Vos: Ruby set the gold standard | Notice
Sheldon’s National Guard Company I went into service in February 1941 with thoughts of war as a reality. The civilian air patrol was founded as an auxiliary to the US Air Force on December 1, 1941, a week before Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. The United States declared war on Japan the next day, December 8, 1941, followed by Germany and Italy declaring war on the United States. The United States responded and declared war on Germany and Italy on December 11, 1941.
Gas rationing began in November 1942, followed by rationing of farm machinery and cars. Sugar and coffee came next. People have been urged to buy US savings bonds.
In 1943, soups, canned juices, meat and dairy products joined the rationed products. Collections of scrap metal, rubber tires and milkweed pods were organized to acquire these necessary items.
Victory gardens have been planted. Statewide power outages with air raid warnings began on August 5, 1943. People joined the Red Cross.
Many women worked in factories and war factories or in other jobs that men normally did because men were protecting our country. Sheldon Airport had 24 hour guards.
Some movies and songs have become popular: “This is the Army”, “White Christmas”, “South Pacific”, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Munitions” and “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer”.
Alta Mae Gintert graduated from Sheldon High School in May 1942, then moved to Des Moines to work there for two years.
She returned to Sheldon to live with her parents when her fiance was killed in an African countryside. She accepted a position at the Security State Bank.
The Sheldon Civil Air Patrol was established in January 1944. Alta Mae Gintert joined as an auxiliary member on February 22, 1944. The Sheldon CAP had 95 members.
Ground lessons in aviation schools began with meteorology and navigation. Then she took flying lessons. After 10 hours of plane takeoffs and landings, her instructor, Malcolm Davis, said she was ready to fly solo.
When she climbed to the correct altitude, she said she felt pleasantly close to God. She prayed for a smooth landing, but never forgot to keep her eyes on the ground, the throttle back and the plane level. She landed the plane perfectly.
“That day, April 7, 1944, was one of the most significant events in my life. Prayer and determination paid off, ”said Alta Mae.
She was commissioned as a lieutenant and appointed adjutant and official recruiter for the Air WAC (Women’s Army Corps) in northwest Iowa. She racked up her solo flying hours, passed her ground tests, and passed her solo cross-country flights. She was the first female civilian air patrol to conduct her solo flight.
Members of the CAP were responsible for the defense of the homeland, patrolling the coasts of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and monitoring submarines. The ultimate price was paid by 65 members of the CAP throughout the war.
Then Alta surprised everyone. She resigned from CAP and withdrew her plans to join the Air WAC and WAF (Women in the Air Force) and this interrupted her flight. Due to a whirlwind romance, Alta Mae Gintert married Lieutenant Carl Ruby on December 25, 1944. Alta Mae Gintert became Alta Mae Gintert Ruby and she decided that she should devote her life to her marriage and her family.
Alta and Lt. Ruby spent a year in the military, then returned to civilian life in Hartley where they opened a successful John Deere dealership and raised five children. When Carl and Alta retired, they moved to the Great Lakes from Iowa. After a while, they decided to move to Sheldon, their hometown. They sold their lake property and bought a condo on East Third Street in Sheldon and placed a very large boulder with an “R” letter for Ruby on the front lawn. Carl died in 2002 and Alta died in 2014. She was 88 years old.
US Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was responsible for introducing the bill to award a gold medal to CPA members. On May 19, 2014, the United States House of Representatives voted to award CAP members with a Congressional Gold Medal for their volunteer service during World War II. More than 120,000 members of the Civilian Air Patrol mobilized and supported the military effort and helped keep the country secure during and after World War II.
The Senate approved the Gold Medal Act and President Barack Obama signed the bill.
“I am delighted to see this bill receive final approval,” Harkin said. “The men and women of the Civilian Air Patrol have stepped up and served their country when it was needed during the darkest days of WWII, and it is time we recognized them and thank them for their service. .
The gold medal awarded to them was the highest civilian honor that could have been awarded to CPA members. Doug Ruby, Alta’s son from California, accepted the award on behalf of his mother, who passed away without knowing she had received a Congressional Gold Medal.
Roger Ruby, a former chiropractor from Sheldon, brought the medal and several other objects and photos to the Sheldon Prairie Museum for display. The Ruby family decided it was important to share this exceptional award and the Congressional Gold Medal with visitors to the museum. Come see Alta’s presentation and its gold medal! What a great honor!
Millie Vos is Secretary / Treasurer of the Sheldon Historical Society and Director of the Museum and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sheldon Prairie Museum. This is part of a series of historical articles on Sheldon. Members of the Sheldon Historical Society receive an annual newsletter with articles like this one. To join the company, call them at 712-324-3235.