An Executive Assistant turned an "Hello Girl" during WWI: Inez Ann Murphy Crittenden

Inez Crittenden was an American communications volunteer, also known as an “Hello Girl.” Inez Ann Murphy Crittenden was born in September 1887, and raised in a bi-lingual (French and English) household. She never received a formal education, but through natural instincts and a disciplined approach to her job, she gained the trust and confidence of employers. When war broke out, Inez was working as the Executive Assistant of a San Francisco packing company and had recently served as chief negotiator for a business deal. That accomplishment provided ample evidence of her skill as a manager, leader, negotiator, and as a mature professional; all of which she included in her application as an Operator to the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Dec. 1917. After passing a French language test, she was selected to join by Signal Corps leadership, becoming Chief Operator, 2nd Telephone Unit. The Signal Corps had decided that the Operators should be integrated into the military as much as possible, to include wearing a military uniform. In April 1918, Inez and the 2nd Unit embarked aboard the SS Carmania (an ocean liner converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser for WWI service, until combat damage forced a conversion to Troop Transport) to cross the Atlantic Ocean. When the 2nd Unit arrived in France they received orders to set up a telephone exchange in Paris in support of American Expeditionary Force (AEF) operations. Sadly, Inez died of complications of influenza (the famous, but misnamed “Spanish Flu”) on November 11, 1918 – on Armistice Day. She was 31 years old, and was buried at Suresnes American Cemetery, France.

Inez Ann Murphy Crittenden's headstone at Suresnes American Cemetery
Inez Ann Murphy Crittenden is buried at Suresnes American Cemetery, France.