TOPEKA, Kan. – Senator Jerry Moran is helping to introduce new legislation to honor the “Hello Girls” of World War I.
Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) says he and Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation to honor the service of the women that operated switchboards which connected communications for the American and French forces on the frontlines of World War I.
“Connecting more than 150,000 calls per day, and doing so six times faster than their male counterparts, female switchboard operators played a crucial role in WWI,” said Sen. Moran. “Despite their service, it took decades for them to receive veteran status and therefore be recognized as some of our nation’s first women veterans. This Congressional Gold Medal will serve as way to honor the trailblazing Hello Girls and recognize their important contributions to our history.”
According to Moran, the Hello Girls Congressional Gold Medal Act would award the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, or the Hello Girls, with the Congressional Gold Medal for their service and fight to be recognized as veterans.
“The Hello Girls were true patriots who answered America’s call to action by serving as crucial links between American and French forces on the front lines during World War I,” said Sen. Hassan. “These bilingual women are considered some of America’s first women soldiers, and I am proud to join efforts to award them with the Congressional Gold Medal to honor their brave and selfless service.”
Sen. Moran said the Hello Girls were recruited after male infantrymen struggled to connect calls quickly or communicate with their French partners. He said the bilingual women were deployed to France to serve at military headquarters and command outposts in the field beside American Expeditionary Forces. He said despite their outstanding service and the military oath they swore, they were denied veteran status and benefits upon their return home.
“I am so proud of my grandmother, Grace Banker, and the women of the Signal Corp with whom she served in WWI,” said Carolyn Timbie, granddaughter of Grace Banker, who was the Chief Operator of the Hello Girls. “They fought for 60 years to get their recognition as veterans, and I only wish my grandmother had lived to see this day. I’m excited knowing the world will now hear their story, with the distinction of a Congressional Gold Medal, along with the children, grandchildren and other descendants of these heroic women whose recognition is long-overdue!”