"Star-Spangled Hearts":
American Women Veterans of World War II

Jeffrey S. Suchanek
with Jeanne Ontko Suchanek
Foreword by Melissa A. McEuen

Jeffrey S. Suchanek is head of the Public Policy Archives at the University of
Kentucky and an oral historian.  He is the author of
Time on Target, a World War II
memoir of Gen. William R. Buster, and a member of the Society of American Archivists,
Kentucky Council on Archives, and the Midwest Archives Conference.  Originally from
northeastern Ohio, Suchanek currently lives in Frankfort, Kentucky with his wife Jeanne
Ontko Suchanek, who collaborated with him on
“Star-Spangled Hearts.”
accomplished this with ‘Star-Spangled Hearts.’   Among its many strengths, this thoughtful primary
source collection includes interviewees’ frank opinions on sensitive topics often glossed over or
omitted altogether in ‘Greatest Generation’ anthologies and interview compilations.”  
                         From the Foreword by Melissa A. McEuen, author of
Making War, Making Women:  Femininity and Duty on
                         the American Home Front, 1941-1945

“Star-Spangled Hearts” is an excellent addition to the fields of American women's history and
social military history of World War II.  Suchanek, a gifted oral historian, interviewed service-
women who served in the all-female units of the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, and in the
Army Nurse Corps, and provides memoirs based on twenty of the interviews.  The stories are vivid
reminders of how the nation employed all its resources to win the war. This book is an excellent
starting place for students of the war or of women to come to appreciate the wealth and range of
women's experiences and the impact war had in shaping their lives.’
                         D'Ann Campbell, author of
Women at War with America:
                         Private Lives in a Patriotic Era

‘Jeffrey Suchanek’s captivating collection of interviews reminds us not only that American women
played vital roles in U.S. military efforts during World War II, but also that wartime personnel
needs allowed women to challenge and break out of normative gender roles and social positions.  
Yet, the women veterans’ stories show us that even while wartime service expanded career paths
and educational opportunities for women, assumptions about gender roles and sexuality limited
their advancement and, in the worst cases, led to harassment and character attacks.  This anthology
is a fine example of how home front culture and wartime imperatives become intertwined, and a
needed contribution to the vast body of literature on the American experience in World War II.   
                         Heather Marie Stur, author of
Beyond Combat:
                         Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era

‘In this book, Jeff Suchanek brilliantly captures the captivating stories of young, sheltered women  
who wanted adventure and wanted to help in the WWII war effort, joined the military services and
accomplished their goals.’
                         Col. (Ret.) Arthur L. Kelly, author of
                         Combat Stories from World War II

‘This book is a very readable account of women in the military during World War II.  An introduc-
tion  sets the scene of the war and creation of the women contingents while an epilogue covers the
developments of women in the service up to the present. The core of the book consists of interviews
with women from all of the services.  Although the major focus was on these women’s military
experience, they also deal with the differences in society and the culture in which these women grew
up during the Twenties and Thirties and through their wartime service, compared to that of recent
years:  small town isolation, the discipline that parents maintained, the great spirit of support for the
war effort, as well the attitude most had about sex.’
                         Edward M. Coffman, military historian and author,
The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in
                         Peacetime, 1784-1898
and The Regulars: the American
                         Army, 1898-1941
military service, participating in all branches of the armed forces (army, navy, marines
Corps.  However, until recently their contribution to the war effort has been largely
absent from the histories of that conflict, overshadowed by the attention to the iconic
“Rosie the Riveter” representing women’s service on the home front and in industry.

“Star-Spangled Hearts”:  American Women Veterans of World War II, oral historian
Jeffrey S. Suchanek at last accords these women the front-and-center attention their
service merits.  Based on first-hand interviews he conducted with women veterans from
all of the service branches, he presents here the memoirs of twenty women who
collectively demonstrate that the honor of “Greatest Generation” does not belong to their
male counterparts alone.

Along with amusing accounts of olive-drab underwear and other adaptations of the
military to women and vice versa, and tales of the rigors of basic training and the hard
work and play of military life that will be familiar to male and female veterans alike,
these accounts probe serious issues of sexual harassment and homosexuality that are
matters of current debate regarding military service.  Most importantly, these women
speak to what it means to serve one’s country in time of war, a duty and privilege for
which they were the trailblazers for today’s servicewomen.
Publication Date: November 7, 2011

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Praise for "Star-Spangled Hearts"
About the Author
Used by permission.