MY MARRIAGE OVERSEAS

Sometime in the Fall of 1944, I met Paul -- Paul Vance, who was stationed at Naples, Italy with the 90th Air Depot Group. It happened this way. Joan Seavey and I saw a notice on our Company Bulletin Board, inviting any W.A.A.C. from our Company to attend the Sunday Services at the Air Force Base, so Joan and I attended one Sunday. The Chaplain, Captain Tilford Junkins, would send a vehicle to pick up anyone who wished to attend. Later, Helen Crowell and I were asked to sing in the services. Also, I believe Myra Barnaby sang. At first, Sgt. McGovern would pick us up, but one Sunday, the Chaplain sent his Assistant, who was Paul, to get us. Well, it didn't take long for Paul and me to become acquainted and we started taking sight seeing trips together on our days off. Chaplain Junkins was very kind about letting Paul have the jeep, and sometimes he went with us. On October 29, 1944, I wrote home to my family that I was engaged to Paul. We were married the following July 4, 1945, but not without some moments of anxiety. We had to first apply in writing to our respective Commanding Officers, then they in turn had to apply to other upper echelons and it took months before we learned that the Army was going to approve our application to marry. The story that was sent back home to my home town newspaper stated that "Wac Sgt. Virginia L. Seale was married to Cpl. Paul C. Vance of Columbus, Ohio, at Capodichino Airport -- at the base Chapel -- near Naples, Italy. Warrant Officer Aileen Stegall was Maid of Honor and Sgt. Johnny Boyle was best man."

Our wedding rings had been made from a United States half-dollar and a quarter sent to me by my mother. These we had taken to an Italian who had melted them down into a wedding band for each of us. Inside my ring was engraved "V. L. Seale 1944 Naples." Paul's ring read "Paul C. Vance 1944 Naples." Jewelry was not easy to obtain in Italy during the War and we didn't have any money to spend on rings anyway. Since we were not married until the following summer we wore these rings around our necks on our dog tags. I did have an engagement ring which was an inexpensive zircon in a very inexpensive setting. We weren't interested in the monetary value of the ring just in its symbolism of our engagement.

I remember that flowers weren't easy to obtain and that Paul went out very early on the morning of our wedding and bought some gladiolas and carnations, so that Aileen and I both had a bouquet of flowers to carry. We both wore our dress uniforms. The expense of my wedding was practically "nil;" in fact, instead of our leaving a gratuity for the Chaplain, he put $5.00 in an envelope for us to spend on the Isle of Capri, where we spent our honeymoon.

On the Isle of Capri, we stayed in the Villa Chiano. Chiano was Mussolini's son-in-law and this was their villa before the U. S. Army took over the Island for R & R, Rest and Relaxation for the armed forces. We were assigned meal tickets at a nearby building that had been a hotel. These were good for our lunch and evening meals. In the mornings we had a married couple, Ana and Costanzo, serve our breakfast in the dining room of the Villa. As I recall, it was a hearty breakfast consisting of oatmeal every morning, among other things. During the day we toured the Island, went down the other side of the island to the Blue Grotto. We had access to a kayak. Wearing swim suits, Paul and I sat in the two holes with our feet beneath with the deck of the kayak right at our waists. We each had oars and paddled around in the open waters for awhile before entering the Blue Grotto. I thought when I married Paul I knew everything about him. However, he had failed to tell me that he didn't know how to swim and we were in water well above our heads. I stood up in the kayak and dove over the side into the Mediterranean. When I came to the surface, Paul was as white as a sheet. I almost lost my dear husband on our honeymoon. I wasn't aware that when I dove over the side, it rocked the kayak from side to side until he feared it was going to turn over. I did crawl back in and we paddled toward the Grotto entrance - a little hole that we had to duck through. Inside the waters were very, very blue. The beauty is indescribable and the silence, memorable..

ROTATION HOME

After serving in the U. S. Army for two and a half years, two of them spent overseas, it was a happy event when at last it was time for me to rotate back to the United States. I kept thinking of ice cream sundaes, hamburgers and civilian clothes, to name a few things that would be available. I think I remember saying I was going to buy the biggest banana split I could find, when I arrived stateside. On September 24, 1945 I was among the 557 Wacs to board the Vulcania to sail from Naples back to the East Coast of the good old U.S.A. On board also were 300 nurses and 3,200 U.S. Army officers and enlisted men. I really don't remember much about the trip back home, except that Paul reached home before I did, even though we were discharged within a day of one another. His discharge came at Camp Atterbury, Indiana on October 12, 1945 and mine at Camp Beale, California on October 13, 1945. When I arrived back home in Pasadena, California, he had already been there several days with my parents, having met them for the first time.

I stopped over on the way home in Oakland where Emily was stationed in the Navy. We took a train from San Francisco to Los Angeles where we were met by my family. Emily was able to get a few days off to accompany me home.

My younger sister was going to Pasadena Junior College and living at home and had fixed her room up for Paul and me to use. She stayed with a friend so that we could have her room. One of the signs above the headboard on the wall was a Stop sign that she and her friends had confiscated. She thought that was a big joke to put that at the head of the bed where we would be sleeping.