SMITHVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - Each month, WALB and Montlick and Associates recognize the “Heroes Among Us.” We spotlight an active duty man or woman, a veteran or a fallen hero.
A female World War II veteran is continuing to make a difference in her community.
“How old am I? Oh, 39 and pending (pending on who I’m talking to),” Reba Moncus said.
She is actually 99 years old and lives in Smithville, but she grew up in Omega.
Almost 80 years ago, World War II was going on. She was 21 at the time, making a decision few women made.
“July 15, 1942, I was sworn in at Hunter College New York,” Moncus explained.
That month, the U.S. created the “Navy WAVES” (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
The goal was to free up men for sea duty. Reba made quite the wave when she joined.
“I was actually the first female to join the military in Albany, Georgia,” she said.
Her assignment was to be a parachute rigger. They inspected, mended, and packed air parachutes for men going into battle.
“You’d be amazed at how much work there is to packing a parachute,” Moncus said. “I grew muscles like a man. I didn’t like that.”
While in the WAVES, she saw her share of tragedy.
“You could stand out there and watch them practice on the runway at night. And then all a sudden, you’d see a big explosion, and one of these heavy fighter planes had gone down,” she said. “Most of the time, the pilots were saved, but some of them weren’t.”
Being from a military family, her loved ones saw tragedy, too.
“My oldest brother was killed on mother’s birthday,” Moncus said. “He went all through Germany and got killed 9 days before VE (Victory in Europe) Day. That was a tough road.”
After she got out of the Navy, she went on to raise five children. Now, she has 74 descendants. 19 have served in the military, 11 of whom served in combat.
Nowadays, it’s easy to tell Reba’s proud of all that commitment to our country. She flies a flag in front of her house in Smithville and has a small statue of a soldier kneeling at the foot of a cross near the flag pole.
She will turn 100 years old in November.
“I superseded my own thoughts. I never dreamed of that,” she explained.
It’s bittersweet for her to look back on her life.
“I’m not ready to go exactly. But, I am ready. There’s a time,” Moncus said.
This proud World War Two veteran said she’s not sure how she ended up living to 99. We asked her what her secret is to a long life.
“I wish I knew. We’re not to question God, but that’s really the only object we have, is reaching for him,” she explained.
But, she and her family did have a couple of ideas.
Her daughter said, “you worked hard, you didn’t smoke, you drank very little, and ate right.”
To that, Moncus replied: “And I did raise a little hell sometimes.”
If you know a special military hero you want to nominate, click here.