we not lose

206 Young Ambassadors

Bernadine Lees son and his Japanese caretaker.

sight of our democratic background. Cheney observed that some service

mothers preferred that their children shoulder their share of household
tasks as an exercise in discipline and efficiency rather than leave them for
servants.22 The Army pamphlet Information for Dependents warned parents that permitting servants to coddle children might result in spoiling
them: It is . . . important that your children retain their ability to look
after themselves, even if they have a maid. Undesirable habits they pick up
overseas, remember, will be yours to undo alone after you have returned
home.23 The image of children pampered by servants might also have uncomfortably connoted an imperialist-servant relationship that would have
impaired attempts to portray the Americans as allies rather than exploiters of host nationals.

Young Ambassadors


American Children and Cold War Objectives

Concerns about relations between service children and local peoples in
and outside of military communities were interwoven with the advancement of U.S. Cold War goals. During World War II, children had aided the
war effort by collecting scrap materials for defense industries, purchasing
and selling savings stamps and bonds, making blankets for soldiers, and
keeping an eye out for enemy aircraft. Subsequently, children were enlisted into the Cold War.24 Yet Cold War duties for service children abroad
did not entail outspoken condemnations of communism or denunciations
of the Soviet Union and other communist nations, but rather courteous
behavior toward citizens of occupied and host nations, and the projection
of a cooperative attitude. Many children, in particular teenagers, were
aware of Cold War international politics and some clearly considered
themselves representatives of their countrys proclaimed ideals of freedom
and democracy.25 Like military wives, the job of children was to help
make the armed forces seem less militaristic and more friendly by avoiding inconsiderate behavior and instead showing interest in and extending
good will toward the residents of nations housing U.S. bases.
In 1960, Eleanor Roosevelt articulated the presumed links between
childrens acquisition of foreign languages and American Cold War efforts
to promote international cooperation. In a speech to the Wives Club of
the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and a larger audience including spouses of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Roosevelt discussed competition
between the United States and the Soviet Union for international influence. She noted that Soviet youth began learning foreign languages from a
young age, and urged her audience to consider whether Americans were
doing all they could to compete with their communist rivals: Are we preparing our children to impart the ideas of democracy abroad? . . . Are we
teaching them languages so they can spread our way of life in the same
friendly way?26 Roosevelts speech conveyed the assumption that the
United States would win the Cold War not through military might alone,
but also by convincing other nations of Americans commitment to international cooperation and persuading them of the superiority of American
ideals and life over communism. Roosevelt, service mothers, educators,
and the armed forces believed that childrens ability to communicate with
host nationals in their languages served as a friendly way to achieve
these goals.
Service wives accounts about military life for children commonly depicted the experience of living in foreign countries as an opportunity for
cultural and social enrichment, as well as excellent preparation for their
future Cold War duties as citizens of the United States and the wider
208 Young Ambassadors

world. Marcia Matthews observed that in the New World in which we

have lived since 1945, characterized by the emergence of the United
States as a superpower, the onset of the Cold War, the entrenchment of
U.S. military bases worldwide, and advances in communications and
transportation, American children were more likely than ever before to
encounter foreign peoples: Instead of reading about French, Spanish or
Japanese attitudes they observe them first-hand and their eyes are widened
by the view.27 Military personnel and their families were stationed overseas for up to three years at a time and so were living in, rather than simply touring, foreign countries. Like military wives who were advised to
be a part of the country, children were encouraged to interact with nonAmericans outside of bases and experience living in host societies.28 Cold
War Americans believed that their nations future depended on the cultivation of young citizens who could effectively promote American ideals
abroad. Brigadier General James O. Guthries speech for the graduation
ceremony at Misawa High School in June 1958, in the aftermath of the
Soviet Unions launching of the worlds first artificial satellite the previous
fall, made explicit the militarys assumptions about the future role of service teenagers. Your most urgent problem is the preservation of our
American way of life, General Guthrie informed his audience of military
families. Americans believe in freedom, opportunity, and security for all,
and in a government that serves the people. Unless you can preserve these
ideals, all the miracle inventions of the future are worthless.29

Overseas Schools
Americans associated with the military believed that the formal education
of service children abroad could provide opportunities to learn about occupied and host nations, interact with local peoples, and foster good will
that strengthened alliances between the United States and the nations
housing its bases. Funding schools for American military children proved
challenging from the beginning, however. The War Department, reportedly responding to postwar public pressure to minimize military expenses,
declined to directly fund the first schools established overseas during the
19461947 academic year. Overseas military community planners, parents, and educators devised strategies to fund and staff schools for American children. In the European Theater, sales of wines and spirits generated profits for funding the schools, and parents paid tuition on a sliding
scale. The lowest three grades of enlisted personnel paid no tuition for
their children, the next four grades of enlisted personnel paid $36 per
child annually, and officers and civilians paid $72 per child. Spouses and
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adult daughters of military and civilian personnel, teachers recruited from

the United States, and occupied and host nation citizens staffed the American schools. As the number of family members overseas increased between the late 1940s and the early 1960s, so did enrollments and federal
funding for dependents schools. According to a Department of Defense
report, 160,000 children of Army, Air Force, and Navy personnel attended these schools in 1962.30
Early in the occupations of Japan and Germany, the idea developed
that American children were to receive an education in dependents
schools not only for their own benefit but also to help further occupation
goals. At the American School for Dependents in Tokyo, children were expected to aid in the democratization of Japan by demonstrating kindness
and tolerance toward Japanese teachers and student visitors who observed their classes. As in Japan, dependents schools in Germany also attempted to help achieve the occupation goal of democratizing the Germans. The decision to teach German to service children by 1947 reflected
the official shift away from the emphasis on viewing Germans as enemies.
According to an Army historical report, German language instruction and
study of German cultural and social problems were contributions that
educators and children made to the democratization of Germany. Presumably, educators and officials considered it an exercise in democracy for the
children of the victors to learn German and study German culture and society because it demonstrated the American intention to understand and
work alongside Germans rather than hold themselves apart from them
and treat them as a hopelessly corrupted and unredeemable people.31
Besides aiding specific occupation goals such as democratization and
convincing former enemies of American intentions to help them rebuild
their societies, the education of service children was intended to guide
them in projecting the desire for international cooperation by demonstrating understanding of local cultures and a willingness to participate in allied and occupied communities. According to a teacher at the American
school in Tokyo, the experience of military life equipped service children
with the skills necessary for adapting to foreign cultures: [T]he Army
child may be better adjusted [than civilian children] since he has learned
to get along in many different environments. He learns first-hand, from
the people around him, customs, habits, and ways of living radically different from his own. It is through this type of experience that the Army
child has learned world citizenship.32 Thus, overseas classrooms were
conceived of as arenas for learning to get along with not only fellow
American students but also other peoples of the world.
World citizenship entailed participation in allied and occupied communities, and educators and military officials assumed that learning for210 Young Ambassadors

This Life magazine cover from 1947 features children of

occupation personnel wearing traditional German leather
pants (Lederhosen). The bobby socks and saddle shoes were
fashionable attire for American teenage girls. Photo credit:
Walter Sanders/Stringer/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

eign languages would encourage childrens involvement outside the American community. Language education for service children arose from a
growing sense on the part of Americans since the late 1930s of the need
for their nations greater global involvement to prevent and solve international conflicts. Service childrens participation outside U.S. military communities was considered beneficial to current international relations and
to the future of the United States. An Army report on dependents schools
in Europe bespoke the assumption that service children should be a part
of occupied communities. According to the report, service children were
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to learn German not only to exemplify democracy, but also to make a

quicker and more adequate adjustment to life in the German community.
Children were to embody an internationalist attitude in allied countries as
well as occupied nations. Most overseas schools for dependents in allied
nations, including elementary schools, encouraged childrens ability to
communicate with residents of host communities by offering classes in
host nation languages, often taught by host nationals.33 Whereas most
public elementary schools in the United States provided no foreign language education, all Air Force children attending elementary and junior
high schools in Madrid spent thirty minutes a day learning Spanish grammar, conversation, and culture; high school students could study the language as an elective.34 In the mid-1960s, sixty-three percent of the students at Department of Defense high schools, the vast majority of which
were abroad and enrolled mainly students from military families, were
enrolled in foreign language classes, in contrast to twenty-two percent of
public high school students in the United States.35
Although most service children attended American schools for military
dependents, some enrolled in schools off base, either because there was
no U.S. school in the area, or because parents preferred their children to
attend host nation schools. The armed forces informed families arriving
in Europe in 1946, when schools for American children were not yet well
established, of the option of sending their children to Swiss boarding
schools, though at the steep cost of $270 to $1,275 per year. Mothers portrayed childrens attendance at non-American schools as helpful to military goals and international relations. A U.S. Lady article about American
children who attended Japanese parochial kindergartens described them
as miniature diplomats. The children received a Christian education
along with their Japanese classmates. Air Force Staff Sergeant Lewis Harris and his wife decided to send Nevelyn Harris, their ten-year-old daughter, to a Scottish elementary school rather than the school for American
children at the base. Three years among the Scots had altered Nevelyns
Georgia accent, giving it a trace of Scottish brogue. U.S. Lady reported
that Nevelyn Harris had won the Ayrshire school systems Robert Burns
competition for her recital of the poets Scots, Wha Hae in eighteenthcentury Scottish dialect, beating out tough native Scots contenders from
all the Ayrshire schools. A photograph that featured Nevelyn Harris
holding her prize, a leather-bound edition of the poets complete works,
and standing before a portrait of Burns captured the American ideal of
children as intercultural, international representatives, who despite differences in national origin and race, could become immersed in host nation
societies and demonstrate appreciation for host cultures.36
As of 1966, an estimated 9,600 American children from military fami212 Young Ambassadors

Nevelyn Harris in Scotland.

lies attended local schools, though they composed only about five percent
of all service children abroad.37 And at some stations, for instance, in
Turkey in the 1960s, no American children attended local schools.38
Service children regularly encountered local nationals in the American
schools, which employed citizens of occupied and host nations to fill faculty and staff positions to compensate for inadequate numbers of American personnel for these jobs and satisfy demands that the U.S. military
offer employment to host nation citizens. Citizens of occupied and host
nations worked in American schools as teachers, librarians, secretaries,
janitors, and cafeteria employees. When the 1952 1953 school year
began at Heidelberg American Elementary School, roughly one teacher
out of four was a German. The Army assessed the hiring of local nationals
as more economical than recruiting and paying for the travel expenses of
faculty from the United States. The French government negotiated with
the U.S. Army to ensure the hiring of French faculty and staff. The Army
complied, though it required French educators to speak fluent English.
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In the official view, occupied and host nation educators in Europe who
taught American students about the countries in which they were stationed served as the necessary link between the Americans and the German and French communities, familiarizing children with local songs,
dances, arts, crafts, and customs.39
American teachers worked with non-American educators on lessons to
develop students understanding of France and Germany, and sought to
establish friendly work relationships in informal gatherings with their colleagues. Wilma Ecker, who taught at American elementary schools in Okinawa, said that Okinawan teachers were frequent guests in her home.
Teachers from German and American schools met with one another and
inspected each others school buildings and educational styles. American
teachers at Molesworth Air Force base and British teachers from an English school in Peterborough observed one anothers teaching styles and
then exchanged teaching positions for two weeks.40
In addition to offering language instruction, educators tried to foster
cultural understanding by teaching students about the culture and customs of the nations in which they were living. Dependents schools in
Germany expanded language courses in 1947 to include the study of
German literature, history, geography, social studies, art, and music.
Teacher Gladys Zabilka compiled lessons to teach her students Japanese
history and Okinawan history, folklore, customs, crafts, and music. In
Japan, American elementary school children learned traditional songs and
dances, which Ed Dooley said his sisters performed, in Japanese dress, for
guests who visited the family. Florence Dmytryk, a fifth-grade teacher at
the Army Overseas Dependents School in Paris during the 19531954
school year, provided a detailed account of the lessons and activities she
and other teachers employed to help students better understand the
French people. Her students studied French culture, customs, history,
and geography. They read European literature (in English) for children; a
few advanced students read Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre
Dame. In addition, students learned music appreciation by singing European folk songs and discussing musicals they had attended (probably with
their parents). They compared American and French holidays, celebrated
the national holidays of France, studied the food habits of the French,
and prepared a multicourse French meal. In anticipation that students
would socialize with the French, they learned about their social mannerisms so that they would feel at home with their French friends. The
goal of promoting understanding for host nations in overseas schools
survived into the early 1960s, as evidenced in a report by a committee of
educators appointed by the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense,
Education Division, to evaluate overseas dependents schools, which rec214 Young Ambassadors

