Helen Sadowski wanted to see more of the world. She grew up in a small town in southern New Jersey and had spent some time in Philadelphia (or “the big city,” as she calls it), but she wanted more from life than what her small town could offer (which, in her words, was nothing).

So when she strolled past a Navy recruitment center in Camden, N.J., one day, she saw her opportunity.

“I went home that night, and my mom had life insurance policies for all the kids … and I told her I needed the number for my life insurance policy, and she said ‘What in the world do you need that for?’ and I said, ‘I joined the Navy today,’ and she flipped,” Sadowski recalls, laughing. “But it was the best thing I did, joining the Navy.”

Sadowski, now 89, attended yeoman school in San Diego, where she learned how to do clerical work for the Navy. She served for 20 years and became a petty officer 1st class. Her days mostly revolved around typewriters, carbon copies and stencils, but she got to travel across the country while doing it. She worked in San Francisco (“Sin City”), the Great Lakes, Newport, R.I., and was stationed at Pearl Harbor before Hawaii became a state.

She still keeps in contact with some of the people she was stationed with, Sadowski said. That’s one of the best parts about service — the friendships that come out of it.

“The camaraderie — you can’t beat the camaraderie.”

We honor you, Helen Sadowski.

(#Repost @WHYY)