Opinion: Navy Veteran Receives Idaho Veterans Medallion | Guest column
The familiar slogan offers a promise: “Join the Navy and Discover the World”. Wanda Scott Pollard did it – and she did.
And for her service, Wanda is one of five veterans honored on the new Idaho Veterans Medallion. The proceeds from its sale will support Idaho’s two veterans cemeteries, one in Boise and one in Blackfoot.
I chaired the committee which selected the winners. The other members were State Senators Patti Anne Lodge and Michelle Stennett and State Representatives Christy Zito and Elaine Smith. We were all in awe of Wanda’s military service after which she, like so many other Idaho veterans, returned to her hometown and led a long and productive life for herself.
Yet she saw the world first. She joined the Navy in 1953, apparently on a whim, and over the next five years she was based in the Azores, once landed in Cuba, and traveled to places like Iceland. But her signing service was as a hostess on the personal plane of the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Jerauld Wright.
A letter of recommendation from the office of Adm. Wright noted that as a hostess, Wanda – “Miss Scott” in the letter – met many high-ranking civilians, foreign dignitaries and officials from the service. The mission required someone with a “pleasant disposition”, who had “the greatest tact” and who had “sufficient self-confidence to meet the audience well.” Miss Scott possesses all of these traits and has used them to a marked degree in carrying out her assignments.
The other veterans honored on the medallion had equally interesting military careers. Kay Gott Chaffey served with female air service pilots during World War II, transporting fighter jets from their place of manufacture to their military destinations; Judy Blake Eighmy served in Vietnam as a US Naval Nurse on the USS Repose, the hospital ship known as the “Angel of the East”; Carmelita Pope, a professional actress who entertained American troops in Italy during World War II on a tour of United Service Organizations Inc .; and Carrie L. French of Caldwell, a US Army munitions specialist who served in the Middle East and, sadly, was killed in 2005 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Fittingly, the proceeds from the sale will support both veterans cemeteries by providing funds for uniforms, materials and tools used by color guards, volunteers and facility guards to deliver professional ceremonies, safe and meaningful to the families and friends of veterans buried in cemeteries. . The funds will also support comfortable reception areas and constantly updated kiosks that offer information on cemetery services and the locations of veterans who have been interred.
After her Navy service, Wanda Scott returned home to Parma and took a job at the M&W Market, where Bernie Pollard, a classmate from her days in Parma High School, worked as a meat cutter. Bernie and Wanda married in 1958 and celebrated their 57th birthday before Wanda died in 2015. She worked at M&W for 30 years and was responsible for the audit, and although she intended to retire, she continued to work there until the age of 80.
Wanda and Bernie were both active in the American Legion. After her death, Bernie recalled that Wanda was proud of her career in the Navy, adding: “She always said, ‘I wish I could have stayed another 20 years in the service.’ ‘
Julie Ellsworth is the Treasurer of the State of Idaho.