Celebrating 80 years since the USMC Women Reserves
13 Feb 23
80 years ago, the slogan “Free a Marine to Fight” drew 19,000 women to the USMC Women Reserves during World War II. Today we are approximately 18,000 strong. We have moved from performing mainly clerical positions to filling combat infantry MOS slots worldwide.
Every generation questions if the next generation will fill the shoes of the past. Ask the women Marines who have recently completed the 54-hour Crucible recruit training or those who have completed the once male-only infantry and artillery training. They are creating legacies every day.
Earning the title of “Marine” is held with great pride. We wear the eagle, globe, and anchor for life. To be a woman Marine you are part of a sisterhood. You are never alone.
Our Marines of today are still breaking the barriers, making history, and in doing so, honoring those who came before. As we stop and celebrate this historical Anniversary, we should take pride in our accomplishments and the role we have each played in our Corps history and recognize how those contributions have led to today’s integrated Marine team.
As you celebrate, it is a time to reflect not only on the past – it is a time to reflect on the future and know that we all have a stake in forming the shape of our next generation of Marines.
Thank you for your service. Your service to the Corps, WMA and the community. Happy Anniversary Marines.
WMA National President
Part of Our Historic Timeline
1943 – 13 Feb: First day that enlistments officially open. Private Lucille McClarren first enlisted woman
1944 – 27 Sept: Overseas bill for women in the Naval services signed by the president.
1945 – 29 Jan First detachment of five officers and 160 enlisted women Marines arrives in Hawaii for duty
1946 – 1 Sept: Original terminal date set for Women’s Reserve. All WR units disbanded and most women returned to civilian life.
1947 – 17 Mar USMC—-—Woman Marine T/Sgt Mary Frances Wancheck of Bobtown, Pennsylvania became the first Woman Marine to rate a “hash mark.” She completed four years of service with the Marines this month.
1948 – 12 Jun: Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948 authorized 100 regular Women Marine officers, 10 warrant officers, and 1,000 enlisted in a gradual build-up over a two year period with regular candidates coming from Reserve Women Marines on active duty or those with prior service not on active duty. (MC Res Hist, pp. 121-122).
1949 – 28 Feb The 3rd Recruit Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island was reactivated for training non-veteran Women Marines. Women Marine recruits began arriving at Parris Island to form the first platoon of 50 Women Marine regulars to take a six—weeks training course. This is following the passage of The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948.
1949 – First black female Marines enlisted. The first African-American woman, Annie E. Graham of Detroit, Michigan, enlisted in the Marines. On the following day, Ann E. Lamb joined at New York City. The two women reported to Parris Island on September 10, 1949, and went through boot camp together with Platoon 5-A of the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. Both subsequently reported for duty at Headquarters Marine Corps.
1950 – Annie L. Grimes of Chicago, who was destined to become a chief warrant officer later in her career, joined and went to boot camp in February 1950. From the beginning, the reception, training, and housing of African-American women Marines were completely integrated.
Read more at the Women Marine Association History Page