WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, recently joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues in introducing the Hello Girls Congressional Gold Medal Act to honor the groundbreaking service of the women who served as telephone operators during World War I, and who were crucial in connecting American and French forces on the front lines. Carolyn Timbie of Atkinson, the granddaughter of Grace Banker, who served as Chief Operator of the U.S. Army Signal Corps – also known as the Hello Girls – recently spoke with local media outlets about the importance of recognizing the Hello Girls for their brave service.
See below for coverage highlights:
By Madeline Hughes
As she was helping her parents move from their home a decade ago, Carolyn Timbie of Atkinson stumbled upon what she calls “an amazing treasure trove” of items from World War I.
They included a helmet, a gas mask, uniforms, letters, artillery shells and a clip of ammunition — all things her grandmother had saved from her time at the front lines of the war.
Timbie’s grandmother Grace Banker was the chief operator of the U.S. Army Signal Corps women telephone operators. The Signal Corps is a branch of the American military that manages communications for combined armed forces, such as the U.S. Army working with a military group from another country.
Banker died three years before Timbie was born. Now, about 60 years after the death, Timbie is connecting with her grandmother in a special way. She is helping historians and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan understand the work done by Signal Corps women during the war, when they became known as the Hello Girls.
“It’s 100 years later. They should get the full recognition,'' Timbie said of her hope that Banker and other Signal Corps women are eventually honored with medals for their military service. “Still today, we have women who have to work extra hard for recognition, and so many women identify with this story.”
Hassan and a bipartisan group of senators are working to recognize Banker and her fellow Signal Corps women with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor given by Congress.
“Grace Banker and the other Hello Girls were true patriots who answered America’s call to action by serving as crucial links between American and French forces on the front lines during World War I,” Hassan said, pointing to the women's “brave and selfless service.”
[...] As she digs into the past and helps the Congressional Gold Medal effort led by Hassan, D-New Hampshire, Timbie feels even closer to her mother and grandmother. Banker would be “smiling down” to know members of Congress are working to honor the military phone operators, Timbie said, explaining that her grandmother’s war letters focused on the team effort at the battlefront.
Banker did receive the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919, but it recognized her service only, not her team's efforts. That medal is presented by the U.S. Army for exceptional service in a duty of great responsibility.
[...] Banker’s letter about her group of "First Army girls'' was published in 1974 in Yankee Magazine after her death and as Signal Corps members were seeking recognition as military veterans. In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter recognized the Hello Girls as veterans of the military.
By Karyn Regal
An Atkinson, N.H. woman is working to make sure her grandmother and other World War I veterans are not forgotten.
Carolyn Timbie’s grandmother, Grace Banker, was one of the ‘Hello Girls’ in WWI. They were switchboard operators who were stationed near the front in France during the war. But, they were not recognized as soldiers until decades later.
Banker was the Chief Operator of the U.S. Signal Corps’ women telephone operators, and worked under General John J. Pershing.
Timbie never met Banker, but has gone through her papers and memories, and is working to preserve her history. She wants Banker, and her fellow veterans, honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. Timbie is working with historians and Sen. Maggie Hassan’s Office to make that happen.
“They waited for many years, and we just feel they are a very important part of women’s history and certainly are role models for women today,” Timbie said.
Banker was posthumously recognized as a veteran by the government she served in the 1970s.