Clara Gordon Main joined the U.S. Merchant Marines in 1927. As a stewardess, she was the only female crew member aboard the SS President Harrison off the coast of China on December 8, 1941, when the crew was taken prisoner in what is believed to be one of the first examples of Americans taken as POWs by the Japanese. Thus, it is believed she was the first female POW of WWII. Main is credited with keeping the crew calm and professional during the arrest, and was later awarded the Merchant Marine Meritorious Service Medal. She remained a Japanese POW in Shanghai until she was released in 1943 but stayed in service to the Merchant Marine until her retirement in 1953.

Clara Gordon Main, WWII Merchant Marine

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