ommended that opportunities should be sought in all curricula to increase understanding of and appreciation of the host nation.41
To teach what she termed successful international living, Florence
Dmytryk incorporated into her curriculum activities that familiarized
children with off-base communities and facilitated their social relations
with local peoples. For the section on arithmetic, the children learned to
change francs into dollars and dollars into francs, convert metric into
English units and vice versa, and tell time in the European style (the
twenty-four-hour mode). To give students practice in using French money,
Dmytryk and a host national teacher took them on a Christmas shopping
trip in French department stores. Because her students often took excursions with their families, Dmytryk created exercises to improve their understanding of the places they visited. Children who missed classes to take
vacations with parents (a frequent occurrence) were expected to connect
their vacation activities with the goals of the class. Dmytryk required vacationing children to keep a journal, send postcards to the class, and research in the encyclopedia the places they visited. When Dmytryks class
received a postcard, the students researched the historical and cultural
sites visited by their classmate.42
To cultivate to the fullest childrens appreciation of host nations and to
demonstrate Americans interest in foreign countries, teachers took students on excursions into local communities. Sometimes the outings were
simple, such as taking the Army Overseas Dependents School children in
Paris out for recreation in the Bois de Boulogne on temperate days for
forty-five minutes after lunch. Students also took many field trips, which,
according to the job description for elementary school teachers at overseas schools, were among educators major duties. Fifth- and sixthgraders at the Army school in Paris took approximately two field trips a
month. High school students made excursions to nearby countries that
lasted for several days. The French encouraged cultural outings by allowing American children to enter museums and galleries without paying admission (a privilege also enjoyed by French children). On one field trip,
the students were given an opportunity to join the ranks of artists in
Paris and spent a happy hour painting on the Left Bank.43 Students from
Heidelberg American Elementary School visited a variety of German sites:
the zoo, the Geological Institute, a chicken hatchery, a newspaper printing
plant, an observatory at the university, a weather station, and a textile
mill.44 Teacher Marie Espinoza took her fourth-grade students at the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg School to see the bust of Nefertiti on exhibit at a
museum in Wiesbaden, Germany; brought a small group of students to
the Joan of Arc pageant in Orleans, France, where they waved at Premier
Georges Pompidou in the parade; and escorted her sixth-grade class to the
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home of the French author George Sand. Gerard Akkerhuis, a teacher for
schools at Air Force bases in North Africa and Europe in the late 1950s
and early 1960s, recalled study trips to Peterborough Cathedral in England and Leptis Magna Roman Ruins in Libya.45 Pupils at Army schools
in Europe joined local students for visits to historical landmarks, museums, and art galleries.46
On excursions, students identification of historical connections between the United States and host nations was intended to instill a sense of
the interdependence of . . . nations and encourage the youngsters to
maintain alliances through future international friendship and cooperation. Students who visited Versailles learned that our Benjamin Franklin
had also been there during the Revolutionary War to ask Louis XVI to aid
the Americans. Students also visited the room where the Treaty of Versailles was signed after World War I, and the hotel where General Dwight
Eisenhower made his headquarters during World War II.47 All these historical sites recalled U.S.-France alliances in wars that for Americans were
largely about the protection of their national values. Visits to these sites
perhaps imparted to children a sense of the historical significance of their
own presence in France, as family members of military personnel stationed in NATO countries during the early years of the Cold War.
To try to realize the ideal of international cooperation advocated in dependents schools, American and host nation educators created numerous
opportunities for students to interact with local children and adults. The
armed forces helped to coordinate school-community projects to bolster German-American and French-American relations. These projects included parties, dances, student and teacher exchanges, joint participation
in observances of American and host nation holidays, festivals, fairs, charitable activities, and excursions to historical and cultural sites, musical
activities, and athletic events. An Army report noted that in 1950 approximately 500 German teachers visited American dependents schools,
and estimated that between 1946 and 1956 contacts between American
and European teachers and students numbered well into the thousands. During the 19551956 school year, more than 100 foreign students paid tuition to attend Army dependents schools in Germany and
France.48 German and American students frequently attended classes at
one anothers schools, played together at recesses, gave presentations for
their visitors, and exchanged addresses. Bill Phillips remembered his
Heidelberg High School class visiting a Latin class at a nearby German
school. We were surprised to see that they were cheating on a test and
acting very much like us, he wrote. They seemed to enjoy our presence.49 In April 1953, students at the Bad Godesberg American School
presented a program, entirely in German, for sixty German student visi216 Young Ambassadors

tors from the Plittersdorf school. During World Friendship Week, students brought German friends to class with them.50
Service children, like their mothers, were pulled by divergent demands.
Although the children were to appreciate local cultures and customs
and respect host nationals, they also were to [uphold] American ideals
and project the superiority of American ways.51 According to Florence
Dmytryk, most aspects of the Army educational program were intended
to achieve successful, cooperative living among the people of France and
careful preservation of the childs American heritage and democratic viewpoints. American teachers conferred frequently with their French colleagues about American styles of conducting classes. Dmytryk thought
that French teaching styles were too strict and placed too much emphasis
on learning by rote, in contrast to what she considered the more relaxed American classroom atmosphere. The American teachers urged the
French faculty members to consider each student as an individual, invite
class participation, and use encouragement rather than the threat of failure or punishment to motivate students. American teachers regularly tried
to persuade the French teachers to assign less homework. Dmytryks determination that her students respect the French yet retain their American
identity, characterized by individuality and independence, manifested itself in her policy on students behavior on field trips. She did not want the
students to upset French onlookers they encountered on excursions, yet
she also believed that the children should behave as they normally would
in public in the United States. She said that she allowed her students to
question the guides, to walk along in groups or alone, and to carry on
soft discussions with their friends, in great contrast to the hushed
rows of French children encountered on outings. Although it was felt
that the French public might misinterpret the controlled freedom of the
American children as laxity on the part of the teacher, wrote Dmytryk,
it was also felt that our philosophies should not be sacrificed for the sake
of appearance.52
Educators believed that service parents own attitudes about relations
with occupied and host nationals could help or hinder good relations
between the military and local communities. Some service mothers supported American schools efforts to teach languages and establish good
rapport with local peoples. For instance, service parents in the Heidelberg
Parent-Teacher Association voted to accept a German language program
for the Heidelberg Elementary School for the 19531954 school year.
American mothers also worked in classrooms with German teachers. But
educators worried that parents who disliked living in foreign countries
discouraged their children from appreciating local cultures and ways of
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American teachers engagement in the kinds of activities believed to

foster good American-host nation relations attests to their own sense of
the importance of involvement in host communities, which they tried to
convey in their classrooms. Many American educators, often with their
families or other teachers, used the opportunity of living abroad to learn
about host cultures, travel extensively, and make numerous acquaintanceships and sometimes lasting friendships with non-Americans. Teacher
Wilma Ecker and her family exemplified American involvement in host
nations: Ecker studied Okinawan history because she found it extremely
interesting; her daughter took dance lessons from an Okinawan teacher;
the family went to every festival we heard of, and traveled all over the island and to every place we could reach; and the Eckers hosted Japanese
students and Okinawan teachers in their home. Another teacher, Marie
Espinoza, left New Mexico in 1954 to teach in Morocco. Over the next
decade she worked at several schools for American military children
around the world, teaching in Morocco (again), Germany, Japan, Saudi
Arabia, Italy, France, and Libya. In Japan she participated in doll festivals
and tea ceremonies upon the invitation of one of her students, Satomi Arrington, whose mother had worked as a secretary for Jean MacArthur,
wife of General Douglas MacArthur, when he was the Supreme Commander in Japan. Teachers frequently visited countries neighboring the nations
where they were stationed. While living in England and Libya, Gerard
Akkerhuiss family camped throughout Europe and at many sites in North

Perceived Benefits to American Children of Living Abroad

Expectations that service children contribute to international goals bolstered arguments put forth by those who defended the childrens numerous moves around the United States and the world. Cold War Americans
placed a premium on home life and family stability, and so those associated with the military felt pressured to justify childrens frequent relocations and interruptions in education and friendships. Defenders of military life for children celebrated it as a means for children to develop an
expansive worldview. The horizons for service children are wide and
wonderful, declared Army wife Nan Carroll, whose family had lived in
Korea and Germany. She argued that children gained a global outlook
and a practical sense of geography that enhanced their experiences of
childhood. Even her sons play reflected a sense of the wider world and international cooperation: the boys had acquired a collection of wooden
dolls from Korea and an electric train from Germany, and with blocks
218 Young Ambassadors

they built replicas of United Nations buildings. She insisted that her kindergartner gained a vast world of geography, history, and education, in
addition to self-assurance and the priceless experience of living, playing
and attending school with children who speak another language. Carroll
proudly declared that the childhood world of my sons lies far beyond a
picket fence. Air Force wife Marilyn Wright wrote a letter to the editors
of U.S. Lady expressing her appreciation for service life, which she credited for help[ing] me to grow, to look further than my nose and also for
benefiting her children: My children will be better adjusted, take more
interest in government and different countries. Liz Reeves, the daughter
of an Army colonel, wrote that service life offered education in lifes experiences, social graces and tolerance for my fellow men. Dr. Thomas
Staton, a child psychologist whose articles appeared in U.S. Lady magazine, named a liberal education in [a childs] knowledge of people,
places, and customs and the richness and variety of environments
as the benefits of service life for children.55 Advocates of children as unofficial ambassadors considered exposure to other ways of life a means to
acquire cosmopolitan sophistication that benefited the United States, as
well as the children themselves, and believed that children who were at
ease abroad could most effectively strengthen present and future Cold
War alliances.56
A short story titled Reorientation illustrates military families hopes
that living in a foreign country could prove an asset to teenagers, even
those who did not yet appreciate it, and also encourage young Americans
contributions to understanding between nations. After living in Tokyo
for three years, Patty and her family moved to a Midwestern American
town. Patty did not fit into the cliques at her new high school. Unlike her
younger brothers, Patty had not enjoyed life in Japan. But she discovers
that Im the only one in class that has actually been in a foreign country
and finds that her classmates are interested in what it was like to live in
Japan. As she describes Japanese culture to her new friends, displays pictures and souvenirs, and tells about her participation in a Japanese tea
ceremony, Patty becomes more lively and socially engaged with her peers.
Her mother, the narrator of the story, states that I was amazed at how
much culture she had absorbed in spite of herself. Patty creates an exhibit on Japan for her high schools United Nations Day fair, and wears
her kimono as part of the display. Her main competition is an exhibit by a
girl whose pilot father had brought her presents from his trips around the
world, but Pattys mother considers it just an assortment of souvenirs to
our seasoned eyes, unlike Pattys focused presentation on Japanese culture. Patty wins first place because her exhibit most clearly demonstrates
the kind of understanding between nations that the U.N. strives for. She
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is pleased by the prize, and by the attention of an attractive boy who now
considers her more sophisticated than any other girl he had known.57
Pattys absorption of Japanese culture is presented in this story as a phenomenon that occurred naturally and unconsciously, and did not manifest
itself until sometime after her return to the United States. Thus, the story
presents childreneven blas teenagersas natural liaisons between the
United States and other nations, and the experience of living abroad as the
crucible for creating new cosmopolitan Americansthe kind of citizens
needed for a country extensively engaged in international relations.
Although some educators, like service parents, worried that residing in
foreign countries might weaken childrens sense of American identity, living overseas was also regarded as an opportunity for Americans from diverse regions and backgrounds to come together under the aegis of the
military. Some children traveled so much that they did not remember living in the United States. In June 1953, twenty-six students finished the
eighth grade at the Army Overseas Dependents Schools in Paris. All had
attended at least six different schools on two continents; six had attended
twelve schools on three continents, and two had attended sixteen schools
on four continents. Some of the children had no familiarity with American
money because they had known only military scrip or French francs. Yet
educators, and the Army, judged that classrooms were not only venues for
teaching about the world outside the United States, but also for strengthening childrens knowledge of their own country. According to a 1958
Army report, schools for dependents created an environment in which
American children and teachers from different regions in the United States
became more familiar with one another: Both staff and student body
were composed of persons from all 48 states, and the territories, as well.
People from all walks of life, all races and creeds, and representing the
full range of sectional backgrounds and interests, met in the classrooms,
bringing with them the uniqueness that was theirs and taking away, certainly, a fuller knowledge and deeper understanding of the totality that
is the American people. This report thus extolled the overseas classroom
as a vehicle for reinforcing the solidarity of Americans from all states,
a unity believed essential for winning the Cold War. Ed Dooley recalled
that his classmates at the Air Force high school in Japan hailed from all
regions of the United States, although the students were not racially diverse.58
Besides reasoning that overseas life cultivated childrens understanding
of other nations, service wives deployed the argument that living abroad
strengthened rather than weakened childrens commitment to the United
States and appreciation of their country in relation to other nations. Cora
Cheney stated that Our job [as mothers] is to keep a perspective that
220 Young Ambassadors

helps us bring up good Americans. The service junior is going to profit

from the overseas tour in proportion to his involvement in the new culture
without losing his identity. She pointed out that living on a military base
would maintain childrens connections with the United States, but recommended that children who attended American schools interact with local
children through music, dance, or sports instruction. Cheney also suggested that children could attend host nation churches or join the Boy
Scouts or Girl Scouts to develop international understanding.59 Service
mothers maintained that living abroad helped children become adept at
noticing transnational exchanges (for instance, immigration) and promoted understanding of the United States, even its small neighborhoods,
in an international context. According to Ann Chase, her children associated the Neapolitan grocer in their grandmothers New York neighborhood with the people they met in Italy.60 This association implied a parallel between the Chase familys presence in Italy and the Neapolitans presence in the United States, conceiving of their residence in one anothers
country of origin as a natural, benign phenomenon. Yet likening the presence of a Neapolitan grocer in a New York immigrant neighborhood to
an American military familys presence in the country of a NATO ally obscured the fact that the Italian grocer and the service family lived in one
anothers countries under vastly different circumstances.

