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Resident Recalls ‘Riveting’ Experience

6-28 Doris

While a big percentage of able-bodied men were overseas fighting during World War II, many women on the home front worked in defense plants building planes and equipment to help defeat the enemy.

Doris Burrell, 91, now living in Mountain View, was one of the young girls putting rivets in B29 airplane wings until the war ended in 1945, making her a “Rosie The Riveter,” an American cultural icon representing women who worked in the shipyards and factories during World War II to produce war supplies.

At 17 years old, right out of high school from Akron, Ohio, Doris began working at Goodyear Aircraft. Her job was to escort salesmen and others around the plant once they cleared security. She then worked at Firestone Aircraft Defense Plant riveting B29 airplane wings.

Doris said there weren’t many men at home during the war, and there were often no guys to dance with at local dances. She had the privilege of working beside her best friend, and they would often try to “sneak a peak at the test pilots,” she said as she laughed.

While she was from a large graduating class, most of those guys were shipped overseas, and many didn’t return. Her brother served, earning two bronze stars and two citation awards, but he never spoke of his accomplishments. Her husband, Fred, who served in the Navy before they were married, was in the South Pacific after Pearl Harbor when a typhoon hit. He and another service member spent two days floating on a large Coke cooler before they were rescued from the flood waters.

“It was a bad war,” many lost their lives, times were hard, and so many things were rationed, she explained. If someone had a car, they would gather their ration coupons to get some gas.

After the war Doris married Fred, and they had three children. Her husband’s job took them many places, including Batesville in the 1960s. Her son, Fred, attended high school at Batesville and because he had friends in the area and loved this part of the country, he decided to retire to Mountain View.

See the full story in the June 28, 2017 issue.

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