Sunday, March 25, 2018

Women's History Month 2018: Sue Sarafian Jehl

Sue Sarafian Jehl served in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), which would become the Women's Army Corps (WAC), as one of it's most prominent members during World War II. 

Born in Armenian immigrants in 1917 in Massachusetts, Sue was the oldest of five daughters. The family relocated to the Detroit era, where Sue attended school and graduated from Highland Park Highschool in 1934. She was also a charter member of the Armenian Youth Federation's Detroit chapter. 

In 1942, Sue became one of the first women from Detroit to enlist in the WAAC, which at the time provided secretarial, switchboard and culinary services to the military. Sue felt it her duty to join the war effort as the oldest of five daughters in a family with no sons. 

While serving in North Africa during the war, Sue became General Dwight D. Eisenhower's secretary. Women's roles were limited at first, but Sue knew that her roles was only the beginning for women in the military. In the book, Triumph and Glory: Armenian World War II Heros, Sue said:
"[WAC] paved the way for women in the military. We were the first. Today they have army officers, marines, even fighter pilots. A lot of people doubted that women could do the job, but [General Eisenhower] was confident. He pushed for it. He said in his book that after we were proven, many of those who doubted us were calling WACs to work with." 
Sue became a prominent member of General Eisenhower's core team. In fact, the Orlando Sentinal reported, “Few people in the American military had as much insight into Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s thoughts and moods during World War II as Sue Sarafian Jehl.” In addition to Sue's many U.S. Military decorations, the Government of Brazil awarded her the Brazilian Medal of War (Medalha de Guerra) in 1946. 

In 1947, Sue married Roland Roy Jehl, a military pilot. This marked the end of her military career. The couple had three children. In 1994, Sue appeared on Good Morning America to share her experience with General Eisenhower and his statue of mind leading up to and during the Normandy invasion. She passed away in 1997 at the age of 80. 

Sue's career in the military opened doors for women, and her dedication and competence helped prove that women were valuable to war efforts. 

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