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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

 

World War II Female Veteran

Shirley Mackin proudly displays her honorable discharge papers.

Shirley Mackin proudly displays her honorable discharge papers in her home on the Ashley River.

By Erin Curran, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"I was sworn in June 1, 1943 at the age of 20 into the United States Coast Guard."

Shirley Mackin is 92-years-old, a patient of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, and a female Veteran who served during World War II.

"Our team at the Trident VA Outpatient Clinic knows Ms. Mackin by her contagious laugh and welcoming smile she shares each and every visit," said VA Primary Care Physician Ann Hanlon, MD. "She always has such a bright and positive attitude."

As a young girl growing up on Lake Michigan, Mackin always new she had a love for being out on the water. So 72 years ago she went down to her local Milwaukee recruitment center and signed-up to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Mackin's first post was in Palm Beach, FL where the U.S. Coast Guard had set up in a local Hilton Hotel. She worked as a storekeeper in the payroll office since she had always liked figures and detested the thought of having to learn shorthand as a yeoman. Mackin's second and final post was in San Francisco where she met her husband, a yeoman in the Navy's submarine service.

"I remember that when we decided to get married-it was during the depression," said Mackin. "Everyone donated their sugar rationing coupons to buy us our wedding cake. We were married on December 11 at my family home on Lake Michigan."

Mackin was honorably discharged in January 1946. Her husband stayed in the Navy and so they continued to move and travel with their two children, Beverly and Thomas. In May 1959, Mackin's husband was stationed in Charleston, SC. After his passing in 1963, Mackin and her family moved back to Milwaukee, to Charleston, out to Colorado, and in the 1980s found her herself back in Charleston with her children and their families.

During her time in Charleston Mackin attended Trident Technical College where she studied horticulture. The home she now shares with daughter Beverly Green is full of beautiful plants of all shapes and sizes.

"She has a green thumb, I have a black one," said Green.

Their house sits on the Ashley River, on the water, right where Mackin always found herself so comfortable. Even on a 90 degree day in Charleston, she sits on her porch, admires the water, and tends to her plants.

As for Mackin's time in the U.S. Coast Guard, she reflects with fond memories and said, "I enjoyed the people, liked my job, and we always had a nice place to live. It was a good time in my life."

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