The Assembly Minority Conference hosted a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ event today to honor women from across Long Island who, during World War II, supported the war effort by joining the American workforce in manufacturing plants that produced munitions, tanks, planes, ships and materials needed to support our troops serving overseas.
“We honor the women who have kept our nation strong and made all the difference in our national defense,” said Assemblyman Joseph Saladino. “These brave leaders, like everyone from the greatest generation, have blazed a trail for all of us to follow. I salute our honorees who, like all senior citizens, deserve our utmost in thanks and praise.”
Assemblyman Joseph Saladino’s grandmother was a military first. Jessie Purpura, her sisters and the other female employees of the Brooklyn Navy Yards fought for and won installation as America’s first females inducted into service with the United States Navy. The Assemblyman’s grandmother held the title of Yomanette in the United States Navy during World War II. She was buried with honors at a military service and her uniform is on display at the United States Naval Museum in Key West, Florida.
When American men began enlisting for military service shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 a shortage in the workforce was created at many factories across the country including Grumman Aircraft and Republic Aviation on Long Island.
Rosie the Riveter, a fictional character immortalized by posters supporting the war effort and a song of the same name, helped to recruit more than six million women to join the American war effort on the home front between December 1941 and early 1944. Rosie became a cultural and feminist icon and was the result of the most successful advertising recruitment in American history.
The fictional Rosie was inspired by a real life Rosie, whose name was Ms. Rose Will Monroe, born in Pulaski County, Kentucky in 1922. During the war, Rose moved to Michigan where she worked as a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory building B-29 and B-24 bombers. She was eventually asked to star in a promotional film and was featured in a poster campaign about the war effort at home.
During the war years on Long Island, the leading employers of Rosies were Grumman Aircraft and Republic Aviation. Grumman has been a part of the Long Island community since it was founded in Baldwin during 1930. As the company grew and expanded, they moved to Valley Stream in 1932, then to Farmingdale a year later and eventually ending up in Bethpage in 1936.
Grumman’s main aircraft production during the war was the F4F Wildcat and its replacement the F6F Hellcat, both fighters, and the TBF Avenger, a torpedo bomber. The plant in Bethpage concentrated on producing the F6F Hellcat.
Republic Aviation, based in Farmingdale, was responsible for building the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter. There were more Thunderbolts produced than any other plane during World War II.