Evelyn Ann Whittaker

Evelyn Ann Whittaker

By Mary Kay Gominger

When Evelyn ‘Ann’ Whittaker decided to join the Navy Waves in 1944, little did she know she was starting a chain reaction within her family that would last through two more generations.

Ann and her brother both served in the Navy during World War II. After the war, Ann went on to raise four sons. All four of her sons served in the military – one a Marine and three in the Army.

“They were all in during the Vietnam era,” Ann said. “I remember having two in Vietnam and two in Germany at the same time. I learned, though, that you couldn’t obsess about it and worry all the time.”

They all came home safely and all took advantage of the GI Bill to continue their education.

One of her sons beat the odds though…he and his wife had seven children, six sons and one daughter. All seven of her son’s children have served or are still serving in the military.

“I don’t know why they all chose the military,” Ann said. “I do know that my son told them as they were growing up that there was no way he could put them all through college, that they needed to come up with their own plan. He told them he had used the GI Bill but whatever they did, they needed to figure it out for themselves.”

And figure it out they did. Six of Ann’s grandchildren, the boys, are going or have been to college using the benefits of the GI Bill. Her grand- daughter just completed basic training and plans on using the same benefit to get her education.

“My son’s father-in-law was career Marine also,” said Ann. “So the grandkids grew up hearing a lot about the military.

Ann has been a resident of the AFRH since 1991. She lived in Gulfport until the closure of that facility in 2005. Ann said she had never heard of the (then) Naval Home but was a member of Waves National Unit 52 in Pensacola, Fla., and they took a tour of the Gulfport home in 1989. That was the first she had heard of the place.

Ann recalled, “I immediately inquired about entry but at the time they were doing some work on the building so they said it would be about 18 months before I could come in. And sure enough, they called 18 months later and I moved in.”

Her life now in DC, she says, is really no different than it was in Gulfport.

“We have everything we had there,” Ann said. “Some things were, of course, a lot closer and more convenient. But I’m settled in and am enjoying living here. When the Gulfport home reopens, I’ll move back. But until then, I have no complaints.”