Sullivan Recognizes Elverda Lincoln as “Alaskan of the Week”
WASHINGTON—On the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday, Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) recognized Elverda Lincoln, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II from Wasilla, Alaska who will soon celebrate her 100th birthday. In 1942, in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elverda joined the Navy with theWomen Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program. Among other responsibilities, Elverda helped code radio signals and manuals that were used in the Battle of Iwo Jima and during the invasion of the Aleutian Islands by Japan. After the war, in 1950, Elverda and her husband, Bob, a U.S. Marine, came up to Alaska and settled on a homestead in the Matanuska Valley. Elverda now resides at the Wasilla Senior Center where she quilts for many charities, including Quilts of Valor and Children’s Place. Elverda was recognized as part of Sen. Sullivan’s series, “Alaskan of the Week.”
Tribute to Elverda Lincoln
SENATOR SULLIVAN: Mr. President, it is my favorite time of the week here in the U.S. Senate. I like to come down on a regular basis and talk about the Alaskan of the Week. The Alaskan of the Week can be someone who is doing something great for their local community, their State, their country. Maybe it is someone who is helping to actually save the world. That is who we have today--someone who literally helped to save the world.
Before we begin, I know we have some Alaskans in the Galleries here. Today, the Boys & Girls Club is in town, and we have some of our great, young leaders from my State who are here, and I am really glad to see them. It is appropriate, I think, as some of the Boys & Girls Clubs' awardees can probably be Alaskans of the Week soon, right?
But I always like to begin my Alaskan of the Week remarks by just giving a little update of what is going on back home in Alaska. We are having a great summer. It is actually a really cold summer for us. The Sun is high in the sky. People are fishing. Tourists are flocking to our State.
By the way, if you are watching on TV, come up to Alaska, and you will have the best vacation of a lifetime, I guarantee it. The midnight Sun is out, and the scenery is spectacular. Of course, we are a place of big skies, big places, a big ocean, big rivers, some of the most resilient, interesting, special people in the world, and some of the most patriotic. We have more veterans per capita than any State in the country.
I have the pleasure of frequently speaking about our veterans in Alaska, about our military in Alaska. Many of them have been honored by being Alaskans of the Week. That is going to happen again today with a very special veteran, Elverda Lincoln.
So let's talk a little bit about our Alaskan of the Week. She served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. And I am going to talk a little bit about a program, the WAVES Program. It is a very famous program, the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. That is the acronym, WAVES.
Elverda is a World War II vet, an Alaskan pioneer literally. She is an author, a mother, a grandmother, a great-great-grandmother. She has such an amazing story, and here is the deal: She is turning 100 in a couple of days--100--and is still going strong.
So let me spend a few minutes talking about this extraordinary woman who is such an inspiration to so many in Alaska and hopefully, after millions of Americans listen to this speech, to so many Americans across the country.
Elverda was born in 1923 in Minnesota as the oldest of 14 kids. She was about 6 years old when the Great Depression began. Of course, it was a very tough time for most Americans. In her words, there was no work. Her family literally did not know where the next meal was coming from. They ate a lot of soup, she said, and when there was not enough to go around for the 14 kids her parents had to take care of, they just added water to the soup. They were tough times, but she and her family survived.
She said, “We,” like so many other Americans, “were all in the same boat.”
After graduating from high school, Elverda worked for some time in Washington State, from working in a fruit cannery to waitressing, but none of these jobs gave her a sense of fulfillment or adventure or satisfaction.
Then December 7, 1941, happened, and our great Nation was at war. So what did this young woman do? She said she noticed a huge sign in her local post office. You know what the sign was--one of the most famous recruiting posters ever. It was Uncle Sam literally pointing at her. Every day, she said she walked past that sign that said: “I WANT YOU.” She was a patriot, so eventually Elverda heeded Uncle Sam's call, and she joined the Navy--like I said, the WAVES Program. She was soon on a train to New York and on a journey then that took her across the country--a 5-day train ride.
The WAVES Program was set up in 1942 by President Roosevelt to free up positions primarily stateside but very important positions. You are going to hear about what Elverda actually did for her country and the Navy so that male sailors could deploy overseas.
So she got on a plane with eight other women who had also joined WAVES. They had to take turns sleeping on the floor of the lavatory for 5 days because there were no assigned seats on this train going across our great Nation.
There were 4 weeks of boot camp--tough duty--from 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day for 4 weeks straight.
