Service Branch: United States Navy Women Reserves [W.A.V.E.S.]
Rank at Separation: Seaman First Class
Combat Action: World War II Pacific
Home Town: Wilber
Military Specialty: Postal Operator and Mail Clerk
Unit: Fleet Post Office - San Francisco
Decorations, Citations, and Awards: - National Defense Service Medal
Few words in military life trigger more excitement and anticipation than those that herald a letter from home. In 1944 in the Pacific islands and aboard naval vessels of the U.S. 7th Fleet, there were no satellite phones, no Skype connections, no telephones of any kind…certainly, no e-mail or text messages. There were only letters – lovingly hand-written or painstakingly typewritten letters – letters from home, prayerfully sent in hope of reaching those fighting in WWII’s Pacific theater; and hastily written [censored] letters sent home from far-away, undisclosed fox-holes and map coordinates by sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers who had left their homes to protect and defend our homes. What’s that old Hallmark Card slogan? ”When you care enough to send the very best…” Well, so many times to so many places, America has cared enough to send her very best. It was Phyllis Schupbach’s solemn duty to ensure that letters from home found their intended G Is and that letters from the G Is found their way home.
Phyllis Greer was Wilber High School’s Class of 1941 Valedictorian and had been awarded a Regents’ Scholarship to the University of Nebraska. Unfortunately, the scholarship was only for one year, and she had to leave school to work for a year to save enough money to pay for another year of college. She found a good job with the FBI in Washington, DC and returned to the University for the Fall term of 1943. She earned a scholarship for that school year and secured a part-time secretarial job in the Registrar’s Office, but the Allies were pressing the enemy on two fronts: invading Normandy on D-Day and island-hopping across the Pacific. U.S. casualties in both theaters ballooned. The whole country was focused on the war effort, and Phyllis wanted to contribute more directly. She joined the U.S. Naval Women Reserves – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service [W.A.V.E.S.] Seaman Greer was assigned duty as a Postal Operator and Mail Clerk in the Navy’s Fleet Post Office [FPO] in San Francisco.
FPO San Francisco was choice stateside duty for sailors. Their families lived with them – in San Francisco, and they were safely tucked away from the risks and terrors of war…it didn’t get much better. However, the WAVES replaced the male sailors who, then, were reassigned aboard ships…warships. The sailors and their families weren’t all that enchanted with the WAVES’ arrival. They weren’t rude or obnoxious, but the WAVES’ reception was noticeably “cool,” and duty-related communications were short, to-the-point, and “…strictly by-the-book.” Phyllis was assigned to the FPO during the last year of the War in the Pacific and was honorably discharged a year early due to service-related injuries resulting from an on-duty accident. Because she had been hospitalized, she was spared from San Francisco’s riotous celebration of V-J Day that resulted in 11 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and over 1,000 arrests.
With her G I Bill education benefits, Phyllis returned to the University of Nebraska in 1946. This time while at the University, she met Paul Schupbach, a returning veteran of the War in Europe. They were married in 1946 and graduated together in 1949. Paul taught Speech and Broadcasting at NU for three years, transitioned into commercial broadcast television at KOLN-TV in Lincoln, and ultimately was instrumental in establishing KUON-TV, the University’s television affiliate of the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications network. Phyllis worked, raising her boys and teaching developmentally disabled young adults.
Widowed after 57 years of marriage, Phyllis lives in Lincoln and enjoys time with her three sons and their families of ten grandchildren and their families of seven great-grandchildren.