World War II veterans of the American armed forces are mourning the loss of one of their greatest supporters, as Jean Hay, the host of the “Reveille with Beverly” radio show, passed away on September 18 at the age of 87.

Jean’s was the most remarkable of lives. In 1941, at the age of 24, she had the idea of creating a radio show aimed at boosting the morale of the American soldiers who were being called to duty. Though she had no broadcasting experience, Jean pitched the concept to KEFL in Denver, who immediately put her on the air under the name ‘Reveille with Beverly.’ From there it was on to Hollywood, where her show caught on so well with American GI’s that it came to be heard in 54 countries, making her the first global female disc jockey.

With a friendly “Hi fellas,” Jean would spin records by the popular artists of the day, including Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, and Artie Shaw. She became such an icon during the war that a feature movie was made about her, with Ann Miller in the role of “Beverly” and a cameo by Jean herself.

Her value to the troops’ morale could not be underestimated. “Beverly was one of our secret weapons,” said Artie Shaw. “Our entire military forces should have married her.”

Jean had stayed active in recent years, and had become close friends with Iva Toguri, the woman wrongly accused of being the infamous “Tokyo Rose,” who many had considered a rival of “Beverly.” She had recently appeared at the World War II Veterans Committee’s Seventh Annual Conference (pictured left) and was the recipient of the Committee’s 2003 Lillian Keil Award for Service for a Woman in World War II. Jean loved her role in helping to raise the morale of America’s fighting men, and was always grateful for the opportunities she had. “For the duration, I was the luckiest woman in the world,” she said last year. “It was one part of my life that I just couldn’t forget any detail.”