A new Veterans Day exhibit at the Fox Island Museum is focusing this year on female veterans and the role women have played throughout history in war efforts.
Museum volunteers Gail Jones and Virdie Golliher put the exhibit together — titled “A Salute to What Women Bring to the Fight” — after reading “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion” by Fannie Flagg for their book club.
“On Veterans Day, the men are always celebrated and the women are always forgotten,” Jones said. “We thought we needed to do something for our gals.”
So the pair reached out to local female veterans and put together an exhibit that spans a time period from Vietnam to Desert Storm, including bits of history from World War I and II.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
On Veterans Day, the men are always celebrated and the women are always forgotten. We thought we needed to do something for our gals.
“Everyone (in the exhibit) lives now either on Fox Island or in Gig Harbor,” Golliher said.
“It’s all our local women,” Jones added.
Included in the exhibit are:
▪ Vernetta Muston, Gig Harbor, who served as an Army nurse in Vietnam.
▪ Kathy Griffin, Fox Island, who served as an Army nurse in Desert Storm.
▪ Jennifer Beard, Fox Island, who served as a Air Force helicopter pilot in the Middle East.
▪ Virginia Metcalf, Gig Harbor, who served as an Army colonel and physiotherapist.
▪ Jane Sweeney, Gig Harbor, who served as an Army colonel and physiotherapist.
The exhibit includes uniforms worn by the women, pictures and military gear they used during their service.
The idea also of the exhibit is to focus on the many things women did in the military and on the home front.
Also included are women who served in support roles for the military, with uniforms and information on these roles.
“The idea also of the exhibit is to focus on the many things women did in the military and on the home front,” Golliher said.
One of the featured groups are the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) — a civilian group contracted by the military to perform domestic flying missions during World War II. More than 1,100 women served as pilots, flying every type of airship available to the military at that time.
Another group in action during World War I and II were the Cootiettes, which had a large Fox Island group of women who visited soldiers in the hospital, wrote letters to deployed men and performed volunteer activities. Similar to the Cootiettes were the Donut Dollies, started in World War II and carried through Vietnam, these women were a detachment of the Red Cross who would bring snacks and games to help soldiers decompress during their service.
They are just absolutely incredible. These women are amazing. They all have such interesting stories.
These women were given uniforms, ranks and dog tags and would head into combat zones to reach their assigned postings.
Jan (Sigurdson) McMullen, a Gig Harbor resident and member of Jones and Golliher’s book club, spent a year as a Donut Dolly right after graduating college.
“They are just absolutely incredible. These women are amazing,” Jones said. “They all have such interesting stories.”
The exhibit will be up through November, with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 5).
The Fox Island Museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1017 9th Ave. Court FI. The museum can be reached at 253-549-2461.
“A Salute to What Women Bring to the Fight”
When: 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during November.
Where: Fox Island Museum, 1017 9th Ave. Court FI on Fox Island.
Cost: $1 per person donation suggested.
Reception: 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 5).