Pinehurst woman knows meaning of patritotism
Billie Wood, 90, of Pinehurst, may had not exactly been Rosie the Riveter but she served her country in a time of need.
Billie said it was everyone’s patriotic duty to help with the war effort.
She worked for the War Department Army Ordnances Division in Greensboro, N.C. in 1944 which oversaw Wysong & Miles Co. that manufactured bomb fuses for the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II.
“The bomb fuses were secret then. Everything was secret,” Billie said. “We didn’t know what was going on. We had orders from The Pentagon on what to do and how to put it together. The big wigs checked everything out. All of the places made war material.”
She then moved to the Overseas Replacement Depot (ORD) in Greensboro where she processed paperwork for military replacements headed to Europe in the period immediately following WWII.
“I was still in school when the war started. I knew how to type and how to do paperwork,” she said.
Billie’s maiden name was Moore. She was born in Greensboro on June 9, 1925. She graduated from Jamestown High School in Jamestown, N.C. in 1943 then took a job with Jefferson Pilot Insurance Company for a few months before becoming a Civil Servant in 1944.
She said all of her classmates started working right out of high school. The jobs in the war industry paid much more than other jobs did and they were desperate for employees.
Every boy had a draft number, she said, but she only saw one or two classmates after the war.
“It took everybody. Everything was rationed. Cars too. We rode the city buses. But they opened everything for entertainment on Sundays. We would volunteer our time at the USO and at dances too. The big bands were there,” she said. “We danced the jitterbug and dressed like movie stars.”
It was at ORD Here she met and married First Lieutenant Robert (Bob) M. Wood who also worked for ORD.
Bob was a B-24 crew member. He became a POW for 14 months in a German POW camp after his plane went down, though he was never awarded the Purple Heart medal.
“The Germans were young boys. They weren’t mistreated, but there was no food. The Germans didn’t have food either. All of the camp was filled with fliers and all were officers,” she said.
Likewise, German POWs worked in the cafeteria in Greensboro.
“They were good looking boys. They were clean and nice,” Billie said.
The Greensboro ORD operation moved to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey in 1946 and Bob received orders to join them at their new location and took his new bride with him.
Bob left military service in 1947 and he and Billie moved to Orange where they lived in the old Navy Park housing built by the Navy.
Billie said there were no houses to buy when they first arrived in Orange. When they bought their house in Navy Park the first thing they did was buy an air conditioner.
Robert worked for E.I. DuPont, Inc. and Billie worked for the War Assets Department at the U.S. Naval Base in Orange, processing paperwork to liquidate the base assets prior to its closing.
Bob continued working for DuPont until he retired in 1980. He passed away in 2004 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“It was the most graceful service in Arlington. It was kind of like a funeral for a president. It was really impressive with the horse buggies, the bands and the planes flying overhead,” she said.
Billie added she can be buried at Arlington too if she wishes.
Billie currently resides in Pinehurst and she had a birthday party with family and friends at the Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange when she turned 90.
She has been an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Orange since 1950 and is still active playing bridge, gardening and shopping.
“The war was horrible. Everyone was upset about the war. They wanted their sons and daughters to bet back. A lot were missing. It affected every family,” Billie said.
Billie Wood of Pinehurst turned 90 on June 9. Like many others, she helped in the war effort during World War II. She and her husband would eventually settle in Orange and make a life for themselves.
RECORD PHOTO: Lawrence Trimm