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WASHINGTON– On the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law allowing women to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces as permanent, regular members of all branches of the military, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Lora Burch in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans. 

Growing up in a small town and in a military family, Lora believed the Armed Forces would provide many opportunities. At 19, she enlisted in the Navy.

“I was always an adventure seeker. That’s why I went in,” she said.

“My father was in the Army during World War II. He was in London, and he kind of resisted me going in when I got that idea, but my mother was more than happy to have me move out. She was ready to be an empty nester,” said Lora. While her father did not have fond memories of military service, she recalled a love of listening to the military march songs – specifically “Anchors Away,” the official Navy song – while growing up and truly looked up to her father and her brother-in-law for their service. 

Lora went to Maryland for bootcamp and served a three-year tour processing security clearance paperwork before leaving active duty. However, she decided to re-enlist and made a request of her Iowa-based recruiter. “I said I’ll go back in if you give me the West Coast and send me to a school.” Lora was then stationed in San Diego for one year followed by an assignment at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado where she received training as an Intelligence Specialist. “I was one of the first women that went through that school. They had just opened it up to women.”

Lora’s next assignment took her to Guam. “What I did there was I would brief the pilots before they took off on a P3 that was spying on Russia off the Sea of Japan and then I would be in touch with them by phone. During the nine months only once did I get a call where they had been shot at, so I had to run down the hall and tell the real top-secret people,” she said.

Being the only woman in her detachment presented different challenges, but Lora was always eager to do things other women didn’t do including going on a rest and recuperation trip to South Korea. “I said ‘I wanna go,’ so I was the only girl on the whole flight, and they actually took me up to the front and I got to push a button and the whole plane banked and it was kind of fun,” she said.

While in Japan, Lora married a man from her hometown she met while they were both stationed in San Diego. She has fond memories of their honeymoon along the bullet train up and down Japan. After returning stateside she had her first child and decided to go into the U.S. Navy Reserves and eventually retire to be able to better support her family.

Lora used the GI Bill to earn a college degree and to pay for child care while she worked. Over the years, she worked in city government, for nonprofits and as a career counselor at Crowder College in Missouri where she received her master’s degree.

Although she faced many obstacles as a woman in the military, Lora believes the strength and skills she gained from the experience shaped her critical ways. Military life taught her the importance of speaking up for herself, which helped when she moved to a town where she didn’t know anyone at a new job. “I really had to fall back on that I think, the strength I had learned in the military,” Lora remembered. 

Today, Lora calls Bella Vista home. Looking back on her own service, she believes serving in the military helps people mature and that serving others, whether in the military or in the community, has a positive impact on everyone who takes the opportunity.

“I am grateful to Lora Burch for her service to our country. As we celebrate Women Veterans Recognition Day this month, let us always remember the key role she and all women in uniform have played in protecting our freedoms and serving their country. Preserving her memories for the Veterans History Project is a great way to show our appreciation for her service,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Burch’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.