Phyllis Bradford
Phyllis Bradford

Phyllis Bradford

AFRH-W Resident Highlight – Phyllis Bradford
By Christine Baldwin, Librarian

Phyllis Bradford was born in Indiana. In October 1943 (eight months after the formation of the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve and soon after the removal of the braces from her teeth), she left for book camp at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It was her first lap of her mission to “Free a Man to Fight.” Basic training was six weeks long and Phyllis’ most memorable experience was having her male instructor tell her that she was “impossible!”  She was next sent to Marine Corps Base in San Diego, California. Phyllis reported to Headquarter Company, Service Battalion under Sgt. Robinson. After a few days, the sergeant was sent overseas and Phyllis took over his job as payroll clerk for the headquarters.

Another duty was to be the business manager of the company softball team, where there was a rapid turnover of players. When Phyllis asked the commanding officer not to sign a liberty for their pitcher, he replied “Don’t make it out!”  She also got to play softball in front of General Holland “Howling Mad” Smith, a leading Marine general in World War II. The base newspaper, The Chevron, noted “Marine Corps Base’s short fielder turned in the prettiest fielding play of the game, when she made a diving catch of a low line drive in short left field”. Needless to say, Phyllis was this short fielder, but the paper printed the name of the left fielder, so there went Phyllis’ claim to fame.

She didn’t get to travel much, only one 72 hour leave in Los Angeles, where she was able to stay in the largest room in the Biltmore Hotel. Phyllis was able to see the homes of several movie stars and she even saw Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall at the Mocambo, a nightclub on the Sunset Strip.

Phyllis was fortunate to meet many interesting people during her service, like the ever new group of graduating recruits each month.  She saw four of her barracks-mates jet off to San Francisco to serve as receptionists at the formation of the United Nations. She was also coached by NBA stars Joe Fulks of the Philadelphia Warriors and Kenny Sailors, who was College Basketball Player of the Year for 1943.

Twenty-five months later Phyllis received her honorable discharge. She served in the same job for the same company at the same desk.

Phyllis came to AFRH-W in 2007 and has been very active in the events around the home. Even today, she holds three volunteer jobs to help out.