Woman's Red Cross World War II service honored
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) talks with Margo Harrington, 96, of Rye, who served as an American Red Cross Clubmobile volunteer for two years during World War II, serving on the front lines in the European theater. Shaheen presented Harrington with a resolution from the U.S. Senate regarding the volunteer service of women in the war as Clubmobile volunteers. (GRETYL MACALASTER PHOTO)
This revelation would bring her to the European theater of World War II, where she delivered coffee, doughnuts, music and a morale boost to the young men serving until the end of the war in 1945.
A yellowed scrapbook full of black and white photos, taken by Harrington and friends, and culled from magazines, help tell the story of the American Red Cross Clubmobile volunteers, and the war.
She was in London on R & R when the city was shelled. She was in continental Europe just a month after D-Day and remembers landing at Omaha Beach.
But few people know about the service of the Red Cross Clubmobile volunteers, Harrington, 96, told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Friday.
Shaheen did not know about the Clubmobile until a few months ago when her office was contacted by Marga Coulp, Harrington's hairdresser of 38 years. Coulp realized her client had a real story to tell and thought her service should be honored.
On Thursday, Harrington's 96th birthday, a resolution was passed in the United States Senate in recognition of Harrington and the Clubmobile volunteers. Shaheen presented the resolution to Harrington on Friday.
Harrington also received a plaque from representatives of the local Red Cross commemorating her service.
“Often the women who served were not recognized in the same way as the men, so I think it's important to remember these stories and what they did,” Shaheen said.
During Shaheen's visit, Harrington's daughter, Melissa Leavy showed the Clubmobile jackets her mother wore that Leavy and her brother would dress up in as children.
The outside of one is tan and plain, but the inside is a mosaic of patches from the many military units Harrington served.
The patches were put inside the jacket as the women were not allowed to put anything on the outside that would indicate where they had been, or where certain troops were located.
“It was nice and warm,” Harrington said. “And it got cold over there.”
Harrington said coming back from the war was difficult, especially trying to find work. She eventually drove cross-country from New York to California where she met her husband, a native of Manchester. The two soon returned to New Hampshire, where they spent 40 years in New Castle and raised their family.
Leavy said her father, Bill, was in the U.S. Navy during World War II and would often tell people that his wife had seen a lot more of the war than he had.
In total, more than 50 Clubmobile volunteers died during the war, but Harrington said not all of them were killed in the line of duty.
Harrington said she knows of only one other surviving Clubmobile volunteer in Florida.
A Billerica, Mass., man, Manny Rogers, is working on the restoration of a Clubmobile, and is hoping to soon get Harrington into it.
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