Myra Estelle Terry (1917-2015)

Myra Estelle Terry was born on May 28th, 1917 in the city of Barre, Massachusetts. From a family of ten children, she spent most of her early years on a farm in Brookfield, MA.

After High School, she moved thirty-five minutes away to attend Becker College, where she successfully earned a degree in secretarial studies. Fresh out of college, she was employed by American Optical at the border of Connecticut and Southbridge, MA.

When the war broke out, the young, energetic, and patriotic Myra decided to join the U.S. Navy and assist her country. “She signed up and started losing hope when some three weeks later she was notified to appear in Boston for an interview,” said one of Massachusetts’ newspaper articles. On October 9th, 1942, she would be sworn in.

For her military training, Myra was sent to Stillwater, Oklahoma as one of the very first women to enlist. She took part of the WAVE program, a special project to replace the vacant positions at naval shore stations, left by the men at war. Because of her early enlistment, she and other recruits went a few weeks without a uniform as the navy had not yet designed the WAVE gear.

Myra Terry, posing on the right of the photograph

For three years, Myra would serve her country in Portland and Bath, Maine, as well as Boston, Massachusetts as a secretary and recruiter. Among other important work, she was assigned to accompany seventy-two women apprentices from South Station, Boston to Hunter College, New York.

Later during the war, she was sent to the Naval Air Station at Kane’ohe Bay in the territory of Hawaii where she would stay until the end of the worldwide conflict. Myra would be discharged on October 31st, 1945, three years after her enlistment. She would later reflect on her experience as one of the proudest moments of her life.

Myra was featured in a series of newspaper articles where she would be quoted and shown as an example of hard work in the Navy.

Myra’s daughter, Pat Mellen, decided to donate her U.S. Navy WAVE uniform and dog tags to the Cathedral of the Pines. They are currently on display at the Peter J. Booras Museum in Rindge, NH.

Myra Terry’s WAVE Uniform