A Snapshot of San Antonio During World War II.
Foreign Aid: Latina Air-WACs

Women, including local Latinas, played an important role in the war effort by taking on non-combat military and civilian jobs, freeing men to fight. The Air-WACs (Women's Army Corps) created the Benito Juarez squadron, named for Mexico's famous liberator. For weeks the city held recruitment events, including variety shows on Alamo Plaza and drives at both the Teatro Nacional and the District Recruiting Office in the Calcasieu Building on Broadway. Nicknamed the "Bee-Jays," the women who joined formed the first Air-WAC squadron of Latin-American descent.

On March 26, 1944, newsreel cameras filmed these women stepping into history as they were sworn in at a ceremony held at Municipal Auditorium.29 Officials from the Mexican Air Force, the governors of four Mexican states, and thousands of others attended. A short "roll call" to honor Latinos lost or killed during the war formed part of the ceremony. The Randolph Field military band and Mexican performers Carmel LeGrand, Louis Dorantes, and Rosita, invited by future KCOR radio (and Univision TV) founder Raul Cortez, provided Latin songs, dances, and music throughout the evening.30 So great was the military's need that the Bee-Jays, and any women who joined the WACs, could choose the base where they wanted to serve.31 Typical jobs included control tower specialists, radio operators, airplane mechanics, sheet metal workers, aerial photo analysts, and weather observers and forecasters.

About this Image:
1) The remodeled entrance to the Teatro Nacional, located at the northeast corner of W. Commerce Street and Santa Rosa Avenue. Operated by the Lucchese family since 1917, the Nacional became a premier venue for Spanish-language movies and live entertainment. It closed briefly for remodeling by architect N. Straus Nayfach in 1939. Nayfach later designed the famous Alameda Theater for Gaetano Lucchese.32 Credit: Ignacio Torres.

2) An oblique view of the main entrance to the Calcasieu Building located at the corner of Broadway (left) and Travis (right) Streets. The Calcasieu housed a variety of offices, including the military's district recruitment offices and, later, the offices of the KCOR radio station.

To Learn More:
Courtesy of San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation.
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c. 1941-1945c. 1941-1945
2) 19822) 1982