Cpl. Veronica Byrnes Bradley, United States Marine Corps, was one of the first 25 women to serve in the corps, enlisting in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve when she was 19 years old. On February 28, at the age of 95, Bradley passed away after suffering a stroke.
The Marine Corps plans to honor Bradley later this month, according to NewsTimes, and her ashes will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was formed during World War II in 1942 to enlist women who could take on the jobs of male Marines stationed stateside so they could fight the Axis overseas. The Army, Navy, and Coast Guard had already started enlisting women in reserve units to take the jobs of men, similar to the civilian work of the Rosies — women who built aircraft for the military during WWII.
Cpl. Veronica “Ronnie” Bradley was stationed at Santa Barbara, California, where she performed aircraft repair. She also had the distinction of being the face of the Women’s Reserve, featured on its recruitment poster.
“BE A MARINE. FREE A MARINE TO FIGHT.” That was the slogan on the posters which featured Bradley in uniform in front of an aircraft. The poster was used around the country to recruit more women to join the Marines.
“We’d like to thank Cpl. Veronica Byrnes Bradley for her incredible service to the Marine Corps and the proud history she helped imbue into generations of Marines,” Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement.
“We offer condolences to family & friends of Marine Corporal Veronica Byrnes Bradley (New Milford) who passed away today. She was the face of recruiting for the Women’s Marine Corps,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said on Twitter. “Cpl. Veronica Byrnes Bradley recently received the WWII Victory Medal & CT Wartime Service Medal in a ceremony with fellow women Marines. Connecticut is grateful for her service during WWII & for setting the stage for women to serve in the military.”
As one of the first women to enlist in the Marine Corps, Bradley was a pioneer for women serving today, and her distinguished service set the bar high for all the women who would come after her. Bradley, however, was humble about her service and contribution to women serving in the military, telling NewsTimes last November, “I had a sense of being a good American.”
Semper Fidelis, Marine.