The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Solutions paid tribute to WWII U.S. Navy veteran Ruth Schmelzer Potier of Sturgeon Bay, and her family, in conjunction with Monday’s game against Detroit. Operation Fan Mail, the program that recognizes military families and veterans at each Packers home game, is marking its 15th season in 2021.
In January 1943, Potier was the first Door County woman to enlist in the Navy and was sworn into the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) as part of the second regiment nationwide. Three brothers who were already serving in WWII were her inspiration. At that time, enlistment was for the duration of the war.
Potier graduated at the top of her basic-training class and worked in the disbursing office at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Millington, Tennessee. Later, she transferred to the travel office to arrange routes for sailors shipping out by rail. She also marched in a New York City parade in front of Mayor LaGuardia.
After her Navy service, Potier was a nursing assistant at Door County Memorial Hospital for 14 years. Now, at age 99, with help from her children, she lives in her own home and remains a loyal Packers fan.
To nominate a fan or family for next season’s Operation Fan Mail, submit an essay of 500 words or fewer about why someone should be saluted to Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628 or online at packers.com/lambeau-field/operation-fan-mail.