Linn County

Major Mary S. Bell




Waterloo's First Woman Officer

Graduated with 435 others, Miss Marion C. Lichty, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Burr G. Lichty, 1481 Newell street, Saturday earned her commission as third officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary corps after six weeks training at Fort Des Moines, Ia. Only five other Iowans graduated: Clara C. Han and Helen E. Hanson, Des Moines; Dorothy A. Tomhave, Estherville; Helen Lloyd-Jones, Mason City and Mary S. Bell, Cedar Rapids.

Source: The Courier, August 30, 1942

All dressed up with plenty of places to go but these Iowans, first from the Hawkeye state to be graduated as officers in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, don’t know where until they receive their assignments, after two more weeks of specialized training at Fort Des Moines.

These WAACS—from left in the photo:
Miss Mary S. Bell, Cedar Rapids, former dean of women at Coe college;
Miss Marion C. Lichty, Waterloo;
Mrs. Clara G. F. Han, Des Moines;
Miss Dorothy Tomhave, Estherville—
Were among the first 436 to be graduated as third officers, equivalent to the rank of second lieutenant, at the Army post Saturday.

Their basic training over, the WAACS will be assigned to active duty to relieve soldiers for the fighting fronts, after completing two weeks of specialized training.

Actually two other native Iowans, Helen Lloyd-Jones, Mason City, and Helen E. Hanson, Des Moines, also were graduated, but they were inducted from corps areas outside the seventh, in which Iowa is located.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, August 31, 1942 (photo included)

Lieuts Bell, Flanagan Visit Coe Campus

Lieut. Mary Bell, former dean of women, and Lieut. Elizabeth Flanaghan, '41, daughter of Col. Flanaghan, both members of the W.A.A.C visited the Coe campus Saturday and Monday morning. Lieut. Bell is on her way to a new station and Lieut Flanagahn is stationed at Ft. Des Moines.

Lieut Bell was one of the first two women from Iowa taken into the organization. Since receiving her commission she has been teaching company administration at Ft. Des Moines.

Source: Coe Cosmos, September 30, 1942

70 Pct. Of Iowa WACs From Fighting Families

A survey of approximately 70 per cent of the total Iowa WAC enrollment reveals its close integration with the war effort, through service of members overseas and in this country, and through other member of their families.

Maj. Mary S. Bell, former dean of women at Coe college, Cedar Rapids, and now head of the WAC section of the seventh service command, Omaha, Neb., is believed to be the highest ranking Iowa WAC.

Source: The Des Moines Register, Sunday, Dec. 5, 1943


WAC Maj. Mary S. Bell, former dean of women at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Ia., has been appointed instructor at the command and general staff school in the army at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the first woman to hold such a position. She is shown above conducting a class in army personnel and administrative procedure, attended by male officers. She previously was WAC director of the 7th service command, Omaha, Neb.

Source: The DesMoines Tribune, May 1, 1944 (photo included)

The visit to Fort Des Moines Friday of Col. Oveta Culp Hobby (center), WAC director, was the occasion for a reunion of four Iowa majors, members of the first WAC officers training class. From left they are Jean Melin, Osage, Marion Lichty, Waterloo; Mary S. Bell, Cedar Falls; and Kathleen McClure, Iowa Falls. Colonel Hobby is wearing a new style jacket.

Source: The Des Moines Register, February 17, 1945 (photo included)