SIOUX CITY | When Roberta Pendleton earned Lt. Senior Grade with the U.S. Naval Reserve, she blacked out the words "Jr. Grade" on the nameplate that sat on her desk.
More than seven decades later, she still has the nameplate, a reminder of her military service.
Now 99, Pendleton winked and gave a knowing nod. "I was no longer Junior Grade," she said.
Roberta Pendleton, then known as Roberta Stock, carried a confidence into military service when she enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. The 1935 Central High School graduate had gone from Iowa State University, where she graduated in March 1940, to Chicago, immediately, in search of work.
After working for Sears and Roebuck for a couple of months, Pendleton found a better job as a proofreader with the U.S. Gypsum Co., of Northern Illinois, where she worked for two years, traveling throughout Illinois while adding duties that involved teaching classes in nutrition to school groups and women's clubs.
"Inasmuch as World War II was engulfing our country, our company services were changing and I felt the time had come to be more involved in the war effort," she said.
She signed with the U.S. Naval Reserve in the WAVES, which represented Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. She was sent to Smith College at Northampton, Massachusetts, to be trained as an officer in October 1942.
"We were enlisted as 'apprentice seamen' and after completing a month of indoctrination we were then reserve midshipmen in the Women's Reserve Midshipmen School," she said.
Training meant marching drills that covered three miles per day, marching to the mess hall, marching to class, marching to just about everywhere.
"Our Naval clothing included a smart-looking navy blue $25 uniform plus hat, plus raincoat, plus overcoat," she recalled, laughing about how she preferred the Navy's blues over the Army's browns.
Pendleton served as the commander of her company, which meant she made announcements, directed drills and communicated with other officers. Her commission as Ensign dated Dec. 31, 1942, included orders to proceed to a U.S. Naval yard at Washington, D.C., one attached to the U.S. Marine Corps.
"We were there to supplant some of the men officers as these men had to go to sea," she said, disclosing how she was soon working to code and decode military messages, exciting work, but duties that required her to fill one of three 8-hour shifts each day.
"Many were reports of shipments of munitions, ordnance parts and some were weather reports," she remembered. "Messages classified as SECRET or CONFIDENTIAL or PRIORITY were handled by officers only."
In September 1944, she requested a change of duty from her role in communications to the Bureau of Ordnance in the Ford Instrument Co., on Long Island, where a fellow WAVE had been transferred. "The hours were much better and I hoped to see a different aspect of the Navy as well as a new area -- New York City."
She was in New York City when the war ended. She recalled the "crammed" conditions of the celebration, a country ready to put four years of bloodshed and tears behind.
In August 1945, she was promoted to Lieutenant Senior Grade and remained the only WAVE assigned to a company at Sperry Gyroscope, serving in personnel as Naval Inspector of Civil Service employees' records. She resigned that November and was officially discharged from the Navy on Dec. 22, 1945.
She came home to Sioux City and landed a job working with World War II veterans at Morningside College, conducting psychometric testing.
"I did that for a year and then met Don Pendleton, an attorney who later became a judge," she said.
Don Pendleton, who died in 2005, had served with the FBI during World War II.
The couple married in August 1946 and raised five children in Sioux City, adults who now work and reside in Tennessee, Michigan, Washington, Des Moines and Sioux City.
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Kathleen Osterman does a plank in a studio at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon, Iowa. Osterman, a Vietnam War veteran who served as an operating room nurse in Da Nang, teaches yoga classes in Sheldon and Sibley, Iowa, where she resides. The Storm Lake, Iowa, native served 23½ years with the U.S. Army and Army Reserves.
Veteran Lois Wright walks her dogs, Rocco and Leah, in front of her rural Moville home in late October. Wright served in the U.S. Navy in information technology and is currently commander of the Wink-Sparks American Legion Post No. 303 in Moville, Iowa.
Veteran Lee Ann R. (Parker) Muilenburg works as a certified nursing assistant in the intensive care unit of Mercy Medical Center-Sioux Cit. Muilenburg enlisted in the army in 1981 when she was 17-years-old.
Veteran Angela Miller is shown at the USD Barnes & Noble bookstore that she manages on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. Miller served in the U.S. Army and comes from a military family, noting how she's an "Army brat, Army soldier, Army wife and Army mom."
Veteran Roberta Pendleton, 99, leans on her walker while sitting for a photo in her Sioux City apartment. Pendleton, whose maiden name was Stock, served as a Navy WAVE from 1942 to 1945 and left the service as a full lieutenant.
