By: Jon D, Hodgin
She was born Winifred Baer on a dairy farm near the small town of Callicoon, New York on August 13, 1922. She graduated high school and then attended Albany State Teacher’s College, where she obtained a degree in education at the age of 19. She taught high school for one year. At the age of 20, she rode the train by herself to Grand Central Station in New York City and joined the US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve at the recruiting office there. Returning to the farm my grandfather asked her, “Do you know what you’re doing?” She reportedly said, yes, that she did. When he asked why, she reportedly said, “the Marines are the best and I like their hat.” She tells us that she had seen the newly designed uniform for the Women’s Marine Corps on the cover of Life magazine, reportedly designed by a French designer. It remains one of her greatest treasures and she proudly wears it on patriotic holidays.
She was posted to Camp Lejeune for boot camp. We believe that she was in one of the first companies of female Marines through Camp Lejeune. She states that immediately after boot camp, it became known that she had a been a teacher, and she was then assigned to the Instructor Barracks there with the assignment of helping to write the field manual for the women recruits. In addition, during her time there she tells us that she taught munitions training, small arms, and aircraft identification.
In 1944 at Camp Lejeune, she met my father, John Edward Hodgin, who had served with the 3rd Marine Division at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Guam. During the Guam campaign, he and his gun crew were poisoned by the Japanese,. He was one of only two survivors of his gun crew and woke up in a morgue tent on Guam. He was shipped back to the United States and spent some time in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, where he was classed as 100% blind, service connected. He was then transferred to Camp Lejeune North Carolina, his home state, to await his discharge. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart. During his time at Camp Lejeune he met my mother on what they both termed an actual “blind date”. She has repeatedly said he was the most handsome man she had ever met, and that he reminded her of Clark Gable.
They were married in 1944 and she cared for him until his passing in 2013 from cancer. I’ve often felt that it was a great leap of faith for her to marry a blind man who had yet to complete high school. My father went on to not only complete high school, but also college and then a PhD in Social Work at Oklahoma State. I firmly believe that he could not have done this without the continuing and freely given help and assistance from my mother. She looks back with great pride on her service in the Marine Corps.
HODGIN, WINIFRED (‘WINNIE’) BAER
Winifred (‘Winnie’) Baer Hodgin, a World War II Veteran of the Marine Corps, passed away on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at her home in the Atrium, where she had lived for the past 4 years. She was 95. Prior to coming to Gainesville, she resided first in Miami, Florida and then in Oviedo, Florida. She traveled extensively through the Southwestern United States, in particular, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico, where she developed her passion for Native American Art and culture. ‘Winnie’ was preceded in death by her husband, John E. Hodgin in 2013. She is survived by her loving son, Jon D. Hodgin, MD (Susan Hill), her granddaughter, Katherine Hodgin, MD (Sergio Lopez), and her two great grandchildren, John Sergio and Magdalena Lopez-Hodgin.
Winnie was born on a dairy farm in Calicoon, New York, a hamlet of the town of Delaware, on August 13, 1922. She attended Albany State Teacher’s College, where she obtained a degree in education at the age of 19, and later completed graduate studies at the University of North Carolina. She taught high school for one year. At the age of 22, she rode the train by herself to Grand Central Station in New York City and joined the US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Following boot camp she was promoted to Corporal and served as an instructor at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where she taught munitions training, small arms, and aircraft identification.
In 1944 at Camp Lejeune, she met her future husband, a recipient of the Purple Heart, who had served with the 3rd Marine Division at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Guam, where he had been blinded during combat. They married in 1945 and for the next 68 years she lovingly cared for him, always demonstrating a tough resilience and an unfailingly optimistic outlook on life.
Winnie continually looked back at her service as a United States Marine as one of the ‘best times’ of her life. She loved the Marines and still wore her Marine Uniform hat on every Veteran’s Day. Winnie was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother and will be sorely missed by her family and by all those who knew her.