More than Childs Play

Although service mothers published accounts usually depicted non-Americans as friendly toward American children, the children did not in fact always win the affection of local people. A former military policeman stationed in Orleans in the late 1950s recalled that French people threw garbage at American children en route to school, and that the children picked
up the garbage and threw it back at them. The animosity of the French toward the American youngsters probably originated in opposition to U.S.
military bases in their country, and foreshadowed by nearly a decade President Charles de Gaulles 1966 demand for the removal of the bases. Ann
Chase, who for the most part portrayed her childrens encounters with
Italians as warm, acknowledged that some host nationals had exhibited
hostility toward her children. Her family, she said, had constructed a
battery of good will toward Italians that offset the occasional evidences of dislike that are inevitable, as when an Italian called her sixyear-old daughter a stupid American.61
Likewise, American service children were not necessarily interested in
making friends with non-Americans. In Bill Phillipss experience, it was
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unusual for American teenagers to befriend German teens in the early

1950s. He said he knew of no one who dated a German. Phillips remembered that Americans and Germans alike worried about how Boy Scouts
of both nationalities would get along in their first joint meetings. At a
Scout weekend campout, Americans, Germans, and displaced persons
(Phillips thought they were mostly Russians) initially regarded one another with suspicion, but then eventually joined together in song. Generally, though, Americans tended to stick with other Americans, according to Phillips. To step out of this peer group was still a very bold
[move]. Phillips thought that lingering anti-fraternization sentiment from
earlier in the occupation, as well as the American teenagers numerous social activitiesfootball games, dating, the promhindered friendships
with Germans.62 A sociological study of Americans living in a military
community in Ankara, Turkey, in the 1960s reported that American children and teenagers lacked interest in their host nation, and were hostile to
Turkish youth. The studys author attributed this to the language barrier, and to overprotective restraints that kept American youth from venturing outside the military community. The American teenagers also felt
that they were missing out on the high school activities enjoyed by their
peers in the United States, and thus strongly resented living in Turkey,
rather than seeing it as a unique opportunity to learn about their host nation. Evidently, the resentment was mutual: in 1966, American Air Police
had to ride American buses in one section of town, because Turkish juvenile gangs waited at the bus stops for the American children to get off so
that they could beat them with bicycle chains.63
Ed Dooley, who grew up in a military family during the 1940s and
1950s, considered living in Japan a positive experience, though not all his
peers felt the same. The Dooley family arrived in Japan in October 1957.
Ed Dooley, who had missed the first month of the tenth grade to make the
ocean voyage to Japan, enrolled as a sophomore at the Misawa Dependent School. To him, living in Japan was a happy and stimulating experience, even though his parents separated during the familys second year
there, and his mother returned to the states early with the children.
Though some of Dooleys friends enjoyed life in Misawa, other teenagers
did not: some yearned to return to the United States; others were vexed
that their families were stationed in Japan rather than Germany, Italy,
France, or England, where they believed the living was easier, the food
was safe to eat, and the culture was more familiar. Departing for the
United States early saddened Dooley, who had looked forward to spending the entire three-year tour of duty in Japan.64 Yet for many of his
American peers, their sense of racial and cultural otherness of the Japanese proved an obstacle to interacting with local people.
222 Young Ambassadors

Occupied or host nationals unfriendliness toward American children

possibly stemmed from resentment of the foreign military presence or an
individuals dislike of Americans in general; childrens misconduct no
doubt fueled existing antagonisms. Despite the efforts of parents, educators, and military officials to encourage childrens model behavior, children did not invariably act as ideal ambassadors. Former service childrens and educators recollections of childrens undesirable behavior
paint a more conflicted picture of young ambassadors than that offered
by service mothers in their published writings from the era. Some who recalled misconduct by members of the military community thought that for
the most part American children behaved well, and that their offenses
were overshadowed by servicemens crimesdrunkenness, robbery, rape,
and murder. Yet childrens bad behavior, like their good behavior, could
take on a larger significance in the context of military occupation, or, as in
the case of Okinawa, local nationals widespread resentment of the U.S.
military presence.
What might have been considered minor acts of mischief typical of
American children and teenagers in the United States could exacerbate already tense relations between the armed forces and occupied or host communities, and undermine the image of friendship and respect that Americans hoped to project. A former service teenager who lived in Germany
between 1946 and 1948 recalled only one incident of American childrens
bad behavior: two young children tied cigarette butts to threads, which
they yanked when German passersby who wanted to collect the leftover
tobacco (a precious commodity in postwar Europe) tried to pick them up.
Though the children probably did not fully comprehend the wider significance of their trick, it likely represented to Germans, as well as Americans
who hoped to improve German-American relations, a disgraceful display
of American insensitivity to those still trying to recover economically from
the war. The narrator of this anecdote says that he and his friend helped
to counter the negative impression of Americans generated by the youngsters: they chastised the children for their prank, and German onlookers
expressed appreciation for the teenagers intervention.65
Some misdeeds were more serious. Drinking and shoplifting were
among the most frequent bad behaviors. Bill Phillips said that in 1952
American Boy Scouts from West Berlin threw cherry bombs out of a train
window as they passed through East Germany. According to Phillips, the
incident caused consternation among high-level U.S. military officials in
the European Command, and resulted in the Scouts being questioned by
armed forces authorities and writing affidavits of explanation. Incidents
of what Forest Ramsey described as typically stupid juvenile American
behavior probably seemed especially troubling to local peoples who
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strongly opposed the foreign military presence. Ramsey remembered that

members of his high school track team, on the bus en route to practice,
sometimes sprayed Okinawan bicycle riders with a fire extinguisher. According to Ramsey, the American students usually missed their targets,
and he did not think that anyone was physically harmed. Yet this kind of
behavior likely reinforced Okinawans sense that the U.S. military held
them in low regard and victimized them.66
Young Americans attitudes of national superiority emerged in conflicts
they provoked involving national flags. At a Boy Scout Jamboree in Scotland in 1953, American Scouts offended German Scouts by raising the
Texas flag over the German flag. In Germany, two third-grade boys stirred
up trouble when they took down the German flag at the headquarters in
Frstenfeldbruck in 1959. U.S. military representatives, the school administrator, and the boys parents apologized profusely to the German community, and also required the boys to write letters of apology.67
The most infamous conflict over flags erupted in the Panama Canal
Zone in 1964. In 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower had ordered that
wherever the U.S. flag appeared in the Canal Zone, the Panamanian flag
must be raised alongside it as an acknowledgment of Panamas titular
sovereignty. The Canal Zone governor determined that neither flag
would fly at Balboa High School, where U.S. military and civilian teenagers were students. In early January 1964, a group of Balboa High
School teenagers violated the order for joint display of the flags by raising
the Stars and Stripes and also marching around the school with their nations flag. In response, Panamanian students carrying their national flag
confronted them at the school. In the ensuing riots, Panamanians attacked
U.S. properties and citizens in and outside the Canal Zone (although
other Panamanians helped to protect people from the United States).
Clashes between rioters and U.S. soldiers resulted in the deaths of four
American servicemen and at least thirteen Panamanians. American news
reports blamed the violence on anti-U.S. sentiment ignited by Fidel Castro, the communist leader of Cuba, although fundamentally it was Panamanian nationalists long-standing resentment of U.S. control of the zone
and Americans racism, and the U.S. teenagers provocations, that sparked
this clash.68 American children, whether third-graders or high school students, defied the internationalist teachings of military orientation programs and prescriptive literature, parents, and educators when they engaged in flag rivalry. These contests were so embarrassing, and potentially
volatile, because they exposed assumptions about the superiority of the
United States usually veiled in a rhetoric of friendly cultural and social

224 Young Ambassadors

Americans affiliated with the armed forces regarded service children as
natural internationalists whose supposed artlessness and openness to nonAmerican cultures and peoples promised to persuade residents of occupied and host nations of American good will and alliance, first in the occupations of Germany and Japan, then in the Cold War. Because children
wielded the least social power of all Americans, they were presumed to be
less intimidating to occupied and host nationals than servicemen and service wives. But children were also less amenable than adults to the disciplining of their actions. American military childrens presumed lack of
guile, which military officials, parents, and educators considered an asset
in foreign relations, also could prove a liability. Some young people, like
some adults, found it difficult to balance the ambassadorial ideal of respect for other peoples with the patriotic ideal of national superiority.
Less adept than adults at smoothing over ideological contradictions, children occasionally let fall the mask of international equality to reveal the
power imbalances which lurked below the surface. Like those of their
mothers and fathers, service childrens encounters with local peoples were
fraught with possibilities. Contacts with residents of occupied and host
nations contained the potential for improving American international relations but were always beset by difficulties and contradictions inherent in
American Cold War ideology.

Young Ambassadors



As a familys tour of duty drew to a close, the household prepared for the journey to the next station. On rare occasions, family members left for the United States before the sponsors tour of duty ended, for
instance, when a child finished high school and wished to return to the
United States to attend college, a medical condition necessitated the return
of a spouse, or a marriage ended in divorce.1 The U.S. military evacuated
families from foreign posts during international crises: the outbreak of the
Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the beginning of the Vietnam
War. On June 26, 1950, Dorothy House Vieman wrote to her family that
on the previous day North Korean airplanes strafed the U.S. military
housing compound where she lived outside Seoul, and that she and another wife and their two dogs waited with their houseboys in a trench dug
by the domestic servants for the orders to evacuate. The American wives
left almost everything behind, including furniture and pets. Vieman left
South Korea and its people with a heavy heart. This war isnt the North
Koreans against the South Koreans. This war is Communism against
Americanism, and the pitiful Koreans are pawns in a war which happened
to fall within their borders, she wrote, and defended the U.S. participation in it as a moral obligation to defend the South Korean people
against the attempted communist takeover.2 The week before the crisis
began over nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962, U.S. News and
World Report reported that although life appeared to go on as usual for
American military families at Guantanamo Bay, wives had packed suitcases and studied evacuation plans. On October 22, President Kennedy
informed the nation that he had ordered the evacuation of American families from the base.3
Early returns occurred infrequently, though, and most families remained at their posts for the duration of the sponsors assignment. As the
time to leave approached, they packed their household goods and souvenirs, made arrangements to ship pets to their next home, and said goodbye to their American friends as well as the local people whom they had
come to know. Marian Merritt described the weeks preceding her familys

voyage back to the United States as a mad scramble of sorting, packing,

farewell parties, immunizations, passport and visa arrangements, buying
of Okinawan things we thought we couldnt live without, and dashing
madly to see places we had heard about but never gotten around to visiting until the last minute.4
Impending departures aroused sadness, anticipation, or a mixture of
feelings in family members. The whole thing has been painful, wrote
Marian Merritt of her familys leave-taking, for we truly love Okinawa
and, while we love our homeland and know that we will quickly and happily adjust to life in America again, we still hated to leave. As the Merritts ship left port, Okinawan maids stood on the dock waving to their
former employers at the ships railing. According to Merritt, the Okinawan and American women cried openly. When David Klingers family left
Germany in 1947, they traveled across the ocean with many of Klingers
friends who were returning to the United States to attend college. Upon
arriving in Fort Hamilton, New York, the teenagers walked to the nearest
drug store soda fountain for banana splits, which signified to Klinger that
We were home at last.5
As part of their nations overseas military presence, American families
bolstered U.S. global power. To conceive of the postwar U.S. armed forces
around the world as embodied by soldiers, military vehicles, and weapons
while ignoring the families who helped to sustain them is to overlook a
crucial dimension of U.S. power. Government officials and military planners believed that allowing families to join servicemen abroad made foreign tours more tolerable to armed forces personnel, and aided recruitment and retention, although critics argued that the costs to taxpayers
and the alleged impediments to military operations caused by the presence
of families outweighed any benefits. But advocates of keeping families
abroadwhether military officials or family members themselves, particularly wivesregarded them as contributing more than moral support to
husbands and fathers. Families, in their view, could exercise international
influence and advance diplomatic aims by representing a nonmilitaristic
facet of the United States. Wives, children, and servicemen in their domestic roles as husbands and fathers could exert soft-power influence that
both complemented and tempered the United States hard-power martial
presence. Some family members took more initiative than others in striving to further their countrys foreign relation goals by making friends with
local peoples, learning about and showing respect for their histories, cultures, and customs, and displaying American ideals and ways. Even those
who doubted the diplomatic value of families abroad could not deny that
when Americans affiliated with the armed forces, including family members, offended occupied and host nation peoples, they risked undermining
Conclusion 227

local support for U.S. military bases and diplomatic objectives. For good
or ill, the presence of thousands of families abroad helped shape how
people around the world viewed U.S. Cold War policies and American
culture and society. Imagining families in military communities abroad as
living in hermetic little Americas or golden ghettoes denies the impact, whether positive or negative, of their presence in host countries.
Even supposedly self-contained military communities were not sealed off
from local peoples: American family members encountered host nationals
on and off base; gave impressions of American home life, gender relations,
and race relations, even in seemingly superficial contacts; used local resources; and ultimately functioned to maintain U.S. ascendancy abroad.
The study of military family members activities and writings expands
our understanding of early Cold War military history, foreign relations,
and the history of American families, women, children, gender roles, and
race relations in the two decades following the end of World War II. Ordinary women, children, and men were considered participants in the ideological war against the spread of communism, not only in the United
States but also internationally. In assuming the role of unofficial ambassadors for the United States, American military wives were multidimensional domestic, political, and international figures. Whether or not they
thought of themselves as young ambassadors, American children and
teenagers also played a role in the international story, in their attitudes,
their comportment, and their interactions with occupied and host nation
peoples. In their domestic roles, American servicemen such as Joseph
Boyle in Germany and Robert Merritt in Okinawa displayed a softer, less
militaristic side of American masculinity. Americans abroad also brought
with them racial attitudes, revealed in their interactions with fellow Americans and with occupied and host nation peoples. Assumptions about
commonalities among white peoples, as in West Germany, and the inferiority of Asians, as in Okinawa, shaped not only interpersonal but also international relations and, to Americans, helped to justify the presence of
their military.
The 1950s and early 1960s represented the heyday of the unofficial
ambassador ideal, which lost much of its symbolic potency during the
1960s. As U.S. military involvement in Vietnam escalated in early 1965,
National Security Council staff officer Chester Cooper noted in a secret
memorandum that the evacuation of U.S. dependents can signal determination or weakness, and thought that it would be better to withdraw
American families from the country because We have more use for MPs
[military policemen] than to ride school buses; the presence of so many
women and children is an inhibition, conscious or subconscious, on action.6 Thus, as the conflict between the communists and anti-commu228 Conclusion

