ISS1 2015

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 17 of 63

Coast Guardsmen Help SPAR Celebrates Her 100th On November 4, 2014, Mrs. Mabel Eleanor Johnson, a WWII member of the U.S. Coast Guard Womens Reserve, better known by their nickname "SPARs" (an acronym for the Coast Guard's motto, "Semper Paratus - Always Ready"), celebrated her 100th birthday with her family and members of the Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center in Topeka, Kan. She also celebrated the day by exercising her right to vote - an especially meaningful event for her, as she worked at the New York City voting polls in the 1940's. Mabel was one of five children born to Norwegian immigrants who insisted their children embrace their newly adopted culture by only speaking English in their home. Despite the loss of one of her siblings to the measles and the death of her father when she was only 13, her family's fortitude and fighting spirit forged on. Mabel's mother supported the family by working as a domestic employee and the children were also expected to contribute by working in order to keep their family together. Mabel's strong family values and dedication to hard work led her to attend secretarial school and upon her graduation she was hired by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Her two older brothers pursued government careers - one built destroyer escorts and liberty ships for the U. S. Navy, and the other became a naval architect for the Army Material Command designing New York harbor ferries. Joining her brothers' spirit of public service at the onset of U. S. involvement in World War II, Mabel answered the call to join the fight. While working in New York City, she wasn't sure which branch to join so she decided to walk down Broadway Avenue and entered the first recruiting office she encountered. Fortunately, she chose the Coast Guard and enlisted in October 1943. Shortly after enlisting, she attended boot camp in Palm Beach, Fla., and then enrolled in Storekeeper School. Upon graduating from the training program, she was transferred to Cleveland, Ohio where she worked in the payroll and supply division which supported the Coast Guardsmen of the Great Lakes. While stationed in Cleveland, Mabel was offered a transfer to the Hawaiian Islands but was swayed to not pursue the opportunity by her future husband Ken. Mabel and Ken were married in March 1945 while he was serving as a Merchant Mariner at his homeport in New York City. During this time, servicemen and women were required to wear their uniforms at all times. Mabel needed to request special authorization to wear her wedding gown for the marriage ceremony. Mabel eventually moved to New York to be with Ken after she found a SPAR there who shared a comparable job description and duties and was willing to transfer to Cleveland. Mabel faithfully served her country until May 18, 1946 when she was honorably discharged. Mabel's husband Ken passed away after 50 years of marriage. She currently resides with her daughter, Elizabeth in Olathe, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. She also has two sons, Gary and Ken, nine grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. — Story by YNC Morgan Ferrer, Photos by Mr. Jeff Guerrero SPAR Mabel Johnson's 100th birthday celebration from left to right, Master Chief eric norris, IT2 Christopher Sundeen, Captain Stuart Lebruska, Ms. Mabel Johnson, Mr. Gary earling, LCDR David Gomez, Ms. Katheline Benjamin, Mr. Bill Fox, Ms. Debra Farley, and Mr. Bob Teetsel. 16 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2015

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