The farthest away Doris and Richard Edge lived from each other was during the middle of World War II. They didn’t know each other yet, but they both grew up east St. Paul before being called to join the war effort, voluntarily for Doris and through the draft for Richard.
In 1943, Doris signed up for WAVES — which stood for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, a Navy Reserves program created the year before that was one of the first ways for women to enter the military.
The women serving in WAVES and its Army accompaniment, WAC — Women’s Army Corps — could train as nurses, mechanics and a number of other things. Doris became a yeoman, doing secretarial work for a WAVES officer from Milwaukee.
That same year, Richard was drafted directly after finishing high school. After his initial check in at Fort Snelling, he was sent to Germany by way of Texas. He was part of a mortar squad, 12 men who carried and fired mortars to protect infantry advancing in front of them.
Richard nearly lost his leg when an artillery shell hit the barn that he and his men took shelter in during a downpour. He was in the middle of warning his squad that they should keep moving when the blast threw him across the barn, killing two of his men and tearing up his back. A surgeon called him a “very lucky soldier” when he discovered that his boot buckle saved a piece of shrapnel from taking off his leg. After two months' rest, Richard was sent back to his unit to work in a post office in Paris, where he worked until after the end of the war.
Meanwhile, Doris found meaning in her job as a yeoman stationed in Pensacola, Fla., so much so that when the war ended she stayed in the reserve.
She advanced through training, eventually earning the rank of lieutenant before leaving in 1961.
In 1955, Doris was playing organ in a St. Paul bar when Richard arrived. They got to know each other and were married by September 1956.
MPR News photographer Evan Frost interviewed Doris and Richard Edge. It is part of MPR News’ Portraits of Valor series, which features Minnesota’s World War II veterans. Use the player above to listen to parts of their conversation.
Editor’s note (Nov. 10, 2021): Doris Edge died on March 24, 2021, at the age of 97 after 65 years of marriage to Richard. She is buried alongside members of her family in Maplewood and has a anchor on her gravestone in honor of her service.
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