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Former mathematical analyst continues to serve at MacDill

by Capt. Rebecca Coyle
6th Medical Support Squadron

Courtesy photo

Edna Rankin (left) poses with her sister.

Many of MacDill's volunteers have a long history of service to their country, and for one particular volunteer at MacDill's PharmaCARE Center the story is no different.

Edna Rankin graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts, concentrating in mathematics. After graduation she was trained in the electronic engineering department at General Electric. In early 1943, she enlisted with the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps while her sister enlisted in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services. Mrs. Rankin reenlisted when the WAAC became the Women's Army Corps. She was sent to Daytona Beach, Fla., for basic training then given orders to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.

Using data from the Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, Calif., she was assigned to help develop bombing tables for the Ballistics Research Lab because of her mathematics background. Bombing tables were used to calculate the trajectory of a bomb, which enabled prediction of the bomb's landing site from its release.

The procedure for developing the bombing tables began with computer-generated calculations. Manual calculations performed by Mrs. Rankin's group were used to insure accuracy.

More than once she volunteered for overseas duty, but her supervisors insisted that APG was the right place for her, as few people were engaged in jobs that required the individual's major field of study.

At the end of World War II, Mrs. Rankin worked as a civilian at APG, then married a Navy officer in December 1945. In 1966 she earned a masters degree in education from Temple University. After graduation she transitioned to teaching junior high and high school math to both mainstream and special education students.

She currently resides in Annapolis, Md., and has volunteered two days a week at the PharmaCARE Center the past four winters.

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