Arsenal of Democracy

Skilled Workers Served in WWII at Ford’s River Rouge Plant

me-chester-jim-2-cropAt the Arsenal of Democracy conference at Willow Run, I met a man who had worked in the skilled trades at the Ford River Rouge complex, and had been apprenticed to an older man, after the war. One day they were talking about World War II, and he asked the older man, where had he served during the war?

“I served right here at River Rouge,” he answered. It turns out, when Ford found out the guy had been drafted, Henry Ford signed a letter stating that he was critical to plant operations, and was needed more at River Rouge than overseas. Of course, Ford had the power to do this because his plants, as well as all of Detroit’s auto industry, were busy producing the war materiel needed to fight.

The next day, the older tradesman brought in the framed letter, with Henry Ford’s signature. He still had it!

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