On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, Lisa Weiss, who was awarded the Legion of Honor on March 1st in Boynton Beach. Enrolled in the American army, she talks about her experience during the Second World War. Mrs. Lisa WEISS joined the U.S. Army on August 1943. As a Secretary, she worked at the Eisenhower Headquarters in Reims, France and interviewed American soldiers at the deployment area.
Mrs. Lisa WEISS joined the U.S. Army on August 1943. As a Secretary, she worked at the Eisenhower Headquarters in Reims, France and interviewed American soldiers at the deployment area.
Lisa Weiss, you were a young woman when WWII started. Why did you join the US army?
I used to work for the War Department in New York. When Pearl Harbour got bombed, all the men in our office got into uniform, they were all reserved officers.
So they all got into uniform and they were one of the gal in the office beside me, we were two secretaries, and we looked at each other when someone said, “well, its patriotic war, let’s join”. So we both joined the army. But at this time it was called the “Women’s Auxiliary Corps” it wasn’t an army yet, but six month later it became the “Woman Army Corps”.
WWII was a patriot war, not like today, it’s not patriotic today like it was then. It was a different time, you know, when we were bombed by Pearl Harbour everybody wanted to join.
What are your more significant memories of France?
First I was in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then they shipped me to France, to what we called the “little red schoolhouse in Reims”. I remember that we said that it was the champagne capital of the world. And every time we brought an empty bottle to the plant they gave us free champagne. So we always had champagne. I remember when the war ended we peacefully reassigned I came to our headquarter that our the little red schoolhouse had. That was on May 7, then I went home in September.
My husband came back before I did because he was wounded and I was not notified, I didn’t even know. He was with the 87th artillery division. His division was the first division that was going to come to our redeployment area. I was so excited that my husband’s division was coming through !
Also, I was going to have a three days pass to go to Paris with my husband, we were going to spend three days at a perfume counter have lunch at an outdoor cafe !
But when my husband’s division came to our deployment area he wasn’t here, that was first I heard that he was wounded. So they sent me to England, they gave me a three day pass to visit him in England he was in a Hospital there. But then he came back safe to America.
You worked at the Eisenhower Headquarters in Reims, France and interviewed American soldiers at the deployment area. Could you tell us about those difficult times of war in France that are a part of both French and American shared history?
After WWI ended in Europe, our area became a redeployment area. All the soldiers from Europe were been re-sent to the pacific. In our area we gave new uniforms, new shoes, all the equipment and we shipped them to the Pacific to fight there was the war with Japan. So I use to interview the soldiers when they came to our office and then I sent their story back to their home country on the newspaper. It was very emotional. And during the ceremony it was very nostalgic to remember all those things.
As women during the war, your treatment was different ?
We were all equal. Of course at this time we didn’t have a gun or anything, we were behind the men who had the gun. But they treated us really good, I have no complain.
The last woman awarded in Florida received her Medal in 2008. You were awarded by the Legion of Honour on March 1st in Boynton Beach. How do you feel about being highly recognized by the French authorities?
I was very impressed and very honored to get that medal, it’s a beautiful medal I m showing it to everybody.
This remember me that I was member of a veteran organization, we used to have meetings every month. And two years ago the Club disappeared because I was the only one member, everybody had died. This medail remember me all the veterans who are not here with us today.
Also, I feel very happy to share my story with you. About a year ago someone came from Washington and wanted my story. They taped me, they interviewed me and they said my story would be in the library of Congress in Washington. Yes so I have a story there too…
What would be your message to the younger generation about your experience in life ?
Well, you have to persevere, and be honest with yourself, and be true to your country.