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Margaret Heller Himstedt Letzig was the first Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) officer from Arkansas during World War II. She served from 1942 to 1943, achieving the rank of first lieutenant.
Margaret Himstedt was born on November 4, 1898, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Henry Himstedt and Margaret Hickey Himstedt. Her father was the co-owner of Pfeifer-Himstedt Plumbing and Heating Company. Himstedt was educated in Little Rock’s public schools and graduated from Little Rock High School in 1915. She attended Trinity College in Washington DC, where she received BA degrees in English and chemistry. She later received a master’s degree in social work from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Himstedt worked as a medical social worker at St. John’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock.
Himstedt married Frank William Letzig on September 4, 1923, at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. They had two children, Margaret Ellen and Frank Jr.
Letzig joined the WAAC when she was forty-three. Her daughter was entering college, while her son was starting his senior year in high school and awaiting a call to active duty in the Army Aviation Cadet Program. At the same time, her husband was being transferred to St. Louis Arsenal from Pine Bluff Arsenal as an automotive parts specialist. Letzig saw that her family was taken care of and, as a patriotic person, wanted to serve her country in war time.
She was inducted in July 1942 and reported to Fort Des Moines, Iowa, on July 20 for basic training. She was later stationed at the Pentagon in Washington DC, where she served until 1943, when she was honorably discharged due to illness as a first lieutenant. By this time, the WAAC had become the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), an official part of the U.S. Army.
Letzig was the first director of the Arkansas Girls State program, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, in 1942. She was a charter member of the Ouachita Girl Scout Council. She was also a member of the Altrusa Club, Delta Kappa Gamma, state and national chapters of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, Woman’s City Club, Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs, Arkansas Historical Association, Civil War Roundtable, Quapaw Quarter Association, Arkansas Genealogical Society, Freedom Foundation, American Legion Auxiliary, National WAC Veterans, Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and the Catholic Daughters.
Letzig died on August 14, 1982, in Little Rock. Her funeral was at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic Church, and she is buried in Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock.
“Qualifies for WAAC Officer Training.” Arkansas Democrat, July 9, 1942, p. 6.
Margaret Letzig Kemp
Little Rock, Arkansas
Frank William Letzig Jr.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 8/30/2014
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