nists intensified in Vietnam, the presence of American families came to be

seen more as an impediment than an asset to U.S. policymakers. Still,
President Johnsons advisers worried about the psychological impact
on the people of Saigon should the United States evacuate American families. The evacuation of dependents might sow seeds of panic in Saigon;
sending in more U.S. forces as American families left would help to reduce
but not eliminate the expected psychological damage to the South Vietnamese people.7 But President Johnson ultimately decided to order the
evacuation of families of U.S. military and civilian personnel from South
Vietnam in February 1965. According to Newsweek, many of the wives
and children departed reluctantly (including the teenage daughter of U.S.
commander General William Westmoreland), and Vietnamese nannies
sniffled into handkerchiefs as they watched them go. Hundreds of family members reentered the United States at Travis Air Base in northern
California, where the coffins of U.S. servicemen recently killed at a barracks in Pleiku by South Vietnamese communists lay in temporary storage. The United States launched Operation Rolling Thunder against
North Vietnam in mid-February, U.S. combat troops began arriving in
South Vietnam in March, and the Vietnam War went on for a decade.8
By the early 1960s, McCarthyism was well behind Americans and the
zealously anti-communist Cold War culture of the 1950s had begun to
give way to critiques of simplistic good-versus-evil depictions of the conflict between the communist and anti-communist worlds.9 Opposition to
the foreign policy and global military presence of the United States burgeoned during the Vietnam era, coming not only from international foes
but also from allies. Shigeharu Matsumoto, the founder of the International House of Japan, which hosted policymakers and scholars to foster
discussions on international issues, expressed deep concern in 1965 that
the use of Okinawa as a staging area for U.S. operations in Vietnam
would exacerbate the Japanese peoples resentment of U.S. bases in their
country. Other Asiansand not just leftists, according to writer Chanchal
Sarkarsaw the United States as a warmonger and associated the U.S.
military presence in their countries with violence against fellow Asians in
Vietnam. Asians also resented the bars and brothels that served American
soldiers and businessmen. West Germans, among the strongest of the
United States anti-communist allies, increasingly opposed the Vietnam
War between the late 1960s and early 1970s.10 Even citizens of the United
States, especially youth, no longer unquestioningly accepted the view of
their country as a righteous hero in the global battle for freedom. Although in general Americans associated with the armed forces (though
draftees less so than volunteer and career military personnel) continued to
support their countrys foreign policy and military stances, the internaConclusion 229

tional climate of opposition to U.S. dominance in world affairs rendered

the unofficial ambassador persona, purported to represent the altruistic
and friendly intentions of the United States, less credible.
More overtly expressed resentment from abroad coincided with the
entrenchment of military communities, a reduced number of family members in host nations overall, and an increase in U.S. armed forces personnel. By the mid-1960s, many overseas U.S. military communities had existed for two decades. The construction of more on-base housing for families, the decline of the dollar abroad, pressure on military personnel and
families to buy American products in order to reduce the outflow of gold,
and the growing hostility of local peoples toward Americans discouraged
contacts between Americans and residents of host nations.11 Between
1960 and 1970, as U.S. military involvement and expenditures in Vietnam
increased and U.S. foreign policy grew ever-more unpopular, the number
of service family members abroad worldwide declined from over 462,000
to approximately 318,000, a decrease of about thirty-one percent.12 A
smaller population of families abroad likely would have resulted in fewer
opportunities for informal interactions between military wives and children and residents of host nations. While the population of families contracted, the presence of armed forces personnel outside of the United
States climbed from 685,582 in 1960 to over one million in 1968, the
year that the number of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen in Vietnam
peaked.13 Thus, family members became less numerous as the hard-power
facet of the U.S. military became more prominent abroad, especially in
Moreover, the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s
affected many members of military families and how they viewed the
United States in relation to the rest of the world. Youth from military families were of a generation that challenged the nations international policies and actions. Many children of the 1950s who had been socialized to
oppose communism became the young adults of the 1960s who protested
what they considered abuses of U.S. power abroad. Some children who
had grown up with the military supported the Vietnam War while others
opposed it, even when doing so caused familial strife.14
Military wives, like their children, experienced social and cultural
transformations that altered their attitudes toward the U.S. military and
their conceptions of their role in it. While many military wives supported
the Vietnam War, some questioned U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, while
others opposed it outright. The resurgent feminist movement influenced
many women. In her study of wives of military personnel who served
in the Vietnam War, historian Elizabeth Brown finds that many in the
younger generation were more inclined than previous wives to work for
230 Conclusion

pay outside the home and pursue personal ambitions rather than perform
unpaid service to the military. According to Brown, these women recognized the gendered script for service spouses and did not accept it as part
of their identities as women.15 As was the case for women in the civilian
population, military wives increasingly entered the paid labor force in the
1970s.16 Paid employment outside the home would have reduced the time
that otherwise might have been spent on volunteer work and womens
club activities. Despite the substantial changes of the 1960s and 1970s,
however, contacts between Americans and local peoples never disappeared, and whether superficial or involved, one must not dismiss such
interactions as insignificant and unworthy of study.
Since the 1940s, those who advocated maintaining service families
abroad had defended their position against critics who bemoaned the expense to American taxpayers, the perceived dangers to American women
and children in foreign countries, and the alleged drag on military readiness. In 2004, well over a decade after the end of the Cold War and
the subsequent closure of numerous overseas bases, just over 200,000
spouses, children, and other relatives of servicemen and servicewomen
resided abroad.17 Each year between 1989 and 1993, the U.S. Congress
approved joint resolutions to designate a National Military Families
Recognition Day which stated the benefits to the armed forces, and the
nation as a whole, of maintaining military families abroad. Assumptions
that the emotional and mental readiness of the United States military
personnel around the world is tied to the well-being and satisfaction of
their families, and that military families have supported the role of the
United States as the military leader and protector of the Free World, had
influenced official decisions to continue maintaining families abroad in
the first decades of the Cold War.18 In August 2004, however, President
George W. Bush announced in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars
preliminary plans for a new global posture that would reduce the number of military personnel stationed abroad by up to 70,000, and family
members and civilian employees by approximately 100,000. Besides creating a more agile and flexible force, Bush said, the realignment would
result in savings to taxpayers, and also greater stability for military
families because service personnel would spend more time in the United
States and family members would move and change jobs less frequently.19
In promoting the new policy as beneficial to military families, the Bush
administration assumed that maintaining them in the United States was
preferable to life abroad, in contrast to early Cold War era military wives
arguments that living overseas enhanced their childrens upbringing and
also offered unparalleled opportunities for Americans as family members
to strengthen relations between the United States and the peoples of other
Conclusion 231

nations. Of course, government officials views of how to best conduct

military missions and promote readiness always prevailed over the preferences of families. Between the late 1940s and 1960s, when the Soviet
Union was the United States chief rival, military family members and officials could make a strong (if contested) case for sending hundreds of
thousands of family members abroad to join service personnel at strategic
locations to counter perceived communist threats from nation-states. But
to those making policy in the immediate aftermath of the September 11,
2001 terrorist attacks, having fewer families abroad was more advantageous to military readiness and the national interest than in earlier decades. The needs of military families now received more attention from
government officials (but still were not adequately addressed, according
to scholars and advocates of the families), although the idea of military
families as useful for diplomatic aims had declined from its mid-twentieth-century high point. The armed forces still, however, expected volunteer work from wives, even though more held jobs outside the home than
in earlier decades. A study of Army officers wives volunteerism found
that at Fort Stewart, Georgia, their unpaid labor for fiscal year 1997 was
valued at more than four million dollars.20
Did American military families in the first two decades of the Cold War
succeed in projecting good will and understanding, and in forging friendships with people of other nations? Those who made the effort generally
did succeed. Does it follow that American families helped persuade local
people to support the U.S. military presence and U.S. Cold War goals?
This is harder to demonstrate; it appears that while some local people
enjoyed interacting with American military family members, or took advantage of employment opportunities, they did not necessarily accept the
military bases that brought American families to their homeland, nor did
they uncritically accept U.S. foreign relations aims. Some residents of
countries that housed U.S. bases no doubt appreciated certain aspects
of American families presence: charity, employment in U.S. schools and
in American homes, income from shopping and family tourism, cultural
exchange, friendship. Others resented what they perceived as Americans
ostentation, insensitivity, immorality, or imperialism.21
The broadest generalization that can be made in response to these
questions is that reactions to the presence of American military families
overseas often were complex, and depended on local social, economic,
and political conditions, as well as the larger international context. For
example, West Germans tended to have a much more (though not always)
positive view of U.S. bases and military families than did Okinawans, for
a number of reasons. Germans and Americans found more cultural commonality than did Americans and Okinawans, and Americans were far
232 Conclusion

more likely to treat Okinawans as inferior others. West Germans proximity to Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe no doubt made them acutely
aware of the possibility of communist expansion, and therefore at least
somewhat appreciative of the U.S. military presence on guard to prevent
that. Okinawans, on the other hand, seemed less concerned about communist encroachment, and felt betrayed by mainland Japan and exploited
and maltreated by the U.S. government which looked upon Okinawa as
first and foremost a strategic Cold War island. Still, even Junko Isa, the
Okinawan woman we met in chapter 5 who opposed the U.S. military
presence, said that Its hard to be 100 percent for or against anything
here. Maybe thats difficult for outsiders to understand, but thats the reality in Okinawa.22
In our attentiveness to the complexity of responses to U.S. military
bases and families, we should neither unquestioningly accept American
accounts that portray relations with local peoples in an overwhelmingly
positive light; nor should we go to the other extreme and assume that all
residents of occupied and host nations resented and even despised the U.S.
military presence, including its American families. In any case, interpersonal encounters were always conditioned by geopolitical contexts which
created fundamental power imbalances between Americans and nonAmericans. Such encounters could bolster or mitigate U.S. dominance, but
could never exist apart from it.

Conclusion 233


another approach, the study of

women in international development, to more fully comprehend
global production and relations
1. Several examples include
and womens roles in these (121
Frank Costigliola, Unceasing
Pressure for Penetration: Gender, 123).
4. Joanne Meyerowitz, BePathology, and Emotion in
yond the Feminine Mystique: A
George Kennans Formation of
Reassessment of Postwar Mass
the Cold War, The Journal of
Culture, 19461958, in Not
American History 83 (March
June Cleaver: Women and Gen1997): 13091339; Robert D.
der in Postwar America, 1945
Dean, Imperial Brotherhood:
1960, ed. Joanne Meyerowitz
Gender and the Making of Cold
(Philadelphia: The University
War Foreign Policy (Amherst:
Press, 1994), 241.
University of Massachusetts
5. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Soft
Press, 2001); Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches, and Bases: Mak- Power: The Means to Success in
World Politics (New York: Publiing Feminist Sense of International Politics (Berkeley: Univer- cAffairs, 2004), 59; see also
Bound to Lead: The Changing
sity of California Press, 1989),
Nature of American Power (n.p.:
and Maneuvers: The InternaBasicBooks, 1990), and The
tional Politics of Militarizing
Womens Lives (Berkeley: Univer- Paradox of American Power:
Why the Worlds Only Supersity of California Press, 2000);
power Cant Go It Alone (OxKristin Hoganson, Fighting for
ford: Oxford University Press,
American Manhood: How Gen2002).
der Politics Provoked the Span6. Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War
ish-American and PhilippineCivil Rights: Race and the Image
American Wars (New Haven,
of American Democracy (PrinceConn.: Yale University Press,
ton, N.J.: Princeton University
1998); Andrew J. Rotter, Comrades at Odds: The United States Press, 2000); Yukiko Koshiro,
Trans-Pacific Racisms and the
and India, 19471964 (Ithaca,
U.S. Occupation of Japan (New
N.Y.: Cornell University Press,
York: Columbia University Press,
2000); and Molly M. Wood,
1999); Brenda Gayle Plummer,
Diplomatic Wives: The Politics
Brown Babies: Race, Gender,
of Domesticity and the Social
and Policy after World War II,
Game in the U.S. Foreign Serin Window on Freedom: Race,
vice, 19051941, Journal of
Womens History 17, no. 2 (Sum- Civil Rights, and Foreign Affairs,
19451988 (Chapel Hill: The
mer 2005): 142165.
2. Joan Wallach Scott, Gender University of North Carolina
and the Politics of History (New Press, 2003); Heide Fehrenbach,
York: Columbia University Press, Race after Hitler: Black Occupation Children in Postwar Ger1988), 2, 11, 32, 48.
many and America (Princeton,
3. Emily S. Rosenberg, GenN.J.: Princeton University Press,
der, The Journal of American
History (June 1990): 116, 118
7. Charlotte Wolf, Garrison
119. Rosenberg encourages still
notes to the

Community: A Study of an Overseas American Military Colony

(Westport, Conn.: Greenwood
Publishing Corporation, 1969).
8. Martha Gravois, Hot
Dogs, Apple Pie and Wiener
Schnitzel: Army Families in Germany (19461986) (M.A. thesis, Shippensburg University,
1986); and Military Families in
Germany, 19461986: Why
They Came and Why They Stay,
Parameters 16, no. 4 (Winter
1986): 58.
9. These include John Gimbel,
A German Community under
American Occupation: Marburg,
194552 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1961); Johannes Kleinschmidt, Do Not
Fraternize: die schwierigen Anfnge deutsch-amerikanischer
Freundschaft, 19441949 (Trier:
WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag,
1997); Dewey A. Browder, Americans in Post-World War II Germany: Teachers, Tinkers, Neighbors and Nuisances (Lewiston,
N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press,
1998); John Willoughby, Remaking the Conquering Heroes: The
Social and Geopolitical Impact of
the Post-War American Occupation of Germany (New York: Palgrave, 2001); Maria Hhn, GIs
and Fruleins: The GermanAmerican Encounter in 1950s
West Germany (Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina
Press, 2002); and John P.
Hawkins, Army of Hope, Army
of Alienation: Culture and Contradiction in the American Army
Communities of Cold War Germany (Westport, Conn.: Praeger,
10. Petra Goedde, GIs and
Germans: Culture, Gender, and
Foreign Relations, 19451949


(New Haven: Yale University

Press, 2003); Hhn, GIs and
11. Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families
in the Cold War Era, revised and
updated edition (n.p.: Basic
Books, 1988, 1999).
12. Anni P. Baker, American
Soldiers Overseas: The Global
Military Presence (Westport,
Conn.: Praeger, 2004), 5860.
13. Erving Goffman, The
Nature of Deference and Demeanor, American Anthropologist, n.s., 58, no. 3 (June 1956):
14. The following figures appeared in a discussion of Defense
Department policy proposed in
December 1960: the Army had
248,788 dependents overseas; the
Air Force had 197,438; and the
Navy had 37,837. Fred Lardner,
Capital Command Post, What
about Life without Father, U.S.
Lady, January 1961, 12.

