CARNEGIE (KDKA) — When the soldiers and sailors shipped out for World War II, many women enlisted, too. Not in the Army or the Navy, but in the WACS and the WAVES.
Those were the service organizations that cared for the wounded coming back home. One of those women was Virginia Forsythe-Rye.
She is now 95-years-old and shared the story of her amazing life with KDKA’s Andy Sheehan.
Virginia lives in Carnegie, on Forsythe Road, named after her grandfather, George Forsythe, who fought for the Union at Gettysburg.
“Came home and purchased this house and here we are,” she told KDKA.
Military service runs so deep in her family that when Pearl Harbor was bombed Virginia enlisted in the WAVES to support the wounded sailors coming home.
“I love my country, and I want to do something, and maybe my portion will do some good,” she said.
To keep up the spirits of the wounded, she brought Helen Keller to the naval hospital at Newport, R.I., to share her experience of overcoming blindness and deafness.
“She never stopped until she went to every bed,” said Virginia. “She was a magnificent lady.”
And to keep up the WAVES going strong, she recruited Frank Sinatra for a concert.
“Here’s old Blue Eyes,” she said pointing him out in a photo. “And I told the girls that if they screamed and made a fuss, I would take Frank off the stage, and look here not a smile. They were afraid the old bird would send him away.”
Although not a sailor, Virginia earned the rank of lieutenant and was awarded a medal for expert marksmanship.
But she says it is service to others that’s kept her young, though she fears we haven’t done enough for our vets returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I don’t think we do enough to transport them from that life to this life,” she says. “It’s such a different life.”
Virginia doesn’t go to the Veteran Day parades any more. She finds them too emotional. But her heart goes out to the all the veterans, those who are with us and those who are with us no more.
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