Veterans Day: 'Rosie the Riveter' remembers Veteran husband and WWII

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

Mary Fierros, 98, invited ABC7 News into her San Jose home. Every wall is covered with memories of a different time.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Many of us are familiar with the title and image of 'Rosie the Riveter.' The name is associated with the millions of women who went to work during World War II.

One of the last 'Rosies' is living in the South Bay.

Mary Fierros, 98, invited ABC7 News into her San Jose home. Every wall is covered with memories of a different time. Pictures, letters from past presidents, and more reflect a time when the draft and enlistment of American men left a labor shortage across the country.

"My husband was drafted," Fierros explained. "I followed him all the way from San Jose to Los Angeles in my '32 Chevrolet."

The move put Fierros in a tough position. She said she needed to find work. Fierros soon became one of the millions of women across the United States who filled the labor force during the war. She became part of the iconic group, represented by the historic image of 'Rosie the Riveter.'

"They gave me the rivets. I was puzzled," Fierros said. "I had never even seen a rivet in my life."

Fierros said she worked on a B-29 aircraft, and spent more than a year as a riveter.

Her husband's military life then took him to a base in Texas; Fierros followed.

She explained her husband also served overseas, spending some time in Okinawa, Japan.

Her husband, Sergeant Mike Fierros was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Air Forces in March of 1946. The two made their final move back to San Jose.

Fierros said she and her husband lived out the final decades of their 75 year marriage, together. Then, Sgt. Fierros grew gravely ill in 2012.

She explained her husband contracted malaria while serving in Okinawa. She said his death certificate said he died of, "Unknown Dementia."

Fierros recalled the last moments the two spent together.

"As I hugged him, he looked at me, and I noticed his eyes were fading," she explained.

Through tears, Fierros continued, "He says, 'Honey, you know I love you very, very much.' And those were his last words to me."

Today, there isn't a wall in her home without a sign of her husband's service to the United States.

She told ABC7 News she has also arranged for her headstone to reflect her contributions to our country.

"I said, 'I was Rosie the Riveter in WWII, I served my country. I worked with the Southern Pacific changing the oil and water on the freight trains and I want recognition," Fierros said about her conversation with a manager in charge of headstone arrangements. "I want my headstone to read, 'Rosie the Riveter, from WWII.' He said, 'You got it!'"

Indeed, her headstone reads, "Mary J Fierros, Rosie the Riveter ID P-02617."