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Woman receives honors for WAVE service

A Hibbing woman who didn't let her flat feet keep her out of the Women Accepted Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES) during World War II is remembered Friday at a flag-raising ceremony at the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center.

A Hibbing woman who didn't let her flat feet keep her out of the Women Accepted Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES) during World War II is remembered Friday at a flag-raising ceremony at the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center.

Virginia Ann (Hocking) Segler was born in Carson Lakes, Minn., and grew up in Hibbing. After jobs working in her parents' company, Hocking Grocery and Confectionery Store, picking rocks at a mine and sewing for Singer, she chose to join the U.S. Navy. Her parents didn't support her choice, but Segler was determined.

"I just can't stay here and do nothing," she wrote in her diary on Oct. 30, 1944. "I would like to think that I'm doing something little to win the war."

Segler had already shown her patriotism at the age of 19 when she moved to Hollywood, Calif., to wire bomb control panels at Douglas Aircraft. She showed the same determination nearly two years later when it came time for the required physical exam.

"I know I wouldn't pass the physical with my feet being so flat, so I balanced on the sides of my feet," she wrote in her diary on Nov. 6, 1944. "They didn't notice because I signed lots of papers and was sworn in ... I am now a WAVE!"

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Segler served as a Navy Seaman First Class from 1944-46 with the WAVES. The Hibbing woman spent eight weeks at Hunter's College in New York before moving on to basic training.

She spent that Christmas away from home.

"Last night all I could do was cry, I was so lonesome ... everyone was," she wrote in her diary on Dec. 25, 1944.

Five days later, she wrote, "My prayers are for my brother and all the other boys overseas and for my mom. Anyone that says boot camp is easy is crazy ..."

She went on to serve in the aviation branch of the Navy at The U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base in Illinois.

There, Segler refused to take an office job. Instead, she worked with fabrics and the stabilizer machine. The Hibbing woman planned to serving overseas, but the war ended before she could.

Segler earned the American Campaign and World War II Victory Ribbons for her service.

She went on to marry a boy she had once danced with and written to for six years. Shortly after her marriage to Richard Coleman of Duluth, she was granted an honorable discharge.

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The Hibbing woman raised seven children and was known as a devoted mother and grandmother. Her husband preceded her in death, and she married Floyd Segler in 1973.

Throughout her life, Segler remained proud of her Naval service. She held her first paycheck of $221 for a few minutes before $168.41 was taken out for her uniform, the same one in which she was buried. She died on Dec. 7 at the Middle River Health and Rehabilitation Center in Hawthorne, surrounded by her family.

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