MILTON, WA-When we think of Veterans Day, we think about honoring the brave soldiers that fought and gave their lives in the wars of our country, but seldom do we remember those that were serving here in the United States. Mill Ridge Village in Milton is home to Fontania “Fon” Schrup, one of the first women in the United States Navy. In 1942, WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, became a WWII division of the US Navy. Fon remembers standing with her gruff sergeant at Hunter College in New York, looking down the field at her platoon and beyond at the thousands of women in formation. The sergeant asked her what was wrong, as she had a tear in her eye, and Fon replied, “This is history we are a part of.” She says he looked down on the field and with a tear in his own eye, said, “Yes, it truly is.”
After taking an aptitude test, she was told she should work in a control tower or as a link trainer (to train pilots to fly). After trying the control tower and seeing a couple of near-misses, Fon decided to try training pilots. Training pilots, Fon soon realized, was her niche, and although some of the arrogant pilots liked to give the 5’3″, 97 lb ball of fire a hard time, many came back to tell her the training in Celestial Navigation where she taught had saved their lives.
When asked why she decided to become a WAVE, she says she knew it was the right thing to do. She tried to enlist on her 18th birthday, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but was turned down because the Navy would not accept women younger than 20 years old. On her 20th birthday, she enlisted and says she never looked back.
Pictured: Top, Fon on a trip with Mill Ridge Village to the Museum of Flight. Right, Fontania “Fon” Schrup in her Navy uniform