They got the news their senior year in high school.

While they stood at their lockers in Shoshoni, the principal handed Marge and Maggi Hayen a telegraph. Their big brother and hero had been killed in training in the Air Corps.

The identical twins went home and told their parents the news. Then they knew what they needed to do.

After graduation in 1943, they would serve their country, and honor their brother, the only way most women could. The 18-year-olds packed their bags and hopped on a train to San Diego to be living, breathing versions of Rosie the Riveter.

The country needed women to assemble planes. Their older sister, Edwina, worked at the Consolidated Aircraft factory and found them jobs.

They had already taken some math classes in Torrington and finished learning the specifics in San Diego. Soon they joined their sister for the trek to work each day.

Most of the women in the plant were wives of deployed men. While their husbands fought overseas, they worked at home, providing the labor young men used to supply.

Marge and Maggi were unique. The young women were inspired to help not because of their spouses, but remembering their brother.

Their tiny frames made them particularly useful.

About 5-foot-3 and slight, the twins took turns crawling in the tails of PBY42s. One lay on her back inside, hair covered by the now-iconic handkerchief, and held a bucking bar against the inside of the plane's skin.

The "bucker," as the inside worker was called, would tap against the plane, and the riveter would start on the other side.

In 1987 the Riverton Ranger wrote about Maggi's experience. She told the reporter she and her sister always wondered if the planes they helped build would actually fly.

Shortly after, an old friend of Maggi's called from Shoshoni to say he'd flown a PBY42 in the Atlantic Theatre.

"And it held together?" Marge asked, sitting next to her twin in her Shoshoni home.

"Yes, it held together, it flew."

"So we did a good job?"

"We did a good job."

It was hard work. The planes were hot and cramped, and traveling around San Diego was crowded, especially for two girls from rural Wyoming.

But they explored a new city and enjoyed entertainment during their lunch hours.

Bob Crosby came once, and so did Skinnay Ennis, a regular on Bob Hope's radio show and one of Maggi's favorites.

Unfortunately, about four months after the twins started their work, on the same day Skinnay Ennis was scheduled, Maggi noticed something strange in her reflection in the plane.

"I tapped on the skin, and that meant for Marge not to rivet because I wasn't ready, and I got out of the plane and said I don't feel good."

Marge told her she looked like she had the measles.

And she did.

Maggi went to the first aid office, and both sisters missed Skinnay Ennis.

"And I never went alone without you," Marge said.

They went there together; they would go home together.

After four months squished inside plane tails, Marge and Maggi said goodbye to San Diego, caught a bus and went home to Missouri Valley. Their father needed help on the farm, and without any sons, the twins once again filled a typically male role.

Both look back fondly on their time as Riveters. They were young and enthusiastic and part of a movement.

Each went on to marry, Marge to Bud Currah, a Navy man who served in the Pacific. Maggi married Donald Layton. For most of their lives they stayed in Wyoming, and each raised six children: Marge six boys, Maggi three boys and three girls.

They have matching white Rosie the Riveter socks and red caps with her "We Can Do It" slogan. Maggi used to have a T-shirt, too, but gave it to a young woman working on a history project on Riveters.

Both women volunteer. They grew up staying busy and working hard and don't want to stop.

They turn 85 on Tuesday, a date they said in unison.

Marjorie "Marge" Currah

Age: 84

During the war: Rosie the Riveter

Family: Married, six children

Her words: "Then our sister would come around every once in a while and check it out." She was an airplane inspector.

Margaret "Maggi" Layton

Age: 84

During the war: Rosie the Riveter

Family: Married, six children

Her words: "It was because of our size that we were riveters. They put us in the small parts of the plane."

Next week’s profile: His plane was hit. Staff Sgt. Kazmer Rachak and the navigator jumped, predicting inevitable destruction. What happened to his crew was worse than a fiery death.


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