Women in Service: WWII

World War II was the first time women were permitted to serve in roles other than nursing in the US Armed Forces. Women in Service exhibits the story of seven Pennsylvanian’s that served, respectively, in the US Army Nurse Corps, Women’s Army Corps, US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, and US Navy Women Accepts for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). The story of each woman is told through keystone panels, personal effects, and awards earned during service. As part of the ongoing 75th Anniversary of WWII, these artifacts will be on exhibit for approximately six months. A unique glimpse into wartime women’s serve, you do not want to miss this!


“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.”

With those words Gen. Eisenhower punctuated the magnitude of the occasion… great and brave men would go forth in hopes of further dismantling the Nazi grip on Europe. As part of the ongoing 75th Anniversary of WWII this case is dedicated to two gentlemen who survived D-Day and continued to serve to the end of the war. Paratroopers and bombers alike had German soldiers fearing the skies as Americans took advantage of deliver payloads of man and munition punching holes in the German occupation with devastating effect.


Motorcycle Escort Rider

Few occupations other than an escort rider leave a man to his courage and wit to accomplish the mission. Riding ahead of the convoys, motorcycle escort rider’s would navigate the harrowing route ensuring that it was clear of roadside bombs and enemy combatants. Testing one’s resolve, each mission tempted fate. Imagine completing 20 missions! This Pennsylvanian did just that during World War II.


Heavy is the Head that Wears a Combat Helmet

1st Lt. William Peberdy of Philadelphia wore this helmet in 1970 while serving as a Platoon Leader, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Cambodian Invasion during the Vietnam War.

The names on the rear crown of the helmet identify his support fire bases.  The right side calendar markings tracked his remaining days within a tour of duty, known as a “short timer’s calendar”. Peberdy describes the hash marks on the left side of the helmet as a “grim portrayal” of the “measure by which one’s leadership was evaluated in a particular page of Army history”. He recalls having felt “a grim sense of pride in his unit and its achievements on a dozen bloody contacts”. As we mark the ongoing commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War we hope visitors consider the weight carried by those in combat, and for many, the weight they continue to carry.