Honoring the American Heroine: The story of Col. Oveta Culp Hobby
Mar 31, 2017
“Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women…this was a people’s war and everyone was in it.”-Oveta Culp Hobby
Oveta Culp Hobby was never one to sit back while men worked. Born in Killeen, Texas in 1905 to Ike Culp, a lawyer, and his wife Emma, Hobby briefly attended the Mary Hardin Baylor College for Women. She also attended the South Texas College of Law and Commerce, and studied law at the University of Texas Law School, though she never graduated from any of the three institutions.
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) during World War II. Roosevelt appointed Hobby as the first director of WAAC. Because of her work as the director of WAAC, she achieved the rank of Colonel. In Ft. Des Moines, Iowa, Hobby addressed the first class of women officer candidates with words that echoed through generations of women serving in the United States Military, “You are the first women to serve. … Never forget it. … You have a debt and a date,” she told them. “A debt to democracy, a date with destiny.”
In addition to leading the WAAC, she also lead the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). WAAC was created to help bridge gaps left by men who were sent off to war, and these women were the first to wear an Army uniform, after nurses. Under her leadership, in 1945, the WAC had expanded and women held positions across the globe in 239 different kinds of jobs. That same year, Oveta Culp Hobby was the first woman to be awarded the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal. Her citation included “without guidance or precedents in the United States military history to assist her, Colonel Hobby established sound policies and planned and supervised the selection and training of officers and regulations. Her contribution to the war effort of the nation has been of important significance.”
After the conclusion of World War II, Hobby returned to the media world and worked in publishing at the executive level, as well as remaining active in the political sphere. She did not stray too far from government work as eight years after receiving the Distinguished Service Medal, she was the first secretary and first female secretary under President Eisenhower of his newest cabinet department, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She was also named the head of the Federal Security Agency under Eisenhower.
In 1930, she worked at the now-defunct Houston Post. In 1931, She married the publisher of the Houston Post, and former governor of Texas, William P. Hobby. She had two children with Hobby and rose the ranks at the Post to become the executive vice president, president, and ultimately, publisher.
Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby passed away at age 90 in 1995.
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