HAMILTON — One local luminary continues to inspire and influence everyone around her — from her family and friends to countless women across the globe.
United States Veteran Grace (Klay) Hogan was recently honored at a ceremony in her Hamilton home, where she was presented with a “Living Legend Proclamation” from The Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation. The recognition pays tribute to Hogan for her extraordinary life of service.
“Her inspirational service and family sacrifice helped blaze a trail for future generations of women to follow who would proudly serve the nation in peace and war,” said Ohio Ambassador Judy Pearson for The Military Women’s Memorial, as she read the proclamation to Hogan.
Hogan is being honored as a Living Legend for her service in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. She was one of the first women to aid our country. Joining the Army after her brother’s B-17 was downed over France, she had already been doing equally inspiring work as a “Rosey the Riveter” at the Firestone Aircraft Company.
Grace is the member of a Gold Star family, a “Rosey the Riveter” and a woman who served in the Women’s Army Corps. She and her husband raised a family with eight children, and she went on to serve the community and tell her story.
“This is inspiring not only me, who got to stand on her shoulders, but the general public. It helps people to understand that women veterans don’t stop serving. No veteran stops serving, they just continue with their service in a different way,” said Pearson, who served the country in the Air Force as a nurse for more than 22 years.
At nearly 100 years old, Grace is still contributing. She is still a proud woman veteran, Pearson said.
The “Living Legend” program recognizes military women whose stories of service provide inspiration and as an example for American’s across the globe. The stories of these distinguished women help to increase public awareness of the contribution they made to America’s national defense.
During the ceremony, there was a display that featured the proclamation and pictures of Hogan. Pearson presented Hogan with the “Living Legend Proclamation” on behalf of Military Women’s Memorial. The American Rosey the Riveter Association also sent a teddy bear that Pearson gave to Hogan. She also handed out pink toy soldiers to Grace and her family.
“Grace is an amazing woman who is worthy of our deepest appreciation as a nation, and as a community,” said Pearson.
Hogan, 99, was surrounded by more than 32 family members, who came together on the morning of Sat., Sept. 3 for the celebration. Hogan, who will turn 100 in February, is a native of Sardis, Ohio. However, she has spent much of her life in Hamilton. Grace has eight children, 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Four of her children, Barb Howell, Julie Hill, Fred Hogan and Tom Hogan were able to be with her for the ceremony.
When asked what the honor meant to Hogan, she said, “I’m honored.”
She exclaimed, “It’s great” when responding to what it was like for her to be joined by so many members of her family for the ceremony.
Hogan was one of six children. Her father ran a ferry boat between Sardis and Paden City, West Virginia. Hogan graduated from high school in Sardis. She worked at Paden City Pottery, during and after high school, before joining the National Youth Organization.
“Somebody mentioned to her dad that she should join the National Youth Organization, or the NYO, so she did that. She joined that group, and they sent her to a sheet metal school and from there, she was offered a job with the Firestone Aircraft Company in Akron, Ohio,” said Barb Howell, Hogan’s daughter.
As a graduate of sheet metal school through the National Youth Organization, Hogan held a job working on C-46 wings. The workers did riveting and installing electrical wiring for the landing lights, and wing tip lights. That was in May of 1942.
Hogan said seeing the “Uncle Sam Wants You” posters everywhere made her feel like it was her patriotic duty to serve in the military.
Hogan signed with the WAC’s, was ordered to Cleveland Ohio, Company 17, 3rd Regiment and completed six weeks of basic training at Fort Des Moines in Des Moines, Iowa, class 104. Her Company Commander was 1st. Lt. Ruth Lynch.
Hogan was active in the Women’s Army Corps from Aug. 1944 to July of 1946. After the war, she was promoted from PFC to CPL in Jan. 1946. The Women’s Army Corps was the women’s branch of the United States Army.
Another one of the reasons Hogan joined the Women’s Army Corps was all her brothers served in the military during World War II. Three of her served in the South Pacific and returned to the U.S. unharmed. The fourth, Floyd Klay, was killed in action over Paris. He was a navigator on a B-17.
Hogan went active duty on Sept. 15, 1944, which one year to the date that her brother, Floyd passed away, said Howell.
On Nov. 1, 1944, Hogan and several other members of Women’s Army Corps (WAC’s) were stationed at Patterson Field Area C in Dayton. She did mostly clerical work. The women also had other duties such as barracks duty.
The barracks were heated by a coal-burning stove, Howell said. Every night, one of the ladies was assigned to stoke the coals and keep the fire going at night.
“In May 1945, we were transferred to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio and I was assigned to the classification office. I interviewed new male arrivals and kept their records. This made me popular among the other women who would want to know something about a certain guy,” Hogan said.
Following the war, Hogan and her best friend Rhoda Boggs learned to fly at what’s now known as the Butler County Regional Airport - Hogan Field.
Instead of returning home to Sardis after the war, Hogan was invited live with Boggs and her parents in Hamilton, and she got a job at General Machinery on Third Street.
At the airfield, Hogan also met, fell in love with and married her flight school instructor Art Hogan, whose family bought the airport in 1932.
Grace still resides near the airport in a home she and Art built. She can look out her front window and see the East end of the runway.
“As it turns out, their flight instructor was Art Hogan, who my Mom married in October of 1947. They had eight children, and I’m the last of the eight,” said Howell.
Other honors Hogan has received include the “Army Good Conduct Medal,” an “American Campaign Medal,” and a “World War II Victory Medal.”
The Hogans belonged to St. Veronica’s Parrish. Art was involved in the Knights of Columbus and Grace was part of the ladies auxiliary. When her boys were growing up, she was an assistant leader for the Boy Scouts. Hogan and her son Fred have spoken together at senior centers and other venues, where she has shared about her experiences in the Army, and he’s talked about his tour in Iraq.
Hogan is one of the women featured at the Military Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. She is also an active member of a quilting group.
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