"not a Wac and not a Red Cross girl"

WAC air controller
Public DomainWAC air controller
World War II Red Cross poster
Public DomainWorld War II Red Cross poster
Technically, Wac should be rendered in all capital letters: WAC. It’s an abbreviation for Women’s Army Corps, the women’s branch of the U.S Army.

The corps was pretty new at the time the novel takes place, having been established as an auxiliary unit (the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) in 1942 and given full status the following year. About 150,000 women served in the corps during the Second World War, and individual members in the service were familiarly known as “WACs.” The 1943 painting at left, by Dan V. Smith, depicts a WAC air controller at a microphone in an airport tower.

A “Red Cross girl” would be a nurse with the American Red Cross, founded by Clara Barton in 1881. The poster at right also dates from the Second World War.