Major Stephanie Rader was working in NYC when the war broke out and she volunteered to join the women’s Army Corps– along with 3,000 others. Rader is the inaugural recipient of the Virginia Hall award– which recognizes the contributions made by women to the US intelligence community and US Special Operations forces from WWII to present day.
Rader, who had a Masters degree in chemistry from Cornell University, was one of 800 women chosen to serve in the Corps.
She told NYT Live before she died in January at the age of 100, that the intelligence agency was looking for people who spoke different languages. She spoke Polish fluently and some French.
US Army Capt. Rader was sent to Warsaw’s underground but posed as an Embassy employee and a military spouse. She reported on Soviet troop movements and carried sensitive documents to and from her bosses. In civilian clothes, she traveled around Poland to collect information.
On a trip to Berlin, she carried sensitive documents to OSS headquarters and was asked to bring documents back to Warsaw from Berlin.
She had them with her when Russian security services were waiting to arrest her upon arriving in Poland. She managed to slip the documents over to someone next to her and got rid of them just in time.
Even after that incident, she insisted on staying in Poland to complete her mission.
Radar was honored posthumously during funeral services with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. The award she received, The Virginia Hall award, was created to recognize the women who played an exceptional role in the intelligence community.
American spy Virginia Hall was in London in 1941, when the British counterpart to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) sent her to Paris to help the French resistance. Hall, who posed as a correspondent with the NY Post, played a key role in helping to sabotage German military movements. She caused a lot of trouble for the Nazis.
Hall joined the OSS in 1944 to return to France–where she organized sabotage operations, supported resistance groups as a radio operator and courier, mapped drop zones, and trained three battalions of resistance forces to wage guerrilla warfare.
Women made up one-third of the OSS –which was a precursor to the CIA.
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