PHILADELPHIA — Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay participated in a ceremony Sunday at the Westmont Fire Company, in Haddon Township, New Jersey, to celebrate the centennial birthday and military service of Charlotte Bart, who served in the Coast Guard Reserve during World War II.
Bart, a native of Westmont, New Jersey, turned 100 on October 2.
"It was an honor to celebrate Charlotte’s 100th birthday," said Lt. Malia Hindle, who serves in Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay's emergency management division. "Her service to our nation is truly incredible and her love and pride for the Coast Guard was especially clear as she sang the SPARS song from memory. Her service led the way for women throughout the organization."
The surprise ceremony for Bart was attended by family, friends, local community members and current and former Coast Guard members including retired Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara, the Coast Guard’s second woman to serve as vice commandant of the Coast Guard.
Additionally, Bart was presented recognition coins and letters from the Coast Guard commandant and master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard.
In February 1943, Bart enlisted into the Coast Guard SPARs, the all-female workforce that was mobilized during World War II. SPARs, an acronym for the Coast Guard's motto, Semper Paratus - Always Ready, served in various shore-side roles on the home front, which freed up men to fight abroad and at sea. Bart, who served as a transportation specialist, was one of more than 10,000 women who volunteered for service between 1942 and 1946.
Bart joined the Coast Guard in Norfolk, Virgina, after a ban was lifted that prevented husbands and wives from enlisting into the same service. Charlotte’s husband, William “Bill” Conrad Bart, had joined the Coast Guard a few months earlier - the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1942.
"When I enlisted, I was the first wife to enlist in the Fifth District," said Bart. "I wore an arm band that said SPAR on it. I went to Palm Beach, Florida, for boot camp."
Bart said after basic training she was assigned to transportation school where she learned to drive and maintain trucks and busses.
"There was a mechanic school in Miami where they taught us how to clean carburetors and cylinders. There were four SPARS that attended the school. The SPARS were great friends, and we were from all different parts of the United States. I transferred to Charleston, South Carolina, for my duty Station," said Bart.
After her tour of duty ended, Bart decided it was time to start a family and pursue a nursing career.
"My time in the SPARS ended in April 1946, I was a seaman third class," said Bart.
Bart said she enjoyed almost everything about being a SPAR, but the best part of serving in the Coast Guard was spending time with the other women she served with.
“I have three children, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren. I lived a full life,” said Bart.