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Barbara Butler was born in Syracuse, New York in 1921. Her father was a salesman so they moved around a lot when she was a child. She attended a number of different schools and that was hard for her.After graduating high school she attended the New York State College for Teachers which is now part of the State University of New York system.Butler graduated high school in 1939. At that time a student at her college who pledged to teach for at least two years after graduating did not have to pay tuition. Butler lived at home with her parents and worked after school hours and during the summer to cover her college expenses.Butler was studying for a physics exam when she learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Her father had the radio on an that's how she was notified. It was devastating.Many of the men in her classes left to go off to war and by the time she graduated in 1943 most of her classmates were females.After graduating she taught science and math at a school in a small Dutch community called Castleton on Hudson. She was the first woman science teacher at the school. When the male faculty went off to work the faculty was made up of mostly women.Butler tried to get into the military and go through officer training but was rejected because she wore glasses. She later saw a newspaper article in a New York newspaper that the American Red Cross was looking for people to serve overseas as recreation workers.She volunteered and was accepted after two days of grueling interviews. She was given a list of clothing and equipment to buy and was told to go to Washington D.C. for training.Butler was 23 years old at the time. The age requirement had been lowered from 25 to 23. Most of the people in her training class were teachers.Butler took her training at American University in Washington D.C. After completing her training she was sent to Camp Pickett, Virginia for two weeks to get an idea of what she would be doing in the Red Cross. She then returned to Washington D.C. to get her orders.Butler's first choice for overseas service was Australia but she did not get it. Her second choice was the Philippines which she did get. She travelled to Camp Stoneman, California where she boarded a ship for the Philippines. After 17 days at sea she arrived in Manila. The trip was very boring. It was not like a cruise ship is today. The Red Cross workers were housed in a military encampment where they waited to get their orders.Butler arrived in Manila in October 1943 [Annotator's Note: more likely 1944]. She was overseas from 1943 to 1946.
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