Women's Reserve of the
Coast Guard
II. Facts about the SPARS
-. Requirements for Joining
-. Training
-. SPARS Types of Duty
-. SPARS Duty Stations
-. Payment
Facts about the SPARS

Requirements for Joining

. Enlisted Personnel Officers
Age Not less than 20 and not over 36. Not less than 20 and not over 50.
Citizenship Native-born American. If not native-born, applicant or her parents must have naturalization papers. Native-born American. If not native-born, applicant or her parents must have naturalization papers.
Dependents No children under 18 years of age. No children under 18 years of age.
Education At least 2 years of high school Must have a college degree or have passed two years of college work and had at least two years of acceptable business or professional experience.
Marriage A married woman may enlist provided her husband is not in the Coast Guard. Unmarried women must agree not to marry until after they have finished their period of training. After training, a SPAR may marry a civilian or a service man who is not in the Coast Guard. A married woman may enlist provided her husband is not in the Coast Guard. Unmarried women must agree not to marry until after they have finished their period of training. After training, a SPAR may marry a civilian or a service man who is not in the Coast Guard.
Character Furnish three character references Furnish three character references
Experience Submit a record of occupation since leaving school. Submit a record of occupation since leaving school.
Physical Examination Pass a Navy physical examination. Applicant must be not less than five feet in height and less than 95 pounds in weight.  Pass the Navy examination for candidates for commissions.
Term of Enlistment For the duration of the war and not more than six months thereafter  For the duration of the war and not more than six months thereafter
All Applications should be made to the nearest office of Naval Officer procurement.


Starting on 17 February 1943, SPARS received preliminary training at a time when Coast Guard instructional institutes for women were still being set up. Enlisted SPARS trained at various places. The first group of SPARS transferred from the WAVES received their training at the Oklahoma's Agricultural and Mechanical University in Stillwater which also became a specialist school for the yeaoman rating. The first civilian women who enlisted as SPARS were trained at the Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls.

More than 1,900 SPARS were sent to Hunter College at the Naval Training Station in Bronx, New York, for a five-week "boot training" course in military indoctrination (etiquette and customs), naval uniforms and history, ships and aircraft, military organization and regulations.

From the middle of 1943 until the end of 1944, Coast Guard female recruits underwent more regimented initial training in Florida at the leased Palm Beach Biltmore Hotel. More than 7,000 women were indoctrinated in the 18 months where the training school at Palm Beach existed. 

Picture Source: US Coast Guard
Regimental Review, US Coast Guard Training Station,
Palm Beach, Florida
Until the end of war, SPARS taining was conducted at Manhattan Beach, New York. About 1,900 SPARS went through the Training Station Manhattan.
Picture Source: US Coast Guard .v Enlisted SPARS were trained in all the categories offered to WAVES and in the schools already established for the WAVES. In addition, they received special indoctrination by Coast Guard officers.

After the "boot training" some of the trainees were ready for active duty, while others, selected on the basis of aptitude tests went to specialist's schools for further specialists' training to fit them for specific jobs. They could attend advanced training at the yeoman school, the storekeeper schools or advanced radio schools. Such specialized training lasted up to three more months.

Officers were commissioned directly from civilian life, based on their appearance and stamina, educational background (preferably with college degrees in finance, communications and personal management) and seafaring background (swimming, yachting or sailing) suitable for Coast Guard maritime work.

Additionally, enlisted SPARS were encouraged to apply as officer candidates. About 31 percent of the SPARS officers were drawn from enlisted personnel eventually. Officer candidates attended the Naval Reserve Midshipmen School in Massachusetts and often completed schooling at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. Many had to pass two months of advanced communication courses prior to final commissioning. 

