Most people may not know this fact, but women have been serving in the United States Marine Corps for over 100 years. And their service has always been in the honored Marine Corps traditions of: Honor, Courage and Commitment.
At the beginning of the American involvement in WWI in 1918, women were allowed to enlist in the Marine Corps. Thousands signed up and served. Then in February 1943, the USMC Women’s Reserve was formed and the first members received their training at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. A permanent training base was later built for that purpose in New River, NC.
The first woman to lead the Women Marines was Major Ruth Cheney Streeter. She recruited Women Marines with the motto: “Be a Marine, Free a Marine to Fight.”
Thousands would answer the call.
They were assigned to 200 MOSs in the Marine Corps from radio operators to parachute packers. And they did free up thousands of Marines to fight in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Streeter would retire at the rank of Colonel after commanding the United States Marine Corps Womens Reserve during WWII and was awarded the Legion of Merit. After the war 1,000 were retained on permanent duty.
In 1948, President Truman promoted the idea and Congress established the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which made it more possible for women to serve the country more fully in the all of the armed services.
2,700 Women Marines would serve again during the Korean War. In 1978, Margaret A. Brewer would become the first Woman Marine to reach the rank of General in the United States Marine Corps when she was made a Brigadier General. She would go on to command Women Marines, Norfolk, VA, Women Marines, Camp Lejeune, Woman Officer School, Director of Women Marines, Director of Information United States Marine Corps, Director of Public Affairs, United States Marine Corps. She was awarded the Legion of Merit twice.
Today, women serve in 93% of the Marine Corps MOSs. The Corps promoted its first female to command a Marine combat unit in 2015. She is Michelle Macander who was assigned to command the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. She will soon be wrapping up her tenure in that position as part of a routine change of command.
Female Marines now make up about 6% of the Marine Corps and have been integrated into many once forbidden roles. They are proving their Marine Corps “creds” as well. They have been in combat and received awards for bravery. Recently, the Marine Corps has begun an experiment to integrate Marine Corps boot camp. The Marine Corps still has the smallest percentage of women than all the other services. But every female Marine is instilled with the traditional esprit de corps of their male counterparts: “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
The Veterans Site honors and thanks all of the women who have chosen to serve in the United States Marine Corps. We say to them: OooRah! Semper Fi!Whizzco