Real-life ‘Rosie’ living in Walla Walla valley

PROUD TO HAVE SERVED: Thelma Tryon bucked rivets for the Marines, and husband Robert was a cook for the U.S.Navy.

“Sometimes I tell people I was a Rosie the Riveter during World War II,” said 96-year-old Thelma Tryon. “Nobody has heard of Rosie the Bucker!”

While her partner held the rivet gun, she would crawl inside the pontoons of the amphibious vehicles they were building and hold a steel bar to the skin so the riveter would have a solid surface to work against. “I was 21 and real skinny, so it was easy for me to get into small spaces,” she said.

She attended boot camp and training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Because she had worked for Hughes Aircraft, it made sense to train her in manufacturing.

“It was a fun time for me, Thelma said. “Of course, after the stories came out from Auschwitz and other places in Europe, we found out it hadn’t been a fun time at all.”