Their Stories Told

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Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class
Ethel Christeson

On September 2, 2021, Ethel Christeson, a member of Bethany Lutheran in Port Orchard, WA. celebrated her 99th birthday.

A longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Ethel headed back to college in New York City back in 1941. She was 19. Her first time in New York, her first time so far away from home, an exciting life seemed to lie ahead of her.

Late in her first semester, on December 7, the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Service launched a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, HI., forcing the U.S. into a war it had been trying to avoid. On Monday, December 8th, President Roosevelt asked Congress to make the declaration of war. Congress agreed and the following Thursday it also declared war on Germany and Italy.

In 1942 Ethel dropped out of college to enlist in a brand new program called the “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service” (WAVES). Ethel would be one of the first women to serve her country in the United States Navy.

After her basic training at Wellesley College in New York Ethel was stationed at the U.S.M.C. training center at Naval Station Newport in Jacksonville, Florida. Later she was transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Her rate, a Navy word for “job,” at these training facilities was a Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class. She helped keep the Marines healthy as they trained for combat.

Ethel was honorably discharged a few years later with the lifelong distinction of being one of our nation’s very first wave of WAVES.

Ethel says,
“Each morning when I wake up I ask,
‘What are Your orders, Sir?’”
“And what does He say?” her pastor asked.
“Tell them about Me. Spread the Good News.”

A hearty thanks to Ethel Christeson, and to the men and women like her, who serve for our nation’s protection and defense. Until our Savior returns to put an end to such things, may He Himself bless their work!

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