Picture Source: US Coast Guard
SPARS  officers learning gunnery and maneuver of Coast Guard combat patrol craft. Most are already experienced sailors and experts at handling yachts and motorboats prior to joing the SPARS.
Course  Station  Location
Basic SPAR
before mid-1943
Campus, Stillwater

Campus, Cedar Falls

Naval Training School, Bronx

Oklahoma's A&M University, Stillwater
Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls
Hunter College, New York
Basic SPAR
after mid-1943 
Training Station Palm Beach Palm Beach, Florida
Basic SPAR
since 1945
Training Station Manhattan Manhattan Beach, New York
Advanced Enlisted  Yeoman School 1
Yeoman School 2 
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Advanced Enlisted Storekeeper School 1
Storekeeper School 2
Storekeeper School 3
Bloomington, Indiana
Boston, Massachusetts
Milledgeville, Georgia
Advanced Enlisted  Radio School 1
Radio School 2
Madison, Wisconsin
Oxford, Ohio
Officer Candidate Naval Reserve Midshipmen School
Coast Guard Academy
Northampton, Massachusetts
New London, Connecticut
Advanced Officer Communications School 
Pay and Supply School
Northampton, Massachusetts
Palm Beach, Florida

SPARS Types of Duty
Picture Source: US Coast Guard
Enlisted SPAR dispatching communications
.v Only a few jobs SPARS did were glamorous. Mostly, they were working at desks formerly occupied by male officers and enlisted men. 

SPARS women initially replaced men in shore stations as receptionists, messengers, mail clerks, telephone and switchboard operators, teletype experts, yeomen, storekeepers, radio operators and technicians, drivers of military vehicles, pharmacist mates, cooks and stewards. 

As the war progressed, Coast Guard women were placed in charge of greater areas of previously male-only control.
For example, women soon had instrumental roles in control of shipping through the Naval Port Director offices, in which they served and often helped to coordinate. This essential task insured that port shipping was quickly and efficiently routed to avoid mishaps and undue delays. Such clearance and discharge responsibilities placed women in the forefront of many military cargo and personnel handling decisions. Port ammunition and explosives were added to this responsibility, so that many women performed dangerous and hazardous assignments.
.v Picture Source: US Coast Guard
Signal Lamp Instruction
During the summer of 1943, it was decided that SPARS should take over the very important and secret job of operating LORAN Monitoring Stations at the Atlantic coasts of the United States. 
Picture Source: US Coast Guard
SPAR officers inspecting LORAN stations in Alaska
.v LORAN (Long Range Aid to Navigation) was a classified electronic system developed during the war that enabled navigators of air and surface craft to fix positions under all weather conditions. Vessel dim-outs and even blackouts within the North Atlantic combat zone was possible because of the valuable navigational aid of the LORAN system.

The work at the LORAN stations demanded highly classified personnel with a special training. The SPAR operators combined to complete 24-hour watches every day. 

The LORAN unit at Chatham on Cape Cod was the first one staffed completely by women. 

Examples of jobs taken over by SPARS:
Accountants Gunners' Mates Pharmacists' Mates
Aerographers Hospital Attendants Photographer's Mates
Air Control Tower Operators Home Economists Public Reception Assistants
Aviation Machinists' Mates International Business Machine Operators Public Relations Assistants
Aviation Metalsmiths Legal Assistants Quartermasters
Bakers Line Assistants Radarmen
Card Punch Operators Link Trainer Operators Radio Communication Operators
Chaplains' Assistants Mail Clerks Radio Technicians
Chauffeurs Mechanics Stewards
Clerks Mess Attendants Storekeepers
Commissary Stewards Messengers  Tabulators
Cooks Meteorlogists Technicians Telephone Operators
Coxwain Morale Workers Teletype Operators
Draftmen Motion Picture Technicians Tower Watchers
Electricians' Mates Motor Vehicle Drivers Typists
File Clerks Musicians Welfare Assistants
Financial Assistants Parachute Riggers Yeomen
Officers became especially valuable as communications directors and disbursing agents in Coast Guard Pay and Supply. They were responsible for allotment accounting, ration and general mess (control of dining facilities), clothing and procurement, as well as transportation supervision.