Army veteran Jen Steele rolls a bowling ball down a ramp at Regency Square, where she is employed as director of life enrichment. Steele enlisted at age 17 after seeing news footage of the 9/11 terror attacks and said leadership skills learned in the military made her able to do the job she has at the retirement community.
Army veteran Cynthia Aden handed out American flags along the parade route at a combined VFW and American Legion entry in the University of South Dakota's annual Dakota Days homecoming parade. Aden served in the Army from 1975 to 1978 and is Clay County, South Dakota's, veterans service officer.
Veteran Nadine Ruden clutches a Quilt of Valor in the sewing room of her rural Hinton, Iowa, home. Ruden estimates she's created about 20 quilts, but prizes the Quilt of Valor that a friend had made for her. Ruden served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve from 2008-2017 and was deployed to Germany for a year treating wounded soldiers.
Mapleton, Iowa Mayor Donna Shaw said her military uniform continue to her pride. A 21-year U.S. Navy veteran, she said all young people should spend at least one hitch in the military because it will teach them discipline, determination and the importance of teamwork.
Vera Varner, 84, co-owns a Pronto gas station in Ida Grove, Iowa. The Air Force veteran worked in the Pentagon in the 1950s as a teletype operator.
Molli Griffin, pictured in her classroom at Kingsley-Pierson High School, where she teaches biology and agriculture, served a one-year tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the Army Reserves. Griffin, who discharged from the Reserves this summer after 15 years of service, is raising a puppy for Partners for Patriots, an organization that provides service dogs for disabled veterans.
Army veteran Ranae Reed plays with Valentine, her 11-year-old German shorthair dog, at her home in Sioux City. Dogs were an important part of her service while deployed in the DMZ in Korea -- both as companions and as unofficial guard dogs. Reed served from 1980 to 1995 as a nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist.
Navy veteran Marjorie Culligan is shown with her poodle, Allie, during an interview in her Sheldon, Iowa. Culligan, 93, is a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea.
Lynette Kiger left her hometown of Akron in 1975 to join the U.S. Air Force, which provided her with an abundance of opportunities she wouldn't have had otherwise. She returned home in 2014 and joined Akron EMS, a volunteer ambulance service that serves the town of nearly 1,500, and became the group's director in 2016.
U.S. Coast Guard veteran Mary Lou Guthridge, of Moville, Iowa, is shown with her motorcycle on Oct. 4 at Stone State Park in Sioux City. Guthridge is an American Legion chaplain and Legion Rider. She was one of the veterans featured in the "Women in the Military" exhibit that is retired Wednesday in a reception at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City.
Veteran Virgina Linneman helps residents play Uno on Friday at Pleasant Acres Care Center in Hull, Iowa. Linneman, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, keeps active in the community though the Sioux County Veterans Affairs Commission and by volunteering at the care facility.
Veteran Brenda Miller at her rural Hinton, Iowa, farm. Miller served in Saudi Arabia when her U.S. Army reserve unit was activated. She is currently the chairwoman of the Plymouth County Veterans Affairs Commission and has served as a poultry superintendent at the Plymouth County Fair.
A runner and a walker of the nature trails that surround her Sergeant Bluff home, Woodbury County Commission of Veteran Affairs executive director Danielle Dempster said her own stint in the U.S. Army was just the beginning of her service to fellow veterans.
Veteran Margaret Jessen talks about her service as a Marine during World War II. Bored living in Homer, Neb., after her high school graduation, Jessen said she enlisted in 1944 because she "wanted the action."
Vicki De Witt, a retired member of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, is shown in her home near Lawton, Iowa on Wednesday. De Witt served in the Army Reserves and Air National Guard during a military career that spanned 31 years.
World War II veteran Claire O'Brien sits in her Sioux City home on Thursday. O'Brien, 95, logged more than 2 years, 6 months of service after enlisting with the U.S. Naval Reserves W.A.V.E.S., which represents Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. After the war, O'Brien returned to college and spent her career as a high school teacher and counselor.
Roberta, a grandmother to four and a great-grandmother to five, occasionally gave talks to civic groups about her work during World War II. She said she enjoyed every aspect of her Navy "career."
"All the offices I worked in were congenial places with no dangerous experiences and interesting personnel," she noted. "It was a fascinating world in Washington, D.C., and in New York City at that time. I never suffered in any way and I hope I helped my country in some way in those war years."
When asked if she ever joined the American Legion, Pendleton smiled and shook her head. "I didn't join the American Legion," the mother of five said. "I had a legion at home."