Local Member Of “Lipstick Brigade” Honored

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By Christyn Allen

ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Nearly 80 years after her service, a local World War II veteran is being honored.

Florine Crawford served as a member of the Lipstick Brigade from 1944 until 1946. The group was made of female typists and decoders who helped the allies defeat Hitler.

“She was something else… just a great lady,” Roger Giles remembers his sister mostly through laughter.

Flo, as she was known, brought a smile or a laugh to nearly everyone she met in her 97 years. “I think one of the things we miss the most is her laughter, and her precious giggle,” her sister-in-law, Joan Giles, told Erie News Now.

One thing a lot of people didn’t know right away about Flo was her military service. “She wouldn’t talk about it too much, what she did. In fact, when you’d dig into her a little, she says well what I did was not to be known by anyone,” said Roger.

Flo was a member of a group of women, later termed the Lipstick Brigade. “She said you didn’t talk about those things, you might come up missing,” Joan laughed, “She says even my husband didn’t know what I did.”

The Lipstick Brigade intercepted and deciphered thousands of messages from Japanese fleets. That’s how the U.S. kept tabs on Japan during WWII.

“This allowed us to step out of our normal daily routine and meet a family whose sister provided a valuable asset during World War II, deciphering enemy communications,” Eric Hawes of Embracing Our Veterans said.

Local veterans and the Embracing our Veterans organization presented Flo’s brother and sister-in- law with a commemorative plaque, honoring the classified work she kept secret her entire life. “She volunteered to go and serve. I don’t know how many women would’ve done that at that age,” said Joan.

Even though her seat sets empty now at her brother’s house, her spirit of love and laughter is still around. “Up even until a week before she passed, she was still smiling,” said Roger.


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