7. Diggins, The Proud Decades, 23, 45; Hobsbawm, Age of

Extremes, 43, 51; John W.
Dower, War Without Mercy:
Race and Power in the Pacific
War (New York: Pantheon
Books, 1988), 295299.
8. John W. Dower, Embracing
Defeat: Japan in the Wake of
World War II (New York: W. W.
Norton, 1999), 4749.
9. Diggins, The Proud Decades, 61.
10. Edwin M. Martin, The Allied Occupation of Japan (New
York: American Book-Stratford
Press, 1948), 5; Harold Zink
(Former Chief Historian, US
High Commissioner for Germany), The United States in Germany, 19441955 (Princeton,
N.J.: D. Van Nostrand Co.,
1957), 6.
11. US Army, Office of the
Chief of Military History, American Military History, ed. Maurice
Matloff (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1969), 533535; Dower,
Embracing Defeat, 7380.
notes to chapter 1
12. Dower, Embracing Defeat,
1. Rose McClain to Charles
76, 529; John Gimbel, The
McClain, 14 August 1945, in
American Occupation of GerSince You Went Away: World
many: Politics and the Military,
War II Letters from American
19451949 (Stanford, Calif.:
Women on the Home Front, eds. Stanford University Press,
Judy Barrett Litoff & David C.
1968), 13.
Smith (New York: Oxford Uni13. Dower, Embracing Defeat,
versity Press, 1991), 272273.
21; US Army, Office of the Chief
2. Betty Maue to Ario Pacelli,
of Military History, American
15 August 1945, in Litoff &
Military History, 535.
Smith, Since You Went Away,
14. Dower, Embracing Defeat,
4858; Lucius D. Clay, Decision
3. Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, in Germany (Garden City, N.Y.:
Volume One: Year of Decisions
Doubleday & Co., 1950), 15
(Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday
16, 25, 100, 231235.
& Co., 1955), 509.
15. Zink, The United States in
4. John Patrick Diggins, The
Germany, 352353.
Proud Decades: America in War
16. Captain [name withheld],
and in Peace, 19411960 (New
660th FA Bn., letter, OccupaYork: W. W. Norton, 1989), 48,
tion Neurosis, The B Bag, Stars
51, 52; Eric Hobsbawm, The Age and Stripes, 20 November 1945,
of Extremes: A History of the
Germany ed., p. 2. This newspaWorld, 19141991 (New York:
per declared itself the Unofficial
Vintage Books, 1994), 24.
Paper of U.S. Armed Forces in
5. Ben J. Wattenberg, The Sta- the European Theater.
tistical History of the United
17. In 1949, an allied civilStates: From Colonial Times to
ianized High Commission govthe Present (New York: Basic
ernment, operating according to
Books, 1976), 1140, Series Y
an Occupation Statute (in
856903, Selected Characteris- place until 1952), replaced the
tics of the Armed Forces, by
military occupation government.
Although citizens of the newly
6. Wattenberg, Statistical His- created Federal Republic of Gertory, 1140, Series Y 856903.
many (West Germany) achieved

236 Notes to the Introduction

greater self-government over the

next few years, West Germany
did not achieve full sovereignty
until 1955. Frank A. Ninkovich,
Germany and the United States:
The Transformation of the German Question since 1945, updated edition (New York:
Twayne Publishers, 1995), 72,
92, 186, 188; also see Daniel J.
Nelson, A History of U.S. Military Forces in Germany (Boulder,
Colo.: Westview Press, 1987), 53.
18. State Dept. in Dark On
MArthur Plan to Cut Japan
Force, Stars and Stripes, 19 September 1945, Germany ed., pp.
1, 8; D. Clayton James, The
Years of MacArthur, Volume 3:
Triumph and Disaster, 1945
1964 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
1985), 1821.
19. If East Force Can Be Cut,
So May Army in ETO, According
to Truman, Stars and Stripes, 20
September 1945, Germany ed., p.
1; U.S. to Keep Enough Men
for Critical Commitments, Thats
All,, President Says, Stars and
Stripes, 21 September 1945, Germany ed., p. 5; Truman, Memoirs, 520; James, The Years of
MacArthur, 18.
20. William M. Tuttle, Jr.,
Daddys Gone to War: The
Second World War in the Lives
of Americas Children (New
York: Oxford University Press,
1993), 20; Elaine Tyler May,
Homeward Bound: American
Families in the Cold War Era, revised and updated edition (n.p.:
Basic Books, 1988, 1999), 33.
21. May, Homeward Bound,
22. Tuttle, Daddys Gone to
War, 18, 20, 21, 2526, 31;
May, Homeward Bound, 50.
23. Tuttle, Daddys Gone to
War, 2021, 31.
24. Thelma Thurston Gorham,
Negro Army Wives, The Crisis, January 1943, 21; Betty Sowers Alt and Bonnie Domrose
Stone, Campfollowing: A History
of the Military Wife (New York:
Praeger, 1991), 98103; Barbara
Klaw, Camp Followers: The
Story of a Soldiers Wife (New
York: Random House, 1944);
Betty Utley St. John, Excess Baggage: Letters of an Army Wife
(New York: Hastings House Publishers, 1943).

25. James R. Blaker, United

States Overseas Basing: An
Anatomy of the Dilemma (New
York: Praeger, 1990), 920, 29
34, 43.
26. Wattenberg, Statistical History, 1140, Series Y 856903.
27. John Morton Blum, V Was
for Victory: Politics and American Culture during World War II
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976), 102103, 200;
Felix M. Gentile, The Effects of
War upon the Family and Its
Members, Psychiatry 6 (1943):
3940; Tuttle, Daddys Gone to
War, 19; Doris Weatherford,
American Women and World
War II (New York: Facts on File,
1990), 277279.
28. Catherine Redmond,
Handbook for Army Wives &
Mothers, and for Daughters, Sisters, Sweethearts, Grandmothers
and All American Women Who
Have a Soldier away at War
(Washington, D.C.: Infantry
Journal/Penguin Books, 1944),
29. Charles P. Krick, Personal
Problems of Servicemen and Servicewomen and Dependents in
Marriage, Divorce and Their Allotments (Philadelphia: George T.
Bisel Co., 1943), 5053; Tuttle,
Daddys Gone to War, 70.
30. May, Homeward Bound,
31. Tuttle, Daddys Gone to
War, 71.
32. Redmond, Handbook for
Army Wives and Mothers, 81
85, 87, 88, 90.
33. Tuttle, Daddys Gone to
War, 6972; Hoover quoted in
Tuttle, 70; May, Homeward
Bound, 6465.
34. Blum, V Was for Victory,
35. May, Homeward Bound,
36. May, Homeward Bound,
59, 6566; Sherna Berger Gluck,
Rosie the Riveter Revisited:
Women, the War and Social
Change (New York: Meridian,
1988), 1617.
37. Truman, Memoirs, 506;
Louise [Mrs. Alf] Heiberg to
President Harry Truman, 12 November 1945, White House Central Files: Official File 190-N,
Truman Papers, Truman Library

38. Dependency Office Gets

Pleas for GI Releases, Stars and
Stripes, 26 September 1945, Germany ed., p. 5.
39. Idle, Single Men Will
Not Hurry to Join, Ladies, Stars
and Stripes, 13 November 1945,
Germany ed., p. 5.
40. Babies Yowls Quieted as
Dads Stay Home, Stars and
Stripes, 23 December 1945, Germany ed., p. 5. Also see Martha
Gravois, Military Families in
Germany, 19461986: Why
They Came and Why They Stay,
Parameters: Journal of the US
Army War College 16 (Winter
1986): 5767.
41. Captain R. Hope, letter,
Would-Be Pops Unite, The B
Bag, Stars and Stripes, 12 December 1945, Germany ed., p. 2.
42. Ike Cites Need for ETO
Army, Stars and Stripes, 15 November 1945, Germany ed., p. 5.
43. Dad Draft Halted;
100,000 EM Eligible for Jan. 1
Discharge on Points, Service,
Stars and Stripes, 21 December
1945, Germany ed., p. 1.
44. Release of Fathers, Stepping up of Draft Urged by June
30, Stars and Stripes, 26 January 1946, Germany ed., pp. 1, 8.
45. Wives Corner Ike in Capital, Demand Husbands Release, Stars and Stripes, 24 January 1946, Germany ed., p. 5.
46. Release of Fathers, Stars
and Stripes, 26 January 1946,
Germany ed., pp. 1, 8. The War
Department announced later that
it would not be possible to release all fathers by 1 July 1946,
and estimated that by that date
approximately 120,000 fathers
would continue to serve in the
Army. July 1 Releases of
Drafted Dads Rejected by WD,
Stars and Stripes, 9 February
1946, Germany ed., pp. 1, 8.
47. Dwight Eisenhower to
Mamie Eisenhower, 12 May
1945, Letters to Mamie, ed. John
S. D. Eisenhower (Garden City,
N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1978),
48. Dwight Eisenhower to
George Catlett Marshall, 4 June
1945, The Papers of Dwight
David Eisenhower, vol. 6, Occupation, 1945, eds. Alfred D.
Chandler, Jr., Louis Galambos,
Stephen E. Ambrose, et al. (Balti-

more: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), document

no. 126, 134135.
49. Mary L. Haynes, Why
Are Army Dependents Overseas? Staff Support Study, US
Army Center of Military History
(1988), 2; US Department of Defense, Dependents Overseas: Report to Congress (1988), 1.
50. Eisenhower to Marshall, 4
June 1945, Eisenhower Papers,
51. Eisenhower Papers, 135,
n. 1; D. Eisenhower to G. Marshall, 9 June 1945, Eisenhower
Papers, document no. 139, 150.
52. D. Eisenhower to M.
Eisenhower, 9 June 1945, Letters
to Mamie, 258259.
53. The following documents
are in Statements and Speeches,
vol. 3 (79th Congress, 1945
1946), Margaret Chase Smith Library: Margaret Chase Smith,
M.C., to Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War, 29 May 1945,
414; Transcript of WMAL
broadcast, Margaret Chase Smith
& Mrs. Dolores Morgan, 1 July
1945, The Washington Story,
433434; Transcript of WMAL
broadcast, Ruth Crane & Margaret Chase Smith, 5 July 1945,
451452 (here Smith mentions
that she initially asked Secretary
of War Stimson four months
ago [ca. March 1945] to consider sending wives and fiances
abroad after the war). See also
US Air Forces in Europe, Headquarters, Historical Division,
Problems of USAFE Dependents
19461951 (Wiesbaden, Germany, 1953), 1 (formerly classified as a secret report).
54. Clarence R. Comfort, Jr.,
Chaplain, Captain, AAF to Colonel Harry Vaugh[a]n, 1 August
1945, White House Central Files,
Official File 190-Y, Truman Papers, TL.
55. European Command
[EUCOM], Office of the Chief
Historian, Domestic Economy
(Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany,
1947), 23.
56. EUCOM, Office of the
Chief Historian, Domestic Economy, 2829.
57. Eisenhower Papers, 150,
n. 2; also see Harry H. Vaughan,
Brigadier General, U.S. Army, to
Captain Clarence R. Comfort, Jr.,

Notes to Chapter 1 237

1 September 1945, White House

Central Files: Official File 190-Y,
Truman Papers, TL.
58. USAFE, Headquarters,
Historical Division, Problems of
USAFE Dependents, 2.
59. United States Army Forces,
Pacific, General Headquarters,
Public Relations Office, Identity
of Condemned Soldier Revealed, 14 January 1946, and
Hicswas Mother Appeals to
Gen MacArthur for Clemency,
30 January 1946, RG 331,
Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers [SCAP], Allied Council for Japan, Public Information
Section, box 24, folder 1946
Court Martials, National
Archives College Park [NACP].
60. Cornelius DeForest to Julia
DeForest, 14 Dec 1945 & 31 Dec
1945, Cornelius DeForest Papers,
US Army Military History Institute Archives [USAMHI].
61. US Army, Office of the
Chief of Military History, American Military History, 530.
62. Truman, Memoirs, 509.
63. Oliver J. Frederiksen, The
American Military Occupation of
Germany, 19451953 (United
States Army, Europe, Headquarters, Historical Division, 1953),
64. Wattenberg, Statistical History, 1141, Series Y 904916,
Military Personnel on Active
Duty: 1789 to 1970; US Army,
Office of the Chief of Military
History, American Military History, 530.
65. D. Eisenhower to Geoffrey
Keyes, 24 October 1945, Eisenhower Papers, document no.
424, 475476.
66. Frederiksen, The American
Military Occupation of Germany, 4652, 99110, 185186.
67. Zink, The United States in
Germany, 116, 136, 138140;
US Army, European Command
[EUCOM], Historical Division,
Morale and Discipline in the European Command, 19451949
(Karlsruhe, Germany: 1951), i, 1,
36, 62 (formerly classified as a
secret document).
68. Franklin M. Davis, Jr.,
Come As a Conqueror: The
United States Armys Occupation
of Germany, 19451949 (New
York: The Macmillan Co., 1967),
114, 171.

