Corporal Germaine Laville

Corporal Germaine Laville


Laville lived in Plaquemine, La., graduated from LSU in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree in education and was a member of Chi Omega sorority. The oldest of seven children, she decided to represent her family in the World War II effort by enlisting in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in July, 1943.

Laville was stationed at the Aerial Gunnery School, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at the Cherry Point Naval Air Station in North Carolina, where she served as an aerial gunnery instructor. She was promoted to corporal Feb. 10, 1944.

On June 3, 1944, nine civilian men were cleaning the two-story, wooden Synthetic Training Building where Laville worked. They accidentally sprayed the highly flammable floor wax they used onto frayed electrical wiring. Within minutes the entire building was engulfed in flame.

Temperatures of almost 1,000 degrees and thick black smoke did not deter Laville from performing her duty. She rushed to the top floor of the building to warn other Marines. Laville died helping others escape the burning building. She was one of five Marines to perish in the fire and one of only two female Marines to lose her life in active duty during the war.

While Laville has not been posthumously decorated for her bravery, she received a citation for heroism and is honored in Marine training. An obstacle on the final training course, the Crucible, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C., is named “Cpl. Laville’s Duty.” The obstacle involves two platforms and six tires suspended from a beam. Marines must use teamwork, communication and commitment to get from one platform to the other. A library at the depot is also named in her honor. 





Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana, USA
DEATH 3 Jun 1944 (aged 22)


Craven, Rowan County, North Carolina, USA

PlaquemineIberville ParishLouisianaUSA

PLOT Section 3 Row 2 Plot 59-60
MEMORIAL ID 143936845 · View Source

Information and photos from:

LSU Reville WWII Museum Photos Corporal Germaine Laville, courtesy of the family of Germaine Laville