Duties of Officers: 

Administrative Assistants Instructors at Training Posts Morale and Welfare Recreation Workers
Commissary Officers Legal Officers Officer and Enlisted Procurement Officers
Communiators Liaison Personnel Officers
Engineers Medical Technicians Supply Technicians
 Finance Officers Metereologists Public Relation Officers

SPARS worked within the following offices and under the following officers.
I. Within the Office of The Commandant of the US Coast Guard

Commandant's Office Administrative Management Division
Advisory Board Public Relations Division
Merchant Marine Council Special Assistants
II. Within offices of the Headquarters and the Assistant Commandant
Office Services Division 
Statistical Division Chief Personnel Officer
Ordnance and Gunnery Division
Assistant Chief Personnel Officer Port Security Division Chief Finance and Supply Officer
Auxiliary Division Assistant Chief Finance and Supply Officer
Medical Division (note: actual female nurses and doctors from Public Health Service) Administrative Assistant
Women's Reserve Division Inspector in Chief (Inspection Division) Planning and Procedures Officer
Intelligence Division Accounting Division
Legal Division Budget and Reports Division
Chief Operations Officer Supply Division Engineer in Chief
Operations Planning Officer Assistant Engineer in Chief
Allowance Division Aeronautical Engineering Division
Aviation Division Naval Engineering Division
Merchant Marine Inspection Division Contract Services Division
Merchant Marine Personnel Division Materiel Reports Division
III. Under the following officers within each Coast Guard/Navy District
(see SPARS Duty Stations)
Headquarters of the District Marine Inspection Officer
Military Morale Officer Ordnance and Gunnery Officer
Personnel Procurement Officer Port Security Officer
Records and Assignments Officer Vessel Operations Officer
Temporary Reserve Personnel Officer Intelligence Officer 
Training Officer Law Officer 
Civilian Personnel Officer Finance and Supply Officer
District Director of the Auxiliary Medical Officer and Engineer Officer Budget and Accounting Officer
Civil Engineer Officer Clothing Officer
Communications Engineer Officer Commissary Officer
Marine Engineer Officer Pay and Disbursing Officer
Aids to Navigation Officer Supply Officer
Beach Patrol Officer Transportation Officer
Communications Officer Operations Officer

SPARS Duty Stations
Coast Guard District * Headquarters  Location
First  Boston, Massachusetts  New England
Third  New York, New York  Northeast
Fourth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mid-Atlantic north
Fifth  Norfolk, Virginia  Mid-Atlantic south
Sixth Charleston, South Carolina  Southeast
Seventh Miami, Florida Florida, Bahamas
Eighth New Orleans, Louisiana  Gulf coast
Ninth Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis Great Lakes and Mississippi River
Eleventh San Diego, California West Coast south
Twelfth San Francisco, California  West Coast middle
Thirteenth Seattle, Washington Northwest
Fourteenth ** Honolulu, Hawaii Hawaii and Pacific 
Seventeenth ** Ketchikan, Alaska Alaska, Aleutian Islands
No Second, Fifteenth, or Sixteenth Districts existed. Coast Guard Districts were also known as Navy Districts.
** SPARS could be assigned to the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Districts (Hawaii and Alaska) after 27 September 1944, because of a basic Reserve Act amendment that removed restrictions where SPARS could serve. Both were important duty stations and many SPARS eventually served in both places.

SPARS received the same rates of pay as Coast Guardsmen.
Enlisted SPARS
Rate Monthly Base Pay Subsistence Total
Apprentice Seaman $50 $82.50 $132.50
Seaman, Second Class $54 $82.50 $136.50
Seaman, First Class $66 $82.50 $148.50
Petty Officer Third Class $78 $82.50 $160.50
Petty Officer Second Class $96 $82.50 $178.50
Petty Officer, First Class $114 $82.50 $196.50
Chief Petty Officer $126 $82.50 $208.50
Additionally, enlisted SPARS received $200 uniform allowance.
SPARS Officers
Rank Monthly Base Pay Allowances Total
Ensign $150 plus subsistence and quarters allowance about $216
Lieut. (jg.) $166.67 plus allowances about $247
Lieut. (sg.) $200 plus allowances about $296
Lieut. Comdr. $250 plus allowances .
Additionally, SPARS officers received $250 uniform allowance.
[ I. Development ]..[ II. Facts about the SPARS ]..[ III. Uniforms ]..[ IV. Sources ]