238 Notes to Chapter 1

69. US Army, EUCOM, Historical Division, Morale and Discipline, 6; also see Petra Goedde,
GIs and Germans: Culture, Gender, and Foreign Relations,
19451949 (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 2003), 8485.
70. Arnold G. Fisch, Jr., Military Government in the Ryukyu
Islands, 19451950 (Washington, D.C.: US Army Center of
Military History, 1988), 82.
71. Okinawa Junk Heap,
Life, 19 Dec 1949, 23.
72. M. D. [Morton] Morris,
Okinawa: A Tiger by the Tail
(New York: Hawthorn Books,
1968), 60.
73. Postwar same-sex relations
between service personnel and
residents of foreign countries
surely existed, though I have
found no mention of this in the
primary sources used here. Allan
Berube discusses same-sex encounters between American servicemen overseas and locals during World War II in various cities
(Manila, Cairo, Algiers, Naples,
Paris, and London), in Coming
Out Under Fire: The History of
Gay Men and Women in World
War Two (New York: The Free
Press, 1990), 192.
74. US Army, 320th Hq. Intelligence Detachment Hqs. 9th Inf.
Div. Consolidated Intelligence
Report, 23 November 1945,
General Survey: General Attitude of Civilians toward US
Troops and Occupation Forces
(4 December 1945), 3, Miscellaneous Files, Germany-Occupation, USAMHI.
75. Zink, The United States in
Germany, 143.
76. US Army, Military Intelligence Report, Team No. 395,
Kreises Muehldorf & Altoetting,
21 November 1945, General
Survey, 5, USAMHI.
77. Goedde, GIs and Germans, 91.
78. US Army, EUCOM, Historical Division, Morale and Discipline, 7879.
79. Dower, Embracing Defeat,
80. Morris, Okinawa, 102.
81. Morris, Okinawa, 6061;
Dower, Embracing Defeat, 130;
US Army, EUCOM, Historical
Division, Morale and Discipline,
7678. According to Franklin

Davis, in July 1946 the [European] theater rate [of venereal

disease among US military personnel] was 191 per thousand
per year, and while vigorous
command efforts, the tracking
down of contacts, and improved
soldier orientation helped to reduce this rising trend, venereal
disease was a debilitating occupation problem, the incidence
among some outfits running over
one thousand per one thousand
men per year (Come as a Conqueror, 171).
82. Davis, Come as a Conqueror, 117; Goedde, GIs and
Germans, 94. Harold Zink
quotes a 1956 New York Times
article which gave the figure of
children left behind by American
soldiers as approximately
37,000, and notes that higher estimates existed. Zink, The United
States in Germany, 19441955,
83. Elizabeth Anne Hemphill,
The Least of These: Miki Sawada
and Her Children (New York:
John Weatherhill, 1980), 8089;
Helga Emde, An Occupation
Baby in Postwar Germany, in
Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out, eds.
May Opitz, Katharina Oguntoye,
and Dagmar Schultz (Amherst:
The University of Massachusetts
Press, 1992 [originally published
in German in 1986]), 101102.
Also see Heide Fehrenbach, Occupation Children in Postwar
Germany and America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 2005) on German and
American responses to Afro-German children.
84. War Babies of Japan,
Ebony, September 1951, 17.
85. EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 2; Clay, Decision in Germany, 71.
86. EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 2; US Air Forces in Europe,
Problems of USAFE Dependents,
87. Davis, Come as a Conqueror, 191; Frederiksen, The
American Military Occupation of
Germany, 111.
88. EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 12; Krick, Personal Problems of Servicemen and Servicewomen, 78. On the relationship
between families and the morale

of servicemen in Europe in later

years, see D. J. Hickman, United
States Army, Europe [USAEUR],
Headquarters, Operations Division, Historical Section, The
United States Army in Europe,
19531963 (1964): Since having dependents in Europe probably boosted the morale of married personnel more than anything, USAEUR sought to keep
family separations to a minimum (100); and The basic argument for bringing the wives
and children of US Army personnel to Europe, advanced shortly
after the end of WWII, was that
their presence would have a favorable impact upon troop morale (208).
89. EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 46.
90. Charles G. Heitzeberg,
War Department, Office of the
Chief of Staff, Memorandum for
General Vaughan, 21 November
1945, White House Central Files:
Official File 190-N, Truman Papers, TL.
91. US Army Forces, Pacific,
General Headquarters, subject
Movement of Dependents to
Japan, 10 February 1946, RG
331, SCAP Civil Historical Section, Administrative Division,
box 3277, NACP.
92. Shipment to ETO of GIs
Families to Start in April, Stars
and Stripes, 1 February 1946,
Germany ed., p. 1. News coverage of discussions and plans to
send families abroad had appeared in Stars and Stripes, Germany ed., well before the initiation of the application process.
See Ike Seeks Plan on GI
Wives, 2 October 1945, p. 1;
Wives to Japan? 15 November
1945, p. 8; Ike Favors Wives
Coming to ETO, 22 November
1945, p. 1; Some GI Wives May
See Japan, 25 December 1945,
p. 5.
93. War Department, Circular
No. 98, Overseas Movement of
Dependents, 30 March 1946,
RG 331, SCAP Civil Historical
Section, Administrative Division,
box 3277, NACP; EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 3234; Headquarters, US Forces European
Theater, Circular 17, Procedure
Given for Asking Transportation
of Dependents, Official Bulletin,

in Stars and Stripes, 9 February

1946, Germany ed., p. 2; R. B.
Marlin, War Department, Office
of the Chief of Staff, Memorandum for General Vaughan, 7
June 1946, White House Central
Files: Official File 190-Y, Truman
Papers, TL; Davis, Come as a
Conqueror, 190191; Elizabeth
Land & Carroll Glines, Jr., The
Complete Guide for the Servicemans Wife (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Co., 1956), 182. The 1
February 1946 article in Stars
and Stripes on sending families
overseas stated that only dependents of officers, the first three
grades of enlisted men and certain civilians will be eligible
(Shipment to ETO, p. 1). Over
the next few months, however,
policymakers discussed and altered the priority system so that
rank was not a direct factor. See
EUCOM, Domestic Economy,
2328, 3234; for an earlier discussion of rank and sending families abroad, see D. Eisenhower
to G. Marshall, 24 October
1945, Eisenhower Papers, document 423, 474475.
94. EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 2023, 3942, 6165;
Davis, Come as a Conqueror,
188189; and the following documents in RG 331, SCAP, Allied
Council for Japan, Public Information Section, box 24, folder
Dependents 1946, NACP: US
Army Forces, Pacific, General
Headquarters, Movement of
Dependents to Japan; and US
Army Forces, Pacific, General
Headquarters, Public Relations
Office, Work Begun on First
Housing Project for US Dependents, 21 March 1946.
95. Uniting Families
Abroad, US News & World Report, 15 February 1946, 24.
96. EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 3942; Davis, Come as a
Conqueror, 191193; and the
following documents in RG 331,
SCAP, Allied Council for Japan,
Public Information Section, box
24, folder Dependents 1946,
NACP: Department Stores to Be
Opened for GIs, Civilians, 9
April 1946; SCAP General Headquarters to Imperial Japanese
Government, memorandum, subject Housing Program for Occupation Forces and Their Depen-

dents, 6 March 1946; 200 Refrigerators Delivered at Yokohama from Philippines, 1 June
1946; Baby Foods to Be
Brought Here for Army Families, 17 June 1946.
97. US Army Forces, Pacific,
SCAP General Headquarters to
Applicants for Dependent Housing in Tokyo Area, memorandum, subject Information Regarding Movement of Dependents to the Tokyo Area, 6 April
1946, RG 331, SCAP Civil Historical Section, Administrative,
box 3277, NACP; EUCOM, Domestic Economy, 6971; US
Army Europe [USAEUR], Headquarters, Historical Division, The
Dependents School Program of
the US Army, Europe (1958), 4
5, RG 407, Adjutant Generals
Office, NACP.
98. Transportation Section,
Headquarters Military District of
Washington, What Is Your Destination? (Washington, D.C., ca.
1946); Movement of Dependents to Tokyo; US Army
Forces, Pacific, General Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Group, Memorandum No.
8, 3 July 1946, RG 331, SCAP
Economic and Scientific Section,
Industry Division, box 7306,
folder Movement of Dependents
and Dependent Housing, 1945
1950, NACP.
99. War Department Circular
No. 98; Transportation Section,
What Is Your Destination? 1,
100. Mrs. Cecil B. [Bernadine]
Lee, Army Wife in Japan, 12,
RG 331, SCAP, Allied Council
for Japan, Public Information
Section, box 24, folder Dependents 1946, NACP. A published
version of this document, with
photographs, appeared in Army
Information Digest, December
101. Neil Sheehan, A Bright
Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and
America in Vietnam (New York:
Vintage Books, 1988), 437; C.
DeForest to J. DeForest, 14 July
1946, DeForest Papers.
102. Davis, Come as a Conqueror, 193; EUCOM, Domestic
Economy, 7981.
103. The following documents
are in RG 331, SCAP, Allied
Council for Japan, Public Infor-

Notes to Chapter 1 239

mation Section, box 24, folder

Dependents 1946, NACP:
USS Charles Carroll Arrives at
Yokosuka with 22 Navy Dependents, 21 June 1946; Planes to
Welcome Oncoming Dependents
Far at Sea, 22 June 1946; 180
Families Reunited as USAT
Ainsworth Brings Dependents,
24 June 1946; Lee, Army Wife
in Japan, 23.
104. EUCOM, Domestic
Economy, 9294; Frederiksen,
The American Military Occupation of Germany, 166; Davis,
Come as a Conqueror, 194; US
Air Forces in Europe, Headquarters, Historical Division, Problems of USAFE Dependents, 39
43, 74; Mark W. Falzini, Letters
Home: The Story of an American
Military Family in Occupied Germany 19461949 (New York:
iUniverse, Inc., 2004), 910.
105. Lee, Army Wife in
Japan, 34; Sheehan, A Bright
Shining Lie, 437440.
106. U.S. Officers on Okinawa Make Own Huts out of
Packing Cases, US News &
World Report, 9 December 1949,
32; Okinawa Junk Heap, 19,
107. EUCOM, Domestic
Economy, 3942; Okinawa
Levittown on the Pacific, Time,
15 August 1955, 1820; Hickman, The United States Army in
Europe, 222; Zink, The United
States in Germany, 140143.
108. USAFE, Problems of
USAFE Dependents, 19461951,
145149; Frederiksen, The
American Military Occupation of
Germany, 166, 169; Supreme
Commander for the Allied Powers [SCAP] and Far East Command, General Headquarters, Selected Data on the Occupation of
Japan (n.p., 1950), 107; and the
following documents in RG 331,
SCAP, Allied Council for Japan,
Public Information Section, box
24, folder Dependents 1946,
NACP: SCAP General Headquarters to Imperial Japanese Government, memorandum, subject
Housing Program for Occupation Forces and Their Dependents, 6 March 1946; Chief
Engineer GHQ Announces
Progress of Housing Program,
19 June 1946; US Army Forces,
Pacific, General Headquarters,

240 Notes to Chapter 1

subj. Press ReleaseDependent

Housing, 2 August 1946;
Large Dependency Housing
Project Soon to Get First Occupants, 6 August 1946; USAFE,
Problems of USAFE Dependents,
157158; SCAP, Selected Data,
109. US Department of the Air
Force, Dependents Information
on the Philippines (Washington,
D.C.: US GPO, 1956), 5; US Department of the Air Force, Information on France for Air Force
Personnel and Their Families
(Washington, D.C.: [US GPO?],
1960), 6; US Department of the
Air Force, Dependents Information: United Kingdom (Washington, D.C.: [US GPO?], 1954), 3
4; US Department of the Air
Force, Dependents Information
on Spain (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1955), 2, 8.
110. US Bureau of the Census,
US Census of Population: 1960,
Selected Area Reports, Americans
Overseas (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1964), VII, table A; &
VIII, table B. For a detailed discussion of this figure, see chapter 2.
111. Vivienne Bodeau, G.I.
Economist On the Economy,
U.S. Lady, Early Summer 1957,
1011; US Civil Administration
of the Ryukyu Islands, The
Ryukyu Islands at a Glance
(1953), 16; Hickman, The United
States Army in Europe, 208
112. Florence Ridgely Johnson, Welcome Aboard: An Informal Guide for the Naval Officers
Wife, 6th ed. (Annapolis, Md.:
United States Naval Institute,
1964), 214.

