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United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve

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Title: United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve  
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Subject: Charlene Pryer, 1943, Women in the United States Navy, Hispanic Americans in World War II, United States Marine Corps
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United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve

The United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve served in two World Wars before becoming a part of the regular United States Marine Corps.

World War I service

Faced with manpower shortages in 1918, Major General Commandant [1]

On 13 August 1918, Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marines. 305 women entered the Marine Corps in 1918, taking over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines needed overseas. The women were nicknamed Marinettes.[2]

World War II service

The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was officially established on 13 February 1943. The first director of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was WACs, WAVES, and WASPs, one female reporter thought of the name "BAM"s for "Beautiful American Marines"; however many male Marines called them the derogatory term "Broad Ass Marines".[4]

However, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Holcomb who authorized the mobilization of women into the Corps on February 13, 1943, was emphatic that the Women Marine reservists were not to be ascribed any sort of nickname. In a March 1944 issue of Life magazine, he announced, “They are Marines. They don't have a nickname and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere at a Marine post. They inherit the traditions of Marines. They are Marines.” [5][6]


Initially, the Marine Corps relied upon the Navy's training facilities for both its officers and its enlisted women. Classes began in March 1943 for both officer candidates and recruits. The first group of women officers received direct commissions, based on their ability, education, and civilian expertise. On 13 March 1943, just one month after the Marine Corps began accepting women, the first class of officer candidates began training at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The first class of recruits (722) completed their recruit training at Hunter College in The Bronx, New York. In July 1943, the Marine Corps transferred the officer and recruit training to more permanent facilities in New River, North Carolina. Nearly 19,000 women would complete their training at New River during the course of the war.[7]


The women were assigned to over 200 different jobs, among them: radio operator, photographer, parachute rigger, driver, aerial gunnery instructor, cook, baker, quartermaster, control tower operator, motion picture operator, auto mechanic, telegraph operator, cryptographer, laundry operator, post exchange manager, stenographer, and agriculturist. They would serve as the trained nucleus for possible mobilization emergencies. The demobilization of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve of 820 officers and 17,640 enlisted was to be completed by 1 September 1946. Of the 20,000 women who had joined the Marine Corps during World War II, only 1,000 remained in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve on 1 July 1946.

On 12 June 1948, the United States Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, and made women a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps.

In 1950, the Women Marine Corps Reserves mobilized for the Korean War and 2,787 women were called to active duty. By the height of the Vietnam War, about 2,700 women had served both stateside and overseas. By 1975, the Marine Corps had approved the assignment of women to all occupational fields, except the infantry, artillery, armor, and pilot-air crew. Over 1,000 women were deployed in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990–1991.


