Yeoman Second Class Nellie Baerg
CN Salutes Yeoman Second Class Nellie Baerg. Baerg came from a small town area near Frazer Montana, an Indian town. She was number nine of ten children. Baerg had spent a year assistant teaching when a teacher suggested she take the Civil Service Exam. She passed and went to work for the Dept. of Commerce in Washington DC. She then decided to sign up for the Navy.
What were your duties?
As Yeoman Second Class, I was communications, working on teletype machines. I was required to send and receive coded messages. I served from 1944-1946.
What did you like most about serving?
Maybe it was because I grew up on a dirt farm but I loved the people. I met so many different people from every walk of life. I made some long lasting friendships.
What prompted you to serve?
I had heard they need communication officers and I wanted to go overseas. There was a war going on and I wanted to do my part. It didn’t turn out exactly like I had hoped. I took a cut in pay, lived in the barracks and had to get up early every morning to exercise. But it was still a good experience.
I was also impressed by the Dollar a Year Men who served. They were rich men who gave of their time to serve in the war efforts and they only took one dollar a year. I met them during my Civil Service days.
What were some of the greatest challenges you faced?
The greatest challenge was you had to be very accurate when using the teletype machines. Sometimes pressures from our superiors were difficult when they became impatient. It was also difficult at times to sleep hoping the code had been accurate.
A more light hearted challenge, Gone With the Wind had just been published. There was only one book and several of us girls wanted to read it. The book passed around barracks late at night. I got caught once reading it after lights out.
What was the most rewarding experience?
Again, the most rewarding experience would have to be all the people I met and the places I saw.
One of my friends was from Brooklyn, New York and she’d take me home with her when she went home to see her parents.
Even though I didn’t go overseas, I loved seeing Washington DC and surrounding areas. Every Sunday, we would pick a new place to explore.
What was the training and prep for your MOS?
My basic training took place at Hunters College. Our training where we learned code and the teletype machines took place in Iowa.
How did serving affect your family? Did they find their part of service rewarding?
I was 9 of ten children and my mother died when I was young. We all took on responsibility early and became independent fast. I was closest to my youngest sister. Everybody did what they had to do. Two of my brothers were already in the Navy by the time I was.
What is your advice to someone thinking about serving their country?
Don’t go into it for the fun of it. Join because you can contribute something. Really make a difference.
How was serving as a woman different from a man in the 1940’s and 50’s?
Some of us women resented that we got stuck in an office in DC when we could have been just as useful in the field someplace.
THANK YOU YEOMAN SECOND CLASS BAERG FOR YOUR SERVICE!
World War II Teletype Machines
A teleprinter (teletypewriter, Teletype or TTY) is an electromechanical typewriter that can be used to send and receive typed messages from point to point and point to multipoint over various types of communications channels. They were adapted to provide a text-based user interface to early mainframe computers and minicomputers, sending typed data to the computer with or without printed output, and printing the response from the computer.