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NEWS | Dec. 5, 2013

Spouses' club showcases vintage women's uniforms

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

The Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Officers' Spouses' Club honored military women of yesteryear during their "November to Remember" function, where members of the club modeled female uniforms from the Army Air Corps era and other vintage pieces in fashion Nov. 21 at the JBSA-Randolph Parr Club.

Ten unique uniforms actually worn by active-duty women from World War II to the 1980s were displayed - three of them were on mannequins and the rest on people.

The garb and other items showcased, including a 1950s Air Force-issued sewing kit and purse, belonged to guest speaker David Shultz, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and Texas Air Museum curator.

"I started collecting military uniforms when I was a second lieutenant in 1978," Shultz said. "For us kids who grew up in military housing at a time when most of our fathers had been in combat, they were our heroes. That generation inspired what I'm doing today, which I call a passion for remembrance."

Shultz, who owns more than 100 uniforms, said he unintentionally became a de facto expert on post-WWII military attire as his collection grew, especially on items associated with Women in the Air Force, a program that brought women into limited roles in the Air Force from 1948 to 1976.

"People don't seem to talk about women's uniforms as much as men's, so this was an important look at the past for many of us," Kim Kublie, JBSA-Randolph Officers' Spouses' Club president, said.

In the early 1950s, blue skirts replaced the brown- and tan- colored ones supplied by the Army, and during the 1960s and 1970s, women's uniforms began to adapt with changing societal norms - skirt lengths were shortened, female fatigues were introduced and new footwear replaced the unpopular "granny shoes," Shultz said.

Sporting a blue and white pinstriped uniform with white gloves, Kristine Goodfellow, JBSA-Randolph Officers' Spouses' Club member, explained the uniform she modeled was issued from 1963 to 1976 "during a period when women's military uniforms resembled those of airline stewardesses."

"Standing there and realizing the uniforms were worn by real women made me think about what their lives must have been like," she said. "Each uniform carries a story about the woman who decided to join the military - to serve her country. If we forget the ladies who came before us, we are missing a big part of our heritage."