From the Office of the President
76th Anniversary Greeting
As we commemorate the 76th Anniversary of the establishment of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve on 13 Feb 1943, we cannot deny the importance of that date to our proud heritage of women’s service in the Corps. Women have earned the title “Marine” and have lived up to the high standards, demonstrating honor, courage and commitment.
From World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan women in the Corps continue to be key to readiness and mission accomplishment. The roles women filled have changed over time, but their quality performance and enthusiasm have not. As opportunities to serve increased, each generation of female Marines have stepped up to the challenge and paved the roads for future generations. Since the first woman donned a Marine Corps uniform female Marines have enriched our Corps’ history and enhanced our combat capability.
We are an elite group of women who share a unique bond of having served as U.S. Marines. It is important for us all to recognize the contributions of those women who have come before us and to commit ourselves to promoting these ideals, so today’s female Marines, can set the future course.
The Women Marines Association takes pride in its role in promoting and preserving the history of women who have served in the Marine Corps throughout the years. We have a proud heritage and history that has been written over time, through the trials and tribulations and the achievements and accomplishments of so many women Marines that have come before us because if not for them we would not have had the same opportunities presented to us in our time in the Corps. By our actions and contributions, we have proven over and over again our value to Corps and Country.
Here is to our historic past and to our promising future. Semper Fidelis!
Rhonda LeBrescu Amtower
WMA National President 2018-2020
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 3d 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 was completely integrated.
Read more at the Women Marine Association History Page