Galesburg's 'Rosie the Riveter' honored

Local wartime hero riveted B-17 flying fortresses, helped create bombs

GALESBURG - Julia Mattocks has been called Galesburg's "Rosie the Riveter."

At 99 years old she was one of the women who joined the workforce to help troops during World War II. The local wartime hero is being honored for her work more than 70 years later.

She riveted B-17 flying fortresses and helped create bombs. That dangerous work left her with her own version of wartime scars.

"You'd have thought the butcher man had been there," Mattocks said. "There was blood on the sheets, on the pillow slips... I don't know what all, and in the meantime, that stuff had affected my eyes, so that in the mornings when I woke up, I couldn't see."

Not only did she receive a congressional record statement Tuesday from Rep. Cheri Bustos, but three students have teamed up to help tell Mattocks' story.

Eighth grader Caleb Oxley help write a book about her.

"I think it felt very good because she deserves the story," Oxley said. "She's a very inspiring woman."

High school seniors Ravynn Norvell and Katherine Estrada helped bring the story to life through pictures.

"It was just like an amazing experience to get to write something about someone who did something really important for our country," Norvell said.

Estrada said "it was a great privilege getting to meet Julia, and then make the story come to life. It was really exciting."

Mattocks said she appreciates what they've done.

"I think it's wonderful," Mattocks said. "It couldn't be better, and that's the way I really look."

She always felt her work was just her contribution to America.

"This is my country," Mattocks said. "You go to grade school, and you sing the songs. Boy... this your country. That's all I can tell you, is I love my country."

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