A seldom mentioned group of patriots from World War II were the dedicated men and women of the Civil Service. From the Civil Air Patrol to a clerk typist, members of the Civil Service played a vital role. Their willingness to dedicate talents and time in non-combat positions released untold thousands of men for essential military duties. Miriam "Mickey" Stanley Hogan was one such talent.
Born in 1918 into the tiny farming community of Mendes, Ga., Covington resident Miriam "Mickey" Hogan experienced the Great Depression. "Food and jobs were scarce," she said. "We moved around a lot, including Florida."
Mickey was in the first class from Daytona Beach H.S. to hold graduation services on the powdery sands. She said, "I remember the school band played ‘The Blue Danube' for us on the beach. That was special." The family eventually moved to Tampa, Fla.
After attending business college, Mickey served as a church secretary until her father came home from work on Dec. 7, 1941. "We were playing croquet in the front yard," she said. "Dad walked up and said, ‘Haven't you heard the news? Pearl Harbor was bombed.' Well, we stayed glued to the radio after that. We knew war had come."
Her clan was already in the fight. "One uncle was on the USS Monaghan at Pearl Harbor. He was eating breakfast when
the attack began and ran topside in time to see their gunners sink a Japanese two-man midget sub." (The Monaghan was given credit for sinking the only midget sub that may have entered Pearl Harbor).
Mickey took and passed a Civil Service Exam and qualified for duty in Washington, D.C. "I worked at the War Department categorizing soldiers' records until given an opportunity to interview for a secretarial position." She served out the war as a personal secretary to four officers, plus delivered mail in the massive complex - on roller skates.
Her fiancé Francis Felix Hogan, served aboard a Navy troop carrier USS Lejeune, making 17 Atlantic crossings delivering troops and bringing home the wounded. Mickey greeted Francis each time he made port. She said, "One of my girlfriends tracked military convoys, a secret job, but we used the inside information to meet our boyfriends or husbands when their ships docked."
As America celebrated the end of World War II, Mickey was asked to volunteer for post-war duty in Germany. "I called my fiancé to ask his opinion. There was silence on the other line. I said, ‘Francis, are you still there?' He finally said, "I'm thinking! I'm thinking!' Then he said, ‘I'll hold down the farm (given to them by his mother in Missouri) and you go. This may be your only chance to see Europe.' So, I was on my way to Germany."
Frankfort, Germany - 1946: Assigned as head of the secretarial pool, Mickey and her girls (survivors of Hitler's notorious camps) worked diligently to help find MIA (Missing in Action) information for the grieving families back home, among other secretarial duties. "I escorted the girls to the front gate after work," she said. "Security was still tight."
One of her ‘girls' had a sick mother, so Mickey bought the family needed food and supplies. "She thanked me with a beautiful pewter beer stein," Mickey said. "I loved it, but when an American lieutenant offered me $300 for it, I pondered, ‘What would it be worth back home?' so I kept it." Mickey started swapping her cigarette and liquor coupons with military personnel willing to search the rubble of damaged buildings for beer steins. "I didn't smoke or drink so why not?" she said. Mickey owns a fabulous collection of 14 priceless German beer steins.
Mickey and her roommate Linda, lived in a third floor off-base apartment tended to by a German maid. "Our maid Erika, was an optometrist, but those jobs went to the men." Erika liked Mickey's black and white saddle oxfords.
Mickey drew an outline of Erika's foot on paper, sent it to her parents, and they sent Erika a pair of saddle oxfords. Mickey said, "I expect Erika was the only optometrist maid in Germany wearing saddle oxfords." Erika and Mickey discussed writing a novel on Erika's political captivity during the war using the fictional name, Cean, for the main protagonist. They never wrote the book, but both of their first daughters are named Cean.
Mickey and her roommate took weekend trips to Holland, Switzerland, France, Italy and war-torn Czechoslovakia. "Czechoslovakia was heartbreaking," she said. "Notes on buildings indicated the number of people shot or murdered or bombed inside."
On one sightseeing excursion to a huge castle outside of Frankfort, Mickey and her roommate broke a few regulations. She said, "We were only allowed on the ground floor; the upper floors were officer quarters. When a car blew a tire outside the guard rushed out to investigate what sounded like an explosion. Well, Linda and I ran upstairs to have a look-see." They ‘looked' until hearing footsteps approach. "We saw a door sign ‘BAD' which is German for Bath. We went inside and closed the door, scared half to death until the footsteps faded away. When I turned around I got the surprise of my life!"
Gold door handles, gold faucets, gold toilets, gold mirror frames, gold everything. "We couldn't believe it," Mickey said. "When Linda saw me staring at the gold toilet she said, ‘You're not going to are you?' and I said, ‘Linda, when are we ever going to get another opportunity to use a gold toilet?' Well, I did, and so did she; then we got the heck out of there, especially after I peeked inside the bedroom and saw a general's uniform hanging from the bedpost."
After serving 15 months in Germany, Mickey returned home and married Francis within two weeks. She said, "We farmed in the cold of Missouri but I got snowed in once for 14 days. When Francis came home I said, ‘Lookie here, I don't know about you but I'm headin' on back to Florida!" Dade City, Fla., would be called home for many years to come.
In 1980, Mickey, her roommate Linda and their former maid Erika, reunited in San Pedro, Calif., for three weeks of memories - about war, about friendship.
On World War II: "I enjoyed Civil Service," Mickey said. "World War II was a sad time and a good time. I lost family in the war; I made good friends in the war; and I'll remember all of them forever."
Pete Mecca is a Vietnam veteran, freelance writer and columnist. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.