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LCDR McAfee while director of the WAVES

Mildred Helen McAfee Horton (May 12, 1900 - September 2, 1994) was an American academic who served during World War II as first director of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in the United States Navy.

Early life[edit | edit source]

McAfee was born in Parkville, Missouri, the daughter of the Rev. Cleland Boyd McAfee and Harriet Brown. She graduated from Vassar College and received her Master's degree from the University of Chicago. She was dean of women at Centre College and then dean of women at Oberlin College. In 1936 she became president of Wellesley College at the age of 36.

Military service[edit | edit source]

During World War II, McAfee took a leave of absence from Wellesley to direct the newly formed WAVES, a force that eventually numbered more than 80,000 women, both enlisted and officer. The Women's Reserve (WR) was created when President Roosevelt signed the authorizing legislation into law on July 30, 1942. McAfee was commissioned as a lieutenant commander the following week, on August 3, and quickly set down rules for enlisted women, including that they use only enough make-up "to look human".[1] With others, she campaigned for WAVES to have the same pay and benefits as their male counterparts. These efforts resulted in Public Law 183, effective on November 9, 1943, which entitled all WR personnel the allowances and benefits available to men. It also provided for one captain in the Women's Reserve; Lieutenant Commander McAfee was promoted to captain later that same month.[2] During the peak of World War II, Captain McAfee commanded 82,000 women.[3]

After the war, McAfee resigned from the Naval Reserve. She was the first woman to receive the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, presented to her by Navy Secretary Forrestal on November 7, 1945.[4] She also received the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Personal life and death[edit | edit source]

In August,1945 she married the Reverend Dr. Douglas Horton (d. 1968), the dean of the divinity school at Harvard University.

McAfee Hall at Wellesley is named in her honor, as is Horton Hall at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). She was President of the UNH Board of Trustees, serving on the Board from 1963 to 1974. She died in Berlin, New Hampshire at the age of 94.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Current Biography 1941, pp539-41
  2. "History of the Navy Reserve", TNR - The Navy Reserve, March 2011, p12
  3. "Deaths," Ironwood Daily Globe, September 6, 1994, p11
  4. "WAVE Director Presented Award", Reno Evening Gazette, November 7, 1945, p1
  • Obituary, Boston Globe, September 3, 1994
  • Notable American women : a biographical dictionary completing the twentieth century . Susan Ware, editor ; Stacy Braukman, assistant editor, Harvard University Press, 2004, 768 pages. ISBN 978-0-674-01488-6 .

External links[edit | edit source]

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