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The NYC Veterans Oral History Project: Edith Lazenby, Veteran Interview

July 18, 2013

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Edith Lazenby served in the Women’s Army Corp from 1963-1966. While in the service, Ms. Lazenby was stationed in Frankfurt and Munich, Germany. In this interview, recorded at the New York Public Library on July 18th, Ms. Lazenby discusses her time in the Signal Corps, where she worked decoding confidential messages. Much of her work is still confidential, but she recalls her experiences traveling in Germany, the skills she acquired in Basic Training, and how all of her peers learned to get along with each other. Ms. Lazenby was on flag duty at Basic Training when she heard the news that President Kennedy had been assassinated, and she talks about the grief that reverberated through the base and how it felt to lower the flag for him. Ms. Lazenby advises young people going into the Army, “Go in and make something of yourself. Come out, and help someone.”
Major Points in Interview
2:00 - Basic Training and getting along with people
3:55 - Description of teletype machine and signal school
7:45 - Transfer to Frankfurt, Germany
11:30 - Process for top secret clearances
12:55 - Extra curricular activities and sports in the Army
14:25 - Differences between Frankfurt and Munich
16:15 - Experiences of racial prejudice in the American South
19:31 - Everyone who joined was young, the Army forced them to grow up
20:00 - Skills learned in Basic Training, how to pass inspections
22:34 - Taking the Army oath made the whole experience seem real
27:24 - Talked someone out of suicide, who later went AWOL
30:34 - Had a job held for her until she finished service
32:36 - Advice to young people
33:49 - Tested to see if she adhered to top-secret protocols
36:33 - Didn't carry a gun, no women did
42:15 - Recounts marching songs
46:00 - Discussion of salary, buying bonds
48:55 - Served at the same time as her brother