Opha May Johnson Project
In 1918, Opha May Johnson was the first of 300 plus women who showed up to take one of billets left open as our men went to war. She even typed up her own enlistment contract and had to have her husbands permission to join our beloved Corps. She opened the doors that we followed, as the generations that followed and continued to open more doors. Now is the time to honor her memory and her place in Marine Corps history.
Opha May and her husband Victor are buried in St Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery. Sadly in unmarked graves that have not been kept up. Over the past several years many have tried to get this oversight corrected to no avail. WMA has now taken the lead on this project to honor our first Marine to join. As of October 1, 2017, WMA Board of Directors has authorized an ad-hoc committee to work on this initiative and accomplish this mission. The committee members are:
Kathy Sheppard – Chair
Nancy Wilt – WOCC Historian/Curator
Kathleen Potthoff – Committee Secretary
Cecily Thorton – Operations Manage, St Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery
Father Allan Johnson Tayler – Pastor St Paul’s Church
Jim Jones – Historian, St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery
Nick Steven – VA Memorial Products
Jim Rudolph – Owner, Veteran’s Funeral Care
Carol Mutter- Honorary Member
Don Gardner – Honorary Member
We now have a timeline in place and working toward completing the major portions of the project by the end of July 2018.
The concept is to clean up the area of the grave sites, get Opha May her VA marker that she earned as well as erect a gravestone monument that would commemorate her place in history as WWI veteran and our first Marine. The grave of her husband will also be properly marked. Designs are still in the planning stages. We are currently working with the Marine Corps Museum to get a bronze plaque placed at the Museum commemorating her service as the first woman Marine.
It is our hopes that many will donate to honor the contributions that Opha made as our first trailblazer. You can read more and donate here.
You can also mail your donations to: OMJP c/o Women Marines Association, PO Box 377, Oaks, PA 19456-0377
In 2018 we will be celebrating the 100th year of women in the Marine Corps. It is going to be an exciting time as we celebrate this extraordinary anniversary with our national conference in DC and commemorate Opha May Johnson.
The point of contact for this project is Kathy Sheppard. She can be contacted at [email protected].
Updates can be found at the Opha May Johnson Monument Project page. Check often for current information.
Thanks in advance for your support for this effort.