Veterans History Project: Susan Rawls - - Jackson, MS


Veterans History Project: Susan Rawls

By Jennifer Martin - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Navy first opened its doors to women in 1942 and Susan Dabney jumped at the chance to expand her horizons.

"I really didn't know what I expected but I thought it would be fun," she explains. "I joined the Navy to see the world."

She was part of the WAVES --short for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. At the time, WAVES could not serve aboard combatant ships or aircraft, and initially were restricted to duty in the continental United States only.

Dabney was sent first to Pensacola, Florida, then to Beaufort, South Carolina, where she would serve as an instructor.

"An arial gunnery instructor. I had to teach them how to shoot."

She says she never had any trouble teaching men and she became quite good on the gun. But her methods were not what you might expect.

"I'd just get ready, close my eyes and hoped I'd hit what I was supposed to."

Dabney would stay in the Navy two years. Soon after she left, she married Hollis Rawls, and became a navy wife. She finally got her chance to see the world, traveling with her husband's Navy career for the next two decades. They were married 62 years and had two children. 

"I've had the most wonderful life anyone has ever had."

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