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Congressman Higgins Presents Women’s Army Corps Service Medal & Other Recognitions to 100 Year-Old Veteran Patricia Knibbs

Aug 24, 2017
Press Release
Niagara Falls Woman Served 73 Years Ago During WWII

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) was joined by City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, local representatives and members of the United States Army Buffalo Recruiting Station for a special presentation to 100 year-old World War II veteran and Niagara Falls resident Patricia Knibbs. 

“Mrs. Knibbs is a trailblazer who joined an exceptional band of women and defied customary roles more than seventy years ago to bravely serve our country,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.  “We are inspired by her initiative, captivated by her story and forever grateful for her service.”

City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "Now more than ever, the legacy created by Mrs. Knibbs and her commitment to putting country before self in some of its darkest and most challenging days should serve as a proud example to the men and women of the United States. I am honored to stand with Congressman Higgins and my fellow lawmakers to recognize a true American hero and thank her for her selfless dedication on behalf of a grateful city and nation."

“Niagara County is blessed to have such an individual who has left a legacy through her dedication to the United States of America, and I am proud to have Mrs. Knibbs as my constituent,” said Legislator Mark Grozio. 

Elma “Patricia” Erway (Mrs. Knibbs' maiden name) was born on February 4, 1917 and grew up on a 400-acre farm in Tidge County, Pennsylvania.  Ms. Erway attended Littlemarsh High School.  She began work as a stone inspector for the Carborundum Company in Niagara Falls, and then as a shell assembler for Dupont’s Ammunition Plant in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.  While working at Dupont she and a friend decided to join the military as members of the Women’s Army Corps.

Ms. Erway entered active service on January 12, 1944 and joined the Women’s Army Corps, where she earned the rank of Technician -- Fifth Grade.  She attended motor transport school in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia to be trained for her position of chauffeur for various military equipment and personnel.  As a chauffeur, Corporal Erway drove a staff car and was responsible for first echelon maintenance.  She went on to serve as a Corporal Technician, operating vehicles, driving officers, and eventually becoming a military police officer. During the war she also worked as a clerk in an overseas supply office, checking requisitions against stock on hand, monitoring incoming messages for orders and sending lists with equipment request to the freight department.

Mrs. Knibbs has fond memories of service; she was respected throughout her time in the military and formed bonds with many military members who became like brothers to her. She was honorably discharged after serving two years of in the Women’s Army Corps on March 9, 1946.

Later that year, on September 28, 1946, Patricia Erway married Clinton Knibbs.  They purchased their house in Niagara Falls’ LaSalle neighborhood in 1955 and she has lived there ever since.  Her husband was an Army medic, but left due to the hardships involved with his work. They had one son, named Daniel.  Mr. Knibbs passed away on April 6th, 1970.

Mrs. Knibbs remains very active. She enjoys exercising every morning, cooking, crocheting, sewing and participating in activities at the John Duke Center.   She previously worked as a seamstress and continues to work as a hairdresser.

At a ceremony at the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial in Hyde Park, Mrs. Knibbs was presented with the following medals earned 73 years ago for service in the U.S. Women’s Army Corps during World War II:

  • The Good Conduct Medal - awarded to members of the military who complete duty with “honorable and faithful service”
  • American Campaign Medal – awarded to honor soldiers who performed military service in the American Theater of Operations during World War II.
  • World War II Victory Medal - established by Congress in 1945 and presented to those who actively served between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946
  • Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII - representing an honorable discharge following service in World War II
  • Women’s Army Corps Medal - Created in 1943 by President Franklin Roosevelt to recognize the service of women during the Second World War. The profile featured on the medal is that of the goddess Pallas Athena.

Members of the Women’s Army Corps worked in more than 2,000 jobs stateside and in every theater of operation during World War II.  By 1945, there were more than 100,000 members and 6,000 female officers in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Throughout the war, an estimated 350,000 women served at home and abroad.