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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Arlene G. Scheidenhelm

WAC Commanding OfficerOak Ridge, TN

Manhattan Project VeteranMilitary VeteranProject Worker/Staff
Arlene G. Scheidenhelm. Photo courtesy of Joseph Gorman.

Arlene Gertrude Scheidenhelm (1908-1970) was the Director of the Women’s Army Corps for the Manhattan District.

Raised in Mendota, Illinois, Scheidenhelm graduated in 1932 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before entering the service, Scheidenhelm worked as a teacher in Illinois. Scheidenhelm enlisted on August 20, 1942, into the Women’s Army Corps as an Aviation Cadet. In March 1944, she succeeded First Lieutenant Frances W. House as the commanding officer of the WAC Detachment of the Manhattan District. In that role, Scheidenhelm was in command of almost 500 women who worked for the Manhattan Project. She selected these women, trained them, and supervised their work. After the war, she was awarded the War Department’s Legion of Merit.

Scheidenhelm was then transferred to the European Command, where she served until 1951. From 1954 until 1957, she served as Staff Director for the Fourth United States Army at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

Myrtle Bachelder (center) at Los Alamos in 1946, with Captain Arlene Scheidenhelm, Director of WAC, Manhattan District (left), and First Lieutenant Marguerite Carrera, Commanding Officer, WAC Los Alamos detachment (right)

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