Carmen Garcia Rosado was one of the first women to join the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in World War II. She was a member of the Puerto Rican WAC unit, Company 6, 2nd Battalion, 21st Regiment of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
Rosado, an educator, wrote LAS WACS-Participacion de la Mujer Boricua en la Segunda Guerra Mundial about her experiences in the military.
During World War II, large numbers of Puerto Rican men joined the Army, including some whose English was limited. Puerto Rican women tried to join, but were not accepted into the U.S. military until 1944. That year the Army, determining that Spanish speakers would be needed in non-combat positions, sent a WAC officer and three enlisted recruiters to Puerto Rico in search of 200 women to form a special WAC regiment.
They had more than 1,500 volunteers, according to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation.
Among the 200 chosen was Carmen Garcia Rosado, one of nine children of a sugar plantation foreman. Garcia Rosado served in the segregated unit as a clerical worker in New York until the end of the war, when she and the rest of the unit returned home to Puerto Rico. Her book told of the discrimination faced by Company 6, which was a segregated unit, as were the units in which Puerto Rican men served during World War II.
Garcia Rosado worked in higher education for many years. She became a consultant to the Director of Veterans Affairs in Puerto Rico in 1989 and the president of the Association of United Puerto Rican Female Veterans soon after. Her book, the first to describe the life of the women of Company 6, was published in 2006. She was described in Ethnic and Racial Minorities in the U.S. Military: An Encyclopedia, by Alexander M. Bielakowski, as a “leading activist” in the cause of the rights of Puerto Rico’s female veterans.
Puerto Rico has sent a disproportionate number of men and women into combat. While Garcia Rosado’s later contributions to modern understanding of the experience of Puerto Rico’s soldiers and support for their rights brought her to prominence, in 1944 she was just one of many Puerto Ricans serving in the armed forces.