Danish WW2 Pilots

Sgt Gladys Nielsen

(1917 - 2014)

Sgt Gladys Nielsen enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1942. She served as an Army Air Force WAC and was one of twenty-nine Danish born WACs during the Second World War.

Gladys Nielsen was born on 11 May 1917 in Kongens Lyngby, to carpenter Niels Nielsen and Hilda Marie Nielsen (née Olsen).[1]

The Nielsen family emigrated to the United States in 1923-1924. Her father arrived in the USA in April 1923. Nielsen, her mother and siblings arrived in New York from Copenhagen onboard the SS United States on 14 October 1924.[2] The family settled in Kings, New York, where Nielsen became a beautician.[3]

Nielsen enlisted as a private (A-209403) in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in New York City on 19 September 1944.[4] She served at the Newark Air Force Base, and later volunteered to go to Tokyo, where she served five years as a supply sergeant in General MacArthur’s motor pool.[5] She returned from Japan in April 1949.[6]

She married Richard Eugene Smith in Los Angeles, California, on 19 November 1955.[7] She died in Hendersonville, North Carolina on 21 September 2014.[8]

Her brother, Walter Lunn Nielsen, was wounded in service as a ship’s cook first class in the US Navy during the war.[9] He was a cook onboard the New Orleans-class cruiser USS Vincennes (CA-44),[10] which was lost at the Battle of Savoy Island in the Pacific on 9 August 1942.[12]


[1] DNA: Parish register, Kongens Lyngby sogn.

[2] Ancestry: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.

[3] Ancestry: 1940 United States Federal Census.

[4] Ancestry: U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946.

[5] Gladys Nielson Smith, Fina a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/210000769/gladys-smith (retrieved on 3 September 2022).

[6] Ancestry: Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1965.

[7] Ancestry: Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1965.

[8] Ancestry: U.S., Cemetery and Funeral Home Collection, 1847-Current.

[9] Ancestry: U.S., Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941.

[10] Ancestry: U.S., World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949.

[11] USS Vincennes (CA-44), Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Vincennes_(CA-44) (retrieved on 3 September 2022).