Female vet relates her experience at Pearl Harbor
Connie Snyder awaited her turn to speak in a banquet room with male World War II veterans – army fighter pilots and generals. She was reluctant to disclose her role in Navy intelligence, even though she knew some of it had been declassified in 1985. A book had been written by an officer’s wife posthumously. She read about the declassification in the preface.
Snyder graduated from Smith College in June of 1942, with a desire to do her part for the war effort. After receiving her diploma she returned to Pennsylvania, where she grew up, and in the fall began her indoctrination and training in naval communications in Northampton. She would become a part of the first class of Waves, the women’s volunteer service division, commissioned as an ensign at the office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C., as a communications watch officer.
In June of 1945, Snyder, now a senior lieutenant, was transferred to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Radio Unit at Pearl Harbor as an assistant to Capitan Jack Holtwick, the executive officer. Their role was to keep the fleet informed of all enemy activity in the Pacific. For this service, they were authorized to wear the Navy Unit Commendation ribbon. Fleet Admirals Nimitz, Spruance, Halsey and high-ranking flag officers complimented the unit for its work, she says.
To honor the war’s end, Queen Elizabeth extended the unit an invitation to "Splice the Main Brace," a formal celebration with the British at Pearl Harbor.
Then, Snyder remembers sailing home on the hospital ship, the Rescue, going under the Golden Gate Bridge with the band playing and receiving her piece of the homeward pennant made a rewarding experience of the trip back to the District, to be separated from the service.
Later, a three month-trip to Europe contrasted her previous war experiences. She recalls buildings completely destroyed, leaving only a wall with a window and a planted flower box. The most moving event she remembers is the evening the lights came back on in London after years of blackout; when, in the pouring rain, cars crowded with children saw the city lighted for the very first time.
Branch of service: W.A.V.E.S. – "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service."
Unit/division/battalion: Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Communications Intelligence Duty at Washington, D.C., and U.S. Pacific Fleet Radio Unit at Pearl Harbor.
Battles/campaigns: All battles involving the Pacific Fleet, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea and Layte Gulf.
Highest rank: Senior Lieutenant
Awards: Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon.
Special duties: Assistant to the executive officer at Pearl Harbor in 1945
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Penn.
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