Paving the way: DiValerio among the first 19,000 females to join the United States Marine Corps in WWII

By Chris La Pelusa | May 20, 2010

SUN CITY – The battle of the sexes has been being waged practically since the Garden of Eden, but women in battle is a relatively new fact in American history. Only as recent as 1994 have women been able to take up arms on the battlefield alongside their male counterparts.

There is, of course, and probably always will be debate over if women should be on the front lines. But Freedom of Choice is a hallmark of the American Way. More than anything, paving the way to give women the right to fight for their country is just what Ann DiValerio, N.5, did by becoming one of the first 19,000 American women to join the United States Marine Corps in 1943.

“I was just proud to be an American and that I could do my little bit,” said DiValerio. “Everybody was really patriotic then. They wanted to join. They were joining by the thousands. That’s why I joined.”

DiValerio was working at the Chicago Public Library. She thought, “Well, they can do without me for a while. So I joined the Marine Corps and went to camp Lejeune in November.”

She first planned to join the Marines in April of 1943, only a month after women were being accepted, but she was only 19 and was told she had to be 20 to enlist. So DiValerio waited until a week after her birthday in August.

DiValerio said she was first inspired to enlist by her then-fiancé, a Marine already serving in the Pacific theater. In November of that same year, while DiValerio was in Marine Corp boot camp, she was delivered the news that her fiancé had been killed in action in the beach landing at Taroa. His sacrifice earned him the Silver Star.

After graduating boot camp, DiValerio was assigned to the Marine base library in San Diego. Read more here