3. USFET, Orientation Program, 18; EUCOM, Domestic

Economy, 8991.
4. George Gallup, The Gallup
Poll: Public Opinion 1935
1971, vol. 1, 19351948 (New
York: Random House, 1972),
184, 189.
5. Gallup, The Gallup Poll,
534, 562, 570.
6. Daniela Rossini, Isolationism and Internationalism in Perspective: Myths and Reality in
American Foreign Policy, in
From Theodore Roosevelt to
FDR: Internationalism and Isolationism in American Foreign Policy, ed. Daniela Rossini (Staffordshire, Eng.: Ryburn Publishing,
1995), 11, 13, 16.
7. Sigrid Arne, United Nations
Primer (New York: Farrar &
Rinehart, 1945), 131132.
8. Lucius D. Clay, Decision in
Germany (Garden City, N.Y.:
Doubleday & Co., 1950), 263.
9. John W. Dower, Embracing
Defeat: Japan in the Wake of
World War II (New York: W. W.
Norton, 1999), 9394, 529.
10. Marshalls Commencement Address at Harvard University, June 5, 1947, in The Cold
War: A History through Documents, eds. Edward H. Judge and
John W. Langdon (Upper Saddle
River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1999),
11. George Marshall and the
American Century, prod. by Daniel B. Polin and Kenneth Mandel,
Great Projects Film Co., in association with the South Carolina
Educational Television Network,
1994, videocassette.
12. M. J. Heale, American
Anticommunism: Combating the
Enemy Within, 18301970 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Uninotes to chapter 2
versity Press, 1990), 9, 61.
1. US Forces European Theater
13. United States Department
[USFET], Information and Eduof State, Foreign Relations of the
cation Service, Orientation ProUnited States: 1946, volume 6:
gram for Dependents (1946), 17; Eastern Europe; The Soviet
European Command [EUCOM], Union (Washington, D.C.: US
Office of the Chief Historian,
GPO, 1969), 708709.
Domestic Economy (Frankfurt14. John Lewis Gaddis, The
am-Main, Germany, 1947), 89
United States and the Origins of
the Cold War (New York: Co2. US Department of the Army, lumbia University Press, 1972),
Headquarters, I Corps, Depen284 (quoted), 308; Daniel Yerdents Housing Board, introduc- gin, Shattered Peace: The Origins
tion to A Guide for Dependents
of the Cold War and the Nain Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan: 1946).
tional Security State (Boston:

Houghton Mifflin Co., 1977),

15. Warren I. Cohen, America
in the Age of Soviet Power,
19451991, vol. 4 of The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993),
16. H. Schuyler Foster, Activism Replaces Isolationism: US
Public Attitudes, 19401975
(Washington, D.C.: Foxhall
Press, 1983), 4142, 48; Yergin,
Shattered Peace, 324.
17. The Treaty of Washington (North Atlantic Treaty),
April 4, 1949, in Judge and
Langdon, The Cold War, 4952.
18. Melvyn P. Leffler, The
Specter of Communism: The
United States and the Origins of
the Cold War, 19171953 (New
York: Hill and Wang, 1994), 85,
87, 92.
19. Walter LaFeber, America,
Russia, and the Cold War, 1945
2000, 9th ed. (Boston: McGraw
Hill, 2002), 98.
20. Cohen, America, 6366,
6878; John Lewis Gaddis, We
Now Know: Rethinking Cold
War History (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1997), 7174.
21. Yergin, Shattered Peace,
357358, 360.
22. Yergin, Shattered Peace,
400403, 407; Excerpts from
NSC-68 (Report to the President,
April 7, 1950), in Judge and
Langdon, The Cold War, 66, 68.
23. Yergin, Shattered Peace,
401, 408.
24. Ben J. Wattenberg, Military Personnel on Active Duty:
1789 to 1970, The Statistical
History of the United States:
From Colonial Times to the
Present (New York: Basic Books,
1976), 1141, Series Y 904916.
25. James R. Blaker, United
States Overseas Basing: An
Anatomy of the Dilemma (New
York: Praeger, 1990), 920, 29
34, 43; Melvyn P. Leffler, AHR
Forum: The American Conception of National Security and the
Beginnings of the Cold War,
19451948, American Historical Review 89 (April 1984): 372,
26. U.S. Bureau of the Census,
1960 Census of Population, Vol.
1, Characteristics of the Popula-

tion, Pt. 1, United States Summary (Washington, D.C.: US

GPO, 1961), 13, table 1; U.S.
Bureau of the Census, US Census
of Population: 1960, Selected
Area Reports, Americans Overseas (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1964), VIII, table B.
27. Our Military Forces Are
Far-Flung, Army Information
Digest, May 1949, 23.
28. Colonel R. G. Stanton,
Only the Finest, Army Information Digest, November 1947,
29. Petra Goedde, GIs and
Germans: Culture, Gender, and
Foreign Relations, 19451949
(New Haven: Yale University
Press, 2003), 5051.
30. Jacob L. Devers, Lieutenant General, Headquarters,
Sixth Army Group, Office of the
Commanding General, Special
Orders for German-American
Relations (Europe, 1945), no
page numbers.
31. [US Army], 12th Army
Group, Dont Be a Sucker in
Germany! ([France?]: Imprimerie
Nationale, 1945), 2.
32. Goedde, GIs and Germans, 7177.
33. Franklin M. Davis, Jr.,
Come as a Conqueror: The
United States Armys Occupation
of Germany, 19451949 (New
York: The Macmillan Co., 1967),
34. Goedde, GIs and Germans, 96.
35. Major T. P. Headen,
What Shall He Tell the Germans? Army Information Digest, July 1946, 1720.
36. Lieutenant Colonel Robert
C. Hall, Chief, Army Assistance
to GYA, Hq EUCOM, The
Armys Role in GYA, in The
Three Rs of Occupied Germany:
Rebuilding a Peaceful Industry,
Rehabilitating a Peaceful Economy, Re-educating a Defeated
Enemy (Washington, D.C.: Public Information Division, Department of the Army, 1948), 38.
General Lucius Clay is quoted in
this document.
37. Technician Fifth Grade
George E. Mayo, A Corporal in
Germany, Army Information
Digest, March 1947, 9.
38. Oliver J. Frederiksen, The
American Military Occupation of

Germany, 19451953 (US Army,

Europe, Headquarters, Historical
Division, 1953), 135136.
39. Georgia Lightfoot, Teaching German Youth to Take
Hold, Army Information Digest, April 1947, 25. The author
states that a newspaper notice
seeking ten American soldiers to
organize this club received 7,000
responses (24).
40. Captain William B. Koons,
A Soldier in Kyushu, Army Information Digest, October 1947,
16, 1819.
41. GIs Help Girls Make,
Collect, Scrounge Gifts,
Bremen Yanks to Play Santa,
Wiesbaden Wacs Plan Yule
Party, and 1945 French Santa
Claus Wears ODs, Stars and
Stripes, 23 December 1945, Germany ed., 3.
42. Frederiksen, American
Military Occupation of Germany, 135.
43. Suzanne Shea, Frohliche
Weihnachten, U.S. Lady, December 1955, 22.
44. US Civil Administration of
the Ryukyu Islands, Programs
and Statistics Section, The
Ryukyu Islands at a Glance
(1953), 63.
45. D. J. Hickman, US Army,
Europe, Headquarters, Operations Division, Historical Section,
The United States Army in Europe, 19531963 (1964), 215.
46. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Soft
Power: The Means to Success in
World Politics (New York: PublicAffairs, 2004), 59.
47. Office of the Secretary of
Defense, Armed Forces Information and Education Division, A
Pocket Guide to Korea (Washington, D.C.: US GPO, 1950),
3436; Office of the Secretary of
Defense, Armed Forces Information and Education Division, A
Pocket Guide to France (Washington, D.C.: US GPO, 1951),
3437, 49; Office of the Secretary of Defense, Armed Forces
Information and Education Division, A Pocket Guide to the Philippines (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1955), 6971; Office of
the Secretary of Defense, Armed
Forces Information and Education Division, A Pocket Guide to
Germany (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1951), 6364.

Notes to Chapter 2 241

48. Secretary of Defense,

Pocket Guide to Germany, 63
49. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to France, 44.
50. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to the Philippines,
20; Secretary of Defense, Pocket
Guide to France, 38.
51. U.S. Bureau of the Census,
1960, Americans Overseas, VIII,
table B.
52. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to France, 41.
53. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to Korea, 34.
54. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to the Philippines,
23, 70.
55. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to Korea, 3748;
Secretary of Defense, Pocket
Guide to France, 5264; Secretary of Defense, Pocket Guide to
the Philippines, 7475; Secretary
of Defense, Pocket Guide to Germany, 6671.
56. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to France, 1, 10
57. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to Korea, 2122.
58. Secretary of Defense,
Pocket Guide to the Philippines,
59. John Hersey, A Bell for
Adano (New York: Random
House, 1988), VIVII.
60. Vern Sneider, The Teahouse of the August Moon (New
York: G. P. Putnams Sons,
1951), 2526, 168. Army officer
M. D. Morris wrote that The
Teahouse of the August Moon
concerns American efforts to
impose Western ways on the simple village life of the Okinawans
at the end of World War II. Although the story appears to lampoon the MG [the US Military
Government of the Ryukyus]
specifically and the officer class in
general, it is reasonably well
based on fact. The author, Vern J.
Sneider, served with the Army in
MG on Okinawa during the
epoch of which he wrote. A
Tiger by the Tail (New York:
Hawthorn Books, 1968), 49.
61. Akira Iriye, Cultural Internationalism and World Order
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1997), 140
141; Christina Klein, Cold War

242 Notes to Chapter 2

Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 19451961

(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
62. Sneider, Teahouse, 66.
63. Iriye, Cultural Internationalism, 151152.
64. Michael Sherry, In the
Shadow of War: The United
States since the 1930s (New
Haven: Yale University Press,
1995), 125126, 499.
65. Captain Jack Lewis, Son
of 37 Fathers, U.S. Lady, May
1956, 1011, 5556. A blurb on
the first page declares that This
Reads Like Fiction, But It Really
Happened To A Spunky Korean
66. The Adopted Daughter of
the USS Capricornus, U.S.
Lady, October 1957, 18.
67. Global Whirl-A-Round,
U.S. Lady, July-August 1959, 37.
68. US News and World Report, however, ran a story that
focused on the social problems
resulting from mixed marriages.
According to this article, twentyfour states prohibited mixed
marriages between whites and
blacks and often also between
whites and Asians. When Negro
Servicemen Bring Home White
Brides, US News & World Report, 11 October 1957, 110
69. Lieutenant Irene S. Taylor,
Army Wives Afloat, Army Information Digest, May 1947, 15.
70. Goedde, GIs and Germans, 101.
71. The Truth about Japanese
War Brides, Ebony, March
1952, 1720, 2325.
72. Private First-Class Gilbert
G. Tauber, In Fair Verona, U.S.
Lady, February 1958, 1011.
73. Ted Kurashige, Wanted:
A Japanese Wife, U.S. Lady,
October 1961, 8.
74. Brenda Gayle Plummer,
Brown Babies: Race, Gender,
and Policy after World War II,
in Window on Freedom: Race,
Civil Rights, and Foreign Affairs,
19451988, ed. Brenda Gayle
Plummer (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press,
2003), 68, 75.
75. Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families
in the Cold War Era, rev. ed.
(n.p.: Basic Books, 1988, 1999),

ixxiv, xviii, xxxxii, xxiii,

xxivxxv, 1718.
76. Joanne Meyerowitz, Beyond the Feminine Mystique: A
Reassessment of Postwar Mass
Culture, 19461958, in Not
June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945
1960, ed. Joanne Meyerowitz
(Philadelphia: The University
Press, 1994), 230231, 232,
77. Betty Sowers Alt and Bonnie Domrose Stone, Campfollowing: A History of the Military Wife (New York: Praeger,
78. Sondra Albano, Military
Recognition of Family Concerns:
Revolutionary War to 1993,
Armed Forces & Society 20
(Winter 1994): 287; Eric K. Shinseki, United States Army, Chief of
Staff, The Army Family: A White
Paper ([Washington, D.C.?],
2003), 13.
79. Shauna Whitworth, Historical Antecedents and Philosophical Foundations of Army
Family Policy (unpublished research paper, Military Family Resource Center Research Department, Springfield, Virginia,
1983), 9.
80. US Department of Defense,
Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical
Analysis Division, Estimated
Dependents and Marital Status of
Active Duty Military Personnel
WorldwideAs of 31 July
81. Alvadee Adams and John
Adams, The Editorial We, U.S.
Lady, November-December
1956, 4.
82. US Department of Defense,
Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, Statistical
Analysis Division, Active Duty
Military Personnel and Their Dependents WorldwideAs of 30
September 1961.
83. See Albano, Military Recognition, 289; and US Army,
The Chief of Staff, The Army
Family, White Paper, 1983.
84. Cynthia Enloe, Does
Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Womens Lives (Boston: South End Press, 1983), 48.
85. Cynthia Enloe, Maneuvers:
The International Politics of Militarizing Womens Lives (Berke-

ley: University of California

Press, 2000), 3538.
86. Shinseki, The Army Family, 1; Enloe, Maneuvers, 37.
87. Admiral Arleigh Burke,
The Navy Pitch: The Wife Anchors the Navy, U.S. Lady, December 1955, 8.
88. Adams and Adams, The
Editorial We, 4.
89. General Maxwell D. Taylor, The Army Wife, U.S. Lady,
Mid-Summer 1956, 2.
90. General Nathan F. Twining, Twentieth Century Pioneers, U.S. Lady, April 1956,
91. Enloe, Maneuvers, 37.
92. US Air Force, advertisement, Dear Lady: The family is
the real heart of the U.S. Air
Force, U.S. Lady, April 1956, 3.
93. US Air Force, advertisement, Dear Lady: Mainstay of
our freedom, U.S. Lady, July
1958, 5.
94. US Air Force, advertisement, Dear LadyThe Faith of
your choice, U.S. Lady, December 1958, 3.
95. USFET, Orientation Program, 18.
96. Clay, Decision in Germany, 7172.
97. Department of the Army,
introduction to A Guide for Dependents in Kyoto.
98. Arnold G. Fisch, Jr., Military Government in the Ryukyu
Islands (Washington, D.C.: US
Army Center of Military History,
1988), 5.
99. Dower, Embracing Defeat,
100. US Army, Public Relations Office, Bad Nauheim: A
Guide for Dependents (Bad
Nauheim, Germany: Headquarters, Continental Base Section,
1947), 48.
101. For a discussion of military-sponsored activities for German youth and the 1946 creation
of the German Youth Activities
program, see Frederiksen, American Military Occupation of Germany, 134135.
102. Jean Edward Smith, ed.,
Document 349, Evacuation of
Dependents, 17 March 1948,
Telecon TT-9218, in The Papers
of General Lucius D. Clay: Germany, 19451949 (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1974),

vol. 2, book 4 (1948): 579581.