When she completed boot camp, Elverda was filled with a sense of accomplishment and patriotism. She had done something hard, something fulfilling, something worthwhile. Beyond that, she felt connected with her fellow WAVES. These were sailors in the U.S. Navy, women sailors. Then, of course, she was connected with probably one of the most important causes our country has ever undertaken--to win World War II and free the world from tyranny and oppression.
Her confidence soared, she said, when she received her Navy uniform and her $50-per-month paycheck--a lot of money back then. She was first stationed in Seattle. Get this: Her job was to keep track of the exact locations of U.S. ships and enemy ships and planes throughout the Pacific. She then was transferred to Tongue Point Naval Air Station in Astoria, OR. At this point, of course, the Pacific theatre--the war in the Pacific--was in full force.
She aided in modifying, updating, and correcting naval communications manuals. She helped to code a great deal of radio signals and manuals that were used in battles like the Battle of Iwo Jima and were also used in the invasion of the Aleutian Islands by Japan. A lot of people don't know that Alaska was actually invaded by the forces of Imperial Japan and occupied in the Aleutian Islands. Our military had to go fight brutal battles in the Aleutian Islands to kick out the Japanese on American territory, our great State.
It was only after the war that Elverda realized the great importance of what she had done. Like I said, she is an Alaskan of the Week who helped save the world--literally helped save the world.
She saw her time in the Navy as a great transition in her life, where she found out what hard work and dedication and patriotism were all about. And, importantly, she also met her husband, Bob Lincoln, a U.S. marine--so we know Elverda has very good taste by marrying a U.S. marine--while he was stationed in Oregon.
Both Elverda and Bob wanted to live a continued life of adventure and travel, so after the war in 1950, with one child already born and another one on the way, they packed up their car, and they drove north to the great State of Alaska. Now, it wasn't a State back then. It was still a territory, but you get the picture. They wanted an Alaskan adventure, and they got it. They settled in the Matanuska Valley in the town of Wasilla on a homestead.
Elverda and her husband Bob added to Wasilla's population, which, back then, was 100 people. It is much bigger today. They felled trees. They built a cabin. They built a life. They raised three wonderful kids. Bob did everything from dairy farming to putting up telephone lines to being a butcher. And, of course, they fell in love with Alaska.
“It's like one big family,” Elverda said. “Our friends range from the preachers to the alcoholics and everybody in between.”
Eventually, Elverda began to write about her life in Alaska--some funny and some very serious stories about life on the homestead in the Last Frontier. She has written four books so far; and talking to her, you have no doubt that she has at least four more in her.
Unfortunately, her husband, Bob, passed away. But before he did, he and Elverda traveled the world, something that she continued to do until recently.
Elverda now lives in the senior center in Wasilla, and she stays busy. She walks every day. She quilts for charities, including Quilts of Valor and quilts for Children's Place. During COVID, she made masks.
She has 5 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren. In her hundred years of life--hundred years of wisdom--Elverda attributes her longevity to the following--and this is a great lesson for everybody: living healthy, staying active, being positive, and staying out of other people's business.
“I've loved every minute of my life,” Elverda recently said. And what a life it has been.
So, Elverda, thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for your service in the U.S. Navy in WAVES, to the great State of Alaska, and to Wasilla. Thank you for being such a positive inspiration for so many. Happy hundredth birthday from the U.S. Senate. And, of course, congratulations on the great honor of being our Alaskan of the Week.
I yield the floor.
PRESIDING OFFICER: The Senator from Rhode Island.
SENATOR SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-R.I.): Mr. President, I always consider it good fortune when I come to deliver remarks on the Senate floor and get to follow Senator Sullivan's Alaskan of the Week speeches.
His discussion of his constituent Elverda reminds me of a very, very dear person in my life, Florence Kerins Murray, born just a little bit ahead of Elverda--1916--but like Elverda, served in the U.S. military. She was a WAC--Women's Army Corps--lieutenant colonel and then broke, essentially, every glass ceiling you could break in Rhode Island politics and in the Rhode Island judiciary, becoming a very respected Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice.
So I will take the liberty of joining my colleague Senator Sullivan in wishing his constituent a happy birthday, but I also wanted to share the memory of a very dear Rhode Islander who I think would have gotten along very well--I would like to be a witness, a fly on the wall, to
the conversation between Florence and Elverda.
PRESIDING OFFICER: The Senator from Alaska.
SULLIVAN: To my friend and colleague from Rhode Island, I will gladly pass along your birthday greetings to Elverda. Thank you very
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