  • 1918 – Private Opha Mae Johnson, the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve
  • 1943 – Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter, first Director of Women Marine Reservists
  • 1943 – Captain Anne Lentz, first commissioned officer
  • 1943—Private Lucille McClarren, first enlisted woman
  • 1945—First detachment of women Marines arrives in Hawaii for duty.
  • 1947—First female warrant officer in the Corps — Lotus Mort[8]
  • 1948 – President Harry Truman signs Public Law 625 (the Women's Armed Services Integration Act) on June 30, 1948. It incorporates the women's service organizations, like the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, into the regular military on a permanent basis. Colonel Katherine A. Towle was declared the first Director of Women Marines.
  • 1948 – First group of women sworn into the regular Marine Corps[9]
  • 1960 – First woman Marine is promoted to E-9 — Master Gunnery Sergeant, Geraldine M. Moran.[10]
  • 1961 – The first woman Marine is promoted to Sergeant Major (E-9) — Bertha Peters Billeb.[8]
  • 1965 – The Marine Corps assigns the first woman to attaché duty. Later, she is the first woman Marine to serve under hostile fire.
  • 1967 – President Johnson signs Pub.L. 90–130. This removes many of the restrictions on women in the military imposed by Public Law 625. Female officers can be promoted to (Colonel) and above.
  • 1975 – The term Woman Marine is discontinued; all women in the Marine Corps are considered Marines. Women are allowed in every occupation or billet except Infantry, Artillery, and pilot-aircrew, because of general service restrictions.
  • 1978 – Colonel Margaret A. Brewer is promoted to Brigadier General, becoming the first woman Marine general officer
  • 1979 – The Marine Corps assigns the first women as embassy guards.
  • 1985 – Colonel Gail M. Reals is the first woman selected by a board of general officers to advance to brigadier general.
  • 1992 – Brigadier General Carol A. Mutter assumes command of the 3d Force Service Support Group, Okinawa, the first woman to command a Fleet Marine Force unit at the flag level.
  • 1993 – The Marine Corps opens pilot positions to women.
  • 1993 – 2nd Lieutenant Sarah Deal became the first woman Marine selected for Naval aviation training.[11]
  • 1994 – Brigadier General Mutter became the first woman major general in the Marine Corps, and the senior woman on active duty in the armed services.
  • 1995 – The first female Marine pilot — Sarah Deal — pins on Naval flight wings[11]
  • 1996 – Lieutenant General Mutter became the first woman Marine, and the first woman in the history of the armed services to wear three stars.
  • 1997 – The first women Marines attend Marine Combat Training.

Women serve in 93 percent of all occupational fields and 62 percent of all billets. Women constitute 6.2 percent of the Corps end strength.

  • 2013 - Major Nicole Aunapu Mann became the first woman Marine officer to be accepted into the [NASA]space program as an astronaut.[1]

See also


  1. ^ pp. 42-43 Zeinert, Karen Those Extraordinary Women of World War I Twenty-First Century Books, 2001
  2. ^ p. 12 Schwartz,Heather E. Women of the U.S. Marine Corps: Breaking Barriers Capstone, 01/01/2011
  3. ^ Clendening, Logan (30 April 1943). "Women's Field Army in the Fight on Cancer". Berkeley Daily Gazette. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  4. ^ p.62 Rottman, Gordon US Marine Corps 1941-45 Osprey Publishing, 18/09/2012
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^
  7. ^ Meid, Pat (Maj) (1964). Marine Corps Women's Reserve in World War II. Washington, D.C.: Marine Corps Historical Reference Series. p. 99. 
  8. ^ a b Lacy, Linda Cates (2004). We are Marines!. Women Marines Association. p. 43. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  9. ^ Lacy, Linda Cates (2004). We are Marines!. Women Marines Association. p. 44. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  10. ^ Wilson, Captain Barbara A., USAF (Ret). """Military Women "Firsts. American Women in Uniform. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 

Further reading

  • Ebbert, Jean, and Marie-Beth Hall. The First, the Few, the Forgotten: Navy and Marine Corps Women in World War I (Naval Institute Press, 2002)
  • Litoff, Judy Barrett, and David C. Smith. "The Wartime History of the Waves, SPARS, Women Marines, Army and Navy Nurses, and WASP's." in A Women's War Too: US Women in the Military in World War II ed. by Paula Nassen Poulos.(Washington: National Archives and Records Administration, 1996)
  • Soderbergh, Peter A. Women Marines: The World War II Era (Praeger Publishers, 1992)
  • Soderbergh, Peter A. Women Marines in the Korean War Era (Praeger, 1994)
  • Stremlow, Colonel Mary V., USMCR (Ret) (1994). Free a Marine to Fight: Women Marines in World War II. Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. Washington, D.C.: Marine Corps Historical Center, United States Marine Corps. 

External links

  • Navy & Marine Corps World War II Commemorative Committee. "Article: Women in the Marine Corps". Archived from the original on 2006-05-06. Retrieved 2006-01-11. 

External links

  • USMCWR history and WWII women's uniforms in color — WWII US women's service organizations (WAC, WAVES, ANC, NNC, USMCWR, PHS, SPARS, ARC and WASP).
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