Trout tells heroic tales of military women of WWII


Peg Trout, proud native of North Baltimore, proves you can come home again and have a lot of fun in the
process. The author, photographer, and self-publisher of Sisters at War , a lovingly written history of
fifty-three women who served in a not-always- welcoming military during World War II, was inspired by
the life, times and five inch scrapbook of her beloved Aunt Flo. As a child Peg poured over her aunt’s
meticulously kept scrapbook which contained historical minutiae ranging from travel orders to
Trout, diminutive, fit, and military of bearing, spoke at the North Baltimore Library to a rapt group of
friends, former teachers, relatives and strangers. Her former business teacher and retired Wood County
official Becky Bhaer, has kept in touch over the years, and is donating a copy of the book to The Wood
County Library. Long-time Bowling Green resident Elizabeth Dunipace is featured, as are several other
Wood County and Northwest Ohio women.
The book documents the service of women from more than twenty states. It began as a class project on
families when Trout was pursuing a Certificate in Professional Photography in San Diego, her current
home. With her family in Ohio she remembered Aunt Flo and arranged to interview and photograph women at
a Veterans’ Retirement Center. One thing lead to another. Needless to say the book is rich in stories
and photographs.
The individual stories of these WASPS and WACS and Marines are real and often heroic. Like their male
counterparts, the women contributed to the legendary “The Greatest Generation.”
When a reluctant Franklin Roosevelt, pushed by his feminist wife Eleanor, cleared the way for women to
serve in the military, Aunt Flo (Flora Ausenbaugh) was ready, even if the barracks weren’t. The
37-year-old beautician from North Baltimore was one of the first women to sign up. Her reward, besides a
man’s size 42 army great coat, was to become a witness to history. She crossed and recrossed the
Atlantic in two majestic queens  — ships converted to wartime discomfort and service.
In England she worked as a Communication Specialist buried, for safety, three stories beneath the earth.
She was one of those women you see working in the background while men make fateful decisions during
tense World War II movies. She even had a friendship story to tell whose ending she never knew and that
brought her to tears over the decades.
After graduating from North Baltimore High School Peg wanted adventure before college and, inspired by
Aunt Flo joined the Navy. After seven years, Navy love still intact, she went on to college and a
Masters Degree, building a second career in education, physical education and coaching.  It was a third
career of photography that brought her again into the world of Aunt Flo, discovering new “aunts” in
these “sisters of war.”
There was Joan DeMunbrun — a beautician from North Dakota who discovered photography in the army. It then
became her life’s work. Her grim task was to photograph young airmen, so there would be pictures to send
to the families if/when they were killed.
Ruth Guinan, a nurse from Maryland, was with a traveling hospital unit from New Jersey that in effect
followed Paton’s army from North Africa through Europe. She was famous/infamous as the nurse who gave
the general a certain rear end treatment.
Freda Asmundson, a Kansas child of the depression was a army contract nurse when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Her story of heroic efforts as the wounded came in a seemingly endless stream still burned in her as she
shared with Trout.
How would you like to tow a target for anti-aircraft guns to target? Dorothea Shultz did. Norma Gallagher
at age 18 lived the legendary times of “The Right Stuff” at Edwards Air Force before mamma found out she
wanted to go overseas. Norma was sent home in underage disgrace.
Through photographs and thoughtful interviews Peg Trout has created wonderful portraits of a diverse
group of woman you would really want to know — each and everyone.

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