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Honoring Our Heroes

Petty Officer Third Class Peggy Holley: Age 100

Petty Officer Third Class (PO3) Peggy Holley served three years and 16 days in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES) in the U.S. Navy. The WAVES were created during WWII to free up male personnel for sea duty. Her final MOS was Petty Officer (PO3) having been promoted from Apprentice Seaman, Seaman 2nd Class, Seaman First Class and Mailman 3rd Class which is a Petty Officer.

She was born December 13, 1922 in Butler County, AL, to her parents, Joseph and Otie Mae Murphy. She was reared in rural Butler County, and after the family moved to Montgomery, AL, she graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1940. She then worked at the Montgomery Fair, a department store in Montgomery, AL, in the basement department where overalls were sold.

PO3 Holley volunteered and joined the U.S. Navy WAVES January 26, 1943 reporting for duty at Birmingham, AL. She entered active service February 16, 1943, and she completed three months of Basic Training at Iowa State College at Cedar Falls, Iowa. After Boot Camp, she was assigned to Naval Air Station at Atlanta, GA, for clerical work maintaining the manuals of the Navy pilots who were being trained for instrument flying service in WWII. Training some 3,000 pilots and over 4,000 instructors, NAS supported the vase expansion of naval aviation that probed decisive in the Pacific War against Japan. PO3 Holley states, “I learned about people serving in the Navy. I had grown up in a rural area. The Navy pilots were extremely careful about using the manuals for instrument flying, and I was responsible for updating the data in the manuals. I met some interesting people.”

After discharge from the Navy February 11, 1946, PO3 Holley returned to Montgomery, AL, married Richard Taylor Holley, and they were married for 63 years. Richard served in the Infantry in the U.S. Army for 30 years including service in WWII and in the Korean War. He earned a Bronze Star for service in Papua New Guinea in WWII and a Bronze Star-Meritorious for his service in Korea. During his military service, he and his family lived in Germany as well as at other Army military bases in the United States. They had three daughters and two grandchildren. She recalls sewing and making all of the clothes for her daughters even after they went to college. They enjoyed vacations to Gulf Shores, AL. They were members of First Baptist Church of Montgomery where she served as president of a Sunday school class and served as an outreach leader making calls to church members who were ill. She served as the founding member of the church’s committee to hire a social worker to run the church’s Caring Center. She worked as a record keeper in the AL Department of Health for 18 years starting out as a clerk and becoming second in leadership, and she found that work interesting and enjoyable.

PO3 Holley conclusions about her life are, “One thing that I have tried to focus on is the positive. There is no point in focusing on the negative. God gave us good things, and he expects us to follow his teachings. We have to follow God’s guidance.”


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