JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Mae Krier is an original Rosie the Riveter. Her hard work and dedication during World War II helped save the world and led her to many places, the most recent being the 459th Air Refueling Wing.
“It’s a great day to be at the 459th Air Refueling Wing,” Krier said. “I’m excited to share my story with the women and men here, and to see the tanker.”
Krier, 94, and the riveters, are women who worked in factories and shipyards during WWII, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. In 1943 she went to Seattle, Washington, to work as a riveter on B-17 and B-29 Bombers.
“My sister, friend and I finished school and said, 'let’s got to Seattle for the summer; it will be fun!'” she said. “We went there and loved it and became riveters. The longer we stayed the more patriotic we became. My girlfriend is still alive but most of us Rosie’s are gone and some are not well enough to get around.”
While at the 459th, Krier got the chance to meet KC-135 pilots and maintainers, and shared her admiration for women and young Airmen as a whole serving in today’s military.
During a tour at the Pentagon Krier learned of Tech. Sgt. Sandra Henriquez, 459th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aero repair technician, and wanted to meet her. Henriquez is featured in a popular painting by Tech. Sgt. Kat Justen, 459th ARW Public Affairs non-commissioned officer in charge and Air Force Reserve Command Office of History and Heritage artist, which is currently displayed in the Air Force wing at the Pentagon. Krier was especially drawn to this painting as it symbolizes a woman alongside a man doing the same job.
“Back then, women were not getting paid nearly as much as men. I worked very hard and I’m proud of my work,” Krier said. “We were every bit as good as the men sometimes better. Had it not been for the women, the men may not have won the war.”
Tech. Sgt. Henriquez shares her experience meeting Krier.
“It’s awesome in the proper sense of the word,” Henriquez said. “I feel like we’ve gone away from what all this really means. It’s so inspiring to be with someone who lived through what the women did and what they did for our country in a time we really needed it. Everyone was out there, all the men were gone and she stepped up to the plate. I wouldn’t be an aircraft mechanic if it wasn’t for women like her. I am truly humbled and happy to be a part of this.”
Krier has had quite the influence on society. She led a successful campaign to get Congress to unanimously vote for a National Rosie the Riveter Day in 2017. It is now observed during Women’s History Month on March 21st. She is currently working on a campaign to pass the bipartisan bicameral Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Legislation.
“Our Medal of Honor winners couldn’t have won the war if it wasn’t for everything we built; we built everything,” Krier said. “There was nothing that we couldn’t do.”
The 459th hopes to bring Krier back in the near future to fly a refueling mission on the KC-135.
“This experience has been amazing. I really thank everyone here for making this possible,” she said. “I look forward to coming back to the 459th.”