Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Connie Rocha was the second of six siblings. She left school in the 8th grade to help provide for her family. Connie was 16 years old when the United States entered World War II, and like many women, she felt drawn to contribute to the war effort.
Connie Doria Rocha during her employment at Hickam Field in Hawai’i. Courtesy of Connie Rocha.
Connie began working at Kelly Field repairing airplanes as a sheet metal mechanic. After a year she applied for a transfer to another repair depot in Hawai’i, where she continued to work as an aircraft mechanic till the end of the war.
Women Mechanics known as “Kelly Katies” assemble for a photo. January 1944, at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas.
In 2008 Connie came to StoryCorps to record her memories for the Military Voices Initiative, to talk about the independence she gained through her work during World War II.
Top Photo: Connie Rocha during her StoryCorps interview in San Antonio, Texas on February 18, 2008. By Rose Gorman for StoryCorps.
Originally aired July 3, 2021, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.