WWII (1943-46)

“Special Delivery” — The KIDD and the WAVE

Memory from: Ensign Anne Randle Waldner

Setting the Scene

For many young people, it is strange to think of a time in which television, computers, and the internet did not exist. For youngsters touring the USS KIDD today in the early 21st century, it seems incomprehensible that blacks and whites were berthed in separate quarters, that native-born Americans of Japanese ancestry were not considered American citizens, and that the recruitment of women into the U.S. military for something other than clerical or nursing duties was not common. In the following recollection, Ensign Anne Randle Waldner, a WAVE during World War II, tells of her role in making the KIDD's first voyage a memorable one.

The Recollection

I was the first WAVE [Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service] to be assigned to the office of Supervisor of Shipbuilding in New York City (Admiral Irish) and then to take a training tour at the Kearny Shipyards. Back in 1943, female naval officers were oddities and no one was quite sure just what to do with me. When the KIDD was to be turned over to the Navy, my name was put on the list with my contemporaries, but no notice of my sex was given. It is strange to think (in these years of women actually being assigned to ships), but in 1943, they were still laboring under the uneasy tradition that a woman aboard a naval ship meant bad luck would happen. Therefore, I was somewhat prepared to have the captain refuse to allow me to stay aboard. But he was one of the enlightened ones and was very gracious about it. When we did arrive in Brooklyn, the official message which was sent back to the shipyard in Kearny read: “The WAVE delivered THE KIDD at 2:30 today.” I have a newspaper picture that was published soon after (I think it was in the New York Times) but for security reasons, it read that “The WAVE delivered a ship ….” No name or place allowed.