Women Marines / Female Marines
Women Marines / Female Marines
In secret, Lucy Brewer became the first woman to serve in the Marine Corps. Disguised as a gung-ho man, she served in the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Constitution during the War of 1812.
Over 100 years later on 12 August 1918, the Secretary of the Navy granted authority to enroll women for clerical duty in the Marine Corps Reserve. The next day, Opha M. Johnson enlisted and became the first official Woman Marine. During the remainder of World War I, 305 women enlisted to “free a man to fight.” Over 20 years later during World War II, roughly 1000 officers and 18,000 enlisted women served, led by Col. Ruth C. Streeter. During the last year of the war, all available male Marines were battling the Japanese in the Pacific. In their absence, Women Marines represented over half of the personnel at Marine Corps bases in the continental United States.
A year after the end of the war, the Marine Corps retained a small nucleus of Women Marines in a postwar reserve. But, in 1948 Congress passed the Women’s Armed Forces Integration Act, which authorized women in the regular component of the Corps. At the time, women could not constitute over two percent of the total force and could not hold permanent rank above lieutenant colonel. Katherine A. Towle was appointed Director of Women Marines with the temporary rank of colonel. The following year the Corps set up a recruit training battalion for women recruits at Parris Island, and a women’s officer training class at Quantico.
During the Vietnam war in March 1967, MSgt. Barbara Dulinsky requested reassignment from the United States to Vietnam. She was transferred to the main military headquarters (MACV) in Saigon, the first Woman Marine to be sent to a country torn by war. But, seven years later the Commandant authorized Women Marines to serve with specialized rear echelon elements of the Fleet Marine Force. Still, these women were prohibited from deployment with combat units, or units which could conceivably be engaged in combat. Women were specifically banned from all infantry, artillery, and armor units, and they could not serve as members of aircrews.
In May 1978, BGen. Margaret Brewer became the first general grade Woman Marine, serving as Director of Information. Twenty-two years later roughly 1000 Women Marines deployed to Southwest Asia in 1990-1991, prior to and during the Gulf War. Later, because of legal mandates, the Corps was forced to accept women into Naval Aviation pilot training. In July 1993, 2ndLt. Sarah Deal became the first such Woman Marine to begin training. She graduated and received her Golden Wings on 21 April 1995.
The next year MGen. Carol A. Mutter became the first two-star Woman Marine. Two years later she was promoted again, the first Woman Marine to wear three stars. By the turn of the century in the year 2000, over 700 Woman Marines comprised about four percent of the officer corps. And, slightly over 8000 Woman Marines made up roughly five percent of the active enlisted force.
The elite Marine Corps remains the only U.S. armed service with the wisdom and courage to maintain separate boot camp training units for men and women recruits. Despite the childish whining of liberal theorists, despite the rabid ranting of ignorant politically correct zealots, the Marine Corps has not faltered. Basic training for men and women will remain separate — but equal. All who qualify will earn the title, United States Marine.
Famous Female Marine Firsts: Women Marines in History.
- Opha Mae Johnson — recognized officially as the first female Marine
- Captain Anne Lentz, a clothing expert who helped design Marine Corps uniforms was commissioned into the Corps in 1943 being the first female commissioned officer.
- Staff Sgt. Barbara Olive Barnwell, in 1953, became the first female Marine to be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism after saving a fellow Marine from drowning near Camp Lejeune, N.C.
- In 1960, Master Gunnery Sgt. Geraldine Moran was the first female Marine promoted to the rank of E-9. Following her, in 1961, Sgt. Maj. Bertha Peters Billeb was the first female Marine to put on the rank of sergeant major.
- In 1978 Col. Margaret Brewer was serving as the deputy director of the Division of Information at Headquarters Marine Corps when she pinned on the rank of brigadier general. Brewer became the first female general officer.
- In 2003, Capt. Vernice “Flygirl” Armour became the Marine Corps’ first black female pilot and was recognized by the Department of Defense for being America’s first black female combat pilot with combat missions in Iraq.
Today, women make up 6.2 percent of the Marine Corps and occupy 93 percent of all occupational fields. Women Marines continue to carry on the traditions of the Marine Corps as they open doors for other Marines to follow along that same path.