As Veteran’s Day approached, two women, neighbors on North Main Street in Mountaintop, reminisced this week about their time serving their country in World War II.
Kay Baluta, 93, recalled her time helping the war effort with a smile. She recited a poem she wrote for the holiday as well as several others; she often sends her poetry in to Veterans’ Voices magazine for publication.
Thelma Perkins, 95, sat before a table of old black-and-white photographs and memorabilia. Her daughter Peg related Thelma’s aid to her country proudly as Thelma gazed at a picture of her younger self in uniform.
It was the sight of the uniform that inspired Kay to join the Navy all those years ago, she recalled. She saw a woman walking in the street wearing Navy attire and asked her about it. The woman reported that she was part of the WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.
Having an unhappy childhood and looking for a way to leave home, Kay joined the Navy as soon as she was able. “When I was 21, I flew the coop,” she said. “God, I was so proud of that uniform.”
Thelma decided to join the service after her brother Jimmy was killed serving overseas, related Peg. “She was a volunteer. She decided to join to finish his term,” Peg said.
Thelma, who grew up in Ashley and went to school with Kay, was sent to work as a medic in Miami Beach, Florida. Working in the ear, nose, and throat department, Thelma physically checked all the servicemen before they were allowed to return to the United States.