In 1943 artist Francis V. Kughler, Hudson River Museum Director H. Armour Smith and Women’s Army Corps recruiter Joanne Coates conceived a plan to encourage women of Yonkers to enlist in the army and honor their contribution. Every Yonkers woman who joined the WACs would have her portrait made in oil or pastel by Kughler.
Marguerite Chase, like a few of the other Yonkers WACs, first worked at GM Eastern Aircraft in Tarrytown. But, a year after her brothers joined the armed forces, she “just wasn’t content to be safe at home working in an aircraft plant.”
She joined the WAC in January 1944, and became known as “a girl with a star-spangled heart.” She was assigned to Douglas Army Air Field, where she inspected B25 Mitchell bombers used in training. The Herald Statesman ran an article about Chase, with a photograph of her inspecting an airplane window.
Civil Rights were at a crossroads in the armed forces of World War II. Many aspects of living quarters and assignments were still segregated, yet the Army made an effort to recruit African American women and gave them many opportunities and rewards not yet offered in the civilian world.