More than just an American Red Cross volunteer: Emily Harper Rea

Emily Harper Rea joined the American Red Cross (ARC) in 1943. The ARC provided recreational services to servicemen in different theatres of operations. Service clubs were set up in London and towns near Army installations, and on airbases, and provided food and accommodation. London Green Buses were converted into Red Cross Club Mobiles which could be taken to camps and airbases. These mobiles always served doughnuts and coffee free of charge to the servicemen, as well as cigarettes, life saver candy, gum and music. Rea was initially stationed in England as a staff assistant based with the American Red Cross Officers Club in Bedford. She met Glenn Miller whom she presented with his Major’s Oaks when he was promoted. In turn, he gave her his Captain’s bars as a keep sake. She was then transferred to Paris after D-Day to serve as a Red Cross Club mobile program director. She was particularly popular with the troops. One serviceman described her as a "mother, kid sister, and girlfriend" all rolled into one.
On April 14, 1945, Rea was on a flight to Northern Ireland with the 306th Bomb Group, on their way to spend some R&R. The plane crashed on the Isle of Man. Out of the 11 people who died in this plane crash, seven are buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, including Emily Harper Rea. When her body was recovered, so was her purse, which still contained Glenn Millers's Captain’s bars. They were buried with her.

Grave of Emily Harper Rea at Cambridge American Cemetery