Clay recounts these communications in Decision in Germany,
but gives the date of this teleconference as March 30, 1948 (358);
Frederiksen, American Military
Occupation of Germany, 196
103. Taylor, Army Wife, 2.
104. Lt. Col. Walter A. Luszki,
As Others See Us, U.S. Lady,
January 1959, 19, 44.
105. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Population: 1960
Volume I, Characteristics of the
Population, Part A, Number of
Inhabitants, 13, table 1; U.S.
Bureau of the Census, 1960,
Americans Overseas, VII, table
A; and VIII, table B.
106. US Department of the Air
Force, Dependents Information:
United Kingdom (Washington,
D.C.: [US GPO?], 1954), 34;
US Department of the Air Force,
Dependents Information on the
Philippines (Washington, D.C.:
US GPO, 1956), 3, 5; US Department of the Air Force, Information on France for Air Force Personnel and Their Families (Washington, D.C.: [US GPO?], 1960),
45; US Department of the
Army, Information for Dependents Traveling to Overseas
Areas (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1959), 35.
107. Department of the Army,
Information for Dependents, 35.
108. Department of the Air
Force, United Kingdom, 25;
Department of the Air Force,
France, 45.
109. Department of the Air
Force, United Kingdom, 4.
110. Department of the Army,
Information for Dependents, 35
36, 41, 43.
111. Department of the Air
Force, United Kingdom, 5; Department of the Army, Information for Dependents, 41.
112. Department of the Air
Force, United Kingdom, 3, 4, 11;
Department of the Air Force,
France, 5; Department of the
Army, Information for Dependents, 41.
113. Department of the Air
Force, United Kingdom, 3, 9.
114. Department of the Air
Force, Philippines, 8.
115. US Department of the Air
Force, Dependents Information

on Spain (Washington, D.C.: US

GPO, 1955), 78.
116. Department of the Air
Force, France, 56, 1011.
117. Department of the Air
Force, United Kingdom, 4.
118. Department of the Air
Force, Philippines, 11; Department of the Air Force, Spain, 11;
Department of the Air Force,
France, 5.
119. Department of the Army,
Information for Dependents, 37
38, 40.
120. Department of the Air
Force, United Kingdom, 45.
121. John F. Kasson, Rudeness
and Civility: Manners in Nineteenth-Century Urban America
(New York: Hill and Wang,
1990), 3.
notes to chapter 3
1. Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman,
All You Need Is Love: The Peace
Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1998), 4041.
2. Hoffman, All You Need Is
Love, 24.
3. Alvadee Adams and John
Adams, The Editorial We, A
Fresh Breeze Along the Potomac, U.S. Lady, February
1961, 4.
4. Mrs. Bob M. Pennington,
Mail Call, Dependents Vital
Ambassadors, U.S. Lady, October 1961, 50; Marie F. Nasch,
Mail Call, A Peace Corps by
Any other Name, U.S. Lady,
July-August 1961, 1.
5. Hoffman, All You Need Is
Love, 5.
6. Mrs. Bob M. Pennington,
Mail Call, Wives in the Peace
Corps, U.S. Lady, October
1961, 50. It looks like the editors
mistakenly cited Mrs. Bob M.
Pennington as the author of two
different letters that appear in
this issues U.S. Lady Mail Call.
For one Mrs. Pennington, Renton, Washington is the location
given; for the other, Riverside,
7. Routh Trowbridge Wilby,
Mail Call, Dependents, We
Have a Challenge, U.S. Lady,
December 1959, 5.
8. Hoffman, All You Need Is
Love, 17.
9. Major General Jeanne

Notes to Chapter 3 243

Holm, USAF (Retired), Women

in the Military: An Unfinished
Revolution (Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1982), 100, 162
163, 289304.
10. U.S. Bureau of the Census,
U.S. Census of Population: 1960,
Selected Area Reports, Americans
Overseas (Washington, D.C.: US
GPO, 1964), Table B, p. XIII.
11. U.S. Bureau of the Census,
1960, Americans Overseas, Table
B, p. XIII.
12. U.S. Bureau of the Census,
1960, Americans Overseas, Table
9, p. 51.
13. Department of the Army,
Total Army Command Negro
Strength, by Command and Type
of Personnel, 16, and Army
Command StrengthCurrent
Month (30 November 1955), 9;
Brenda Gayle Plummer, Rising
Wind: Black Americans and U.S.
Foreign Affairs, 19351960
(Chapel Hill: The University of
North Carolina Press, 1996),
14. Morris J. MacGregor, Jr.,
Integration of the Armed Forces,
19401965 (Washington, D.C.:
Center of Military History,
United States Army, 1981), 568,
Table 24, Black Percentages,
19621968. While the percentage of African-American enlisted
personnel in the Army roughly
corresponded to, or exceeded, the
percentage of African Americans
in the general American population (about eleven percent), black
enlisted personnel, like officers,
were underrepresented in the
other services into the 1960s although their percentages increased overall between 1949
and 1962. In July 1949, black
men and women accounted for
4.7 percent of Navy, 5.1 percent
of Air Force, and 2.1 percent of
Marine Corps enlisted members;
in 1956, for 6.3 percent of Navy,
10.4 percent of Air Force, and
6.5 percent of Marine enlisted
members; and in 1962, for 5.2
percent of Navy, 7.6 percent of
Marine Corps, and 9.2 percent of
Air Force enlisted members.
MacGregor, Integration of the
Armed Forces, 395, Table 3,
Percentage of Black Men and
Women, and 568, Table 24.
15. MacGregor, Integration of
the Armed Forces, 385389.

244 Notes to Chapter 3

16. War Department, Circular

No. 98, Overseas Movement of
Dependents, 30 March 1946,
RG 331, SCAP Civil Historical
Section, Administrative Division,
box 3277, NACP; Departments
of the Army and Air Force, Finance and Fiscal Reimbursement
for Transportation of Dependents, Army Regulations No.
354880, Air Force Regulation
No. 1737 (December 1948), I1, I-12; US Air Forces in Europe,
Dependent Travel Guide (1955),
12, 33; Elizabeth Land and Lt.
Col. Carroll V. Glines Jr., The
Complete Guide for the Servicemans Wife (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Co., 1956), 182; John
Whiteclay Chambers II, To Raise
an Army: The Draft Comes to
Modern America (New York:
The Free Press, 1987), 256, 273;
Vivienne Bodeau, G.I. Economist On the Economy, U.S.
Lady, Early Summer 1957, 11;
Charles C. Moskos, Jr., The
American Enlisted Man: The
Rank and File in Todays Military
(New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1970), 3839, and 188
189, Appendix 1, Military Pay
Grades and Rank Titles;
Maxwell M. Rabb to Beverly S.
Lindenbaum, 4 February 1955,
White House Central Files
[WHCF], General Files 11-H-8,
box 231, folder Dependents of
Members of the Armed Forces,
Eisenhower Library [EL];
Stephen Ailes, Under Secretary of
the Army, to the Secretary of Defense, memorandum, 1 September 1961, subj. Facts for Use in
Replying to Senator Robertsons
Letter re Dependents Travel
Overseas, Miscellaneous Files,
US Army Military History Institute [USAMHI].
17. Fred Lardner, Capital
Command Post, What about
Life without Father? U.S. Lady,
January 1961, 13.
18. Nancy Shea, Service Etiquette, U.S. Lady, November
December 1956, 43.
19. U.S. Bureau of the Census,
1960, Americans Overseas, Table
10, p. 58. Of the 165,043 female
dependents ages eighteen and
over, the employment status of
101,981 of them was reported;
the employment status of the remaining 63,062 went unreported.

Of those reported, 95,097 were

not employed in 1960; 6884
were employed. Of the women
listed as unemployed in 1960,
67,927 had worked at some
point since 1950; 8605 of these
did not report their last occupation.
20. Lt. Ervan E. Zouzalik to
the President, 6 March 1961,
WHCF SF, Box 243, Folder FO
41 Balance of Payments 41-61
to 103161, John F. Kennedy
Library [JFKL].
21. Shea, Service Etiquette,
43; Ellwyn R. Stoddard and
Claude E. Cabanillas, The Army
Officers Wife: Social Stresses in a
Complementary Role, in The
Social Psychology of Military
Service, eds. Nancy L. Goldman
and David R. Segal (Beverly
Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications,
1976), 157158.
22. Neil Sheehan, A Bright
Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and
America in Vietnam (New York:
Vintage Books, 1988), 438439;
Betty Sowers Alt and Bonnie
Domrose Stone, Campfollowing:
A History of the Military Wife
(New York: Praeger, 1991), 114.
23. Margaret C. Harrell,
Army Officers Spouses: Have
the White Gloves Been Mothballed? Armed Forces and Society 28, no. 1 (Fall 2001): 56.
24. Ruth Victor, Military
Men Make Miserable Husbands, U.S. Lady, Spring 1958,
25. Cynthia Enloe, Does
Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Womens Lives (Boston: South End Press, 1983), 73;
Roger W. Little, The Military
Family, in Handbook of Military Institutions, ed. Roger W.
Little (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage
Publications, 1971), 253254;
Elizabeth M. Finlayson, A Study
of the Wife of the Army Officer:
Her Academic and Career Preparations, Her Current Employment and Volunteer Services, in
Families in the Military System,
eds. Hamilton I. McCubbin, Barbara B. Dahl, and Edna J. Hunter
(Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1976), 2223; Heather
Shanklin, Army Wives Speak
Out: A Feminist Oral History,
senior thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1981 (analysis

and transcripts of tape-recorded

interviews conducted with Loren
E. Ruth, Jane P. Jewett, Marjorie
D. McKiernon, Josephine D.
Doolittle, and Catherine E. Peyton in 1980), 33, 3435, 36, 40,
84, 94, 142, 146, Bancroft Library.
26. Points Concerning Navys
New Fitness Report (The OfficerWife Team Requirement),
WHCF, Subject File, Box 600,
Folder ND 9 Military Personnel
21-63, JFKL; Harrell, Army
Officers Spouses, 5556;
Doreen M. Lehr, Do Real
Women Wear Uniforms? Invisibility and the Consequences for
the U.S. Military Wife, Minerva
14, Iss. 3 (December 1996), online via Proquest <http://proquest
.umi.com/> (15 June 2005).
27. Nancy Shea, Service Etiquette, U.S. Lady, September
1955, 52 (bold in original); Lee
Lorick Prina, What It Takes to
Be a Commanding Officers
Wife, U.S. Lady, October 1957,
15, 44; Susie-Lane Hoyle Armstrong, A Word to the Wives,
Army Information Digest, June
1948, 2930; Betty Weeks,
Theres No Rank Among
Wives, U.S. Lady, February
1964, 89.
28. Land and Glines, The
Complete Guide for the Servicemans Wife, 298299; US Army,
Eighth Army, Headquarters,
Yokohama, Dependents Guide to
Japan (Boonjudo, Japan: Eighth
Army Printing Plant, rev. 1949),
29. Nancy Shea, The Army
Wife, rev. ed. (New York: Harper
and Brothers, 1942). In her subsequent advice books for wives in
all of the services, Shea incorporated brief guidelines on conduct
with residents of occupied and
host countries, but this was not
as extensive as other womens advice that appeared in U.S. Lady.
See Anne Etheldra Briscoe Pye
and Nancy Shea, The Navy Wife
(New York: Harper, 1949, and
3rd rev. ed. 1955); Shea, The Air
Force Wife (New York: Harper,
1st ed. 1951, rev. ed. 1956);
Shea, The Army Wife: What She
Ought to Know about the Customs of the Service and the Management of an Army Household
(New York: Harper and Broth-

ers, 1954); Sally Jerome and

Nancy Brinton Shea, The Marine
Corps Wife (New York: Harper
and Row, 1955).
30. U.S. Bureau of the Census,
Census of Population: 1960, Volume 1, Characteristics of the
Population, Part A, Number of
Inhabitants (Washington, D.C.:
US GPO, 1961), 13, Table 1.
31. Dor