Saturday, January 7, 2012

United States Marine Corps
Women Marines

The United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve (USMCWR), established in 1942 as a part of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, was a Reserve unit which provided women for shore duty in the Marine Corps to take over jobs so men could be released for combat duty.

Historical context - women in the Marine Corps

In 1918, the Secretary of the Navy allowed women to enlist for clerical duty in the Marine Corps. Officially, Opha Mae Johnson is credited as the first woman Marine. Johnson enlisted for service on August 13, 1918; during that year some 300 women first entered the Marine Corps to take over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines who were needed overseas.

Beginnings; World War II service

The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established in February 1943. The first director of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was Mrs. Ruth Cheney Streeter from Morristown, New Jersey. By the end of World War II, 85 percent of the enlisted personnel assigned to Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps were women.

The first group of women officers was given direct commissions based on ability and civilian expertise. These women were given no formal indoctrination or schooling, but went on active duty immediately. Women Marines 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.

After the war; Retention for active duty

On June 7, 1946, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Alexander A. Vandegrift approved the retention of a small number of women on active duty. They would serve as a trained nucleus for possible mobilization emergencies. The demobilization of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, 17,640 enlisted and 820 officers, was to be completed by September 1, 1946. Of the 20,000 women who joined the Marine Corps during World War II, only 1,000 remained in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve by July 1, 1946.

June 12, 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 Reserves were mobilized for the Korean War and 2,787 women were called to active duty. By the height of the Vietnam War, there were about 2,700 women Marines served both stateside and overseas. By 1975, the Corps approved the assignment of women to all occupational fields except infantry, artillery, armor and pilot/air crew. Over 1,000 women Marines were deployed in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991.

The women Marines, also known to us old timers as "(BAM's) Broad-Ass-Marines" have continued to serve the Corps at most Marine Corps Bases and have contributed much in combat zones. The Marine Corps first found a "Few good Men" and we are proud to say the Corps found a "Few good Women."