Since 1918, women have answered the call to serve proudly in the United States Marines and the role of women in the Marines has evolved and expanded. All Women Marines can look forward to the future proudly, while never forgetting the women who made this future possible.
In 1918, the Secretary of Navy allowed women to enroll for clerical duty in the Marine Corps. Officially, Opha May Johnson is credited as the first woman Marine. Johnson enrolled for service on August 13, 1918; during that year some 300 women first entered the Marine Corps to take over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines who were needed overseas. The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established in February 1943. June 12th, 1948, Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act and made women a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps.
In 1950, the Women Reserves were mobilized for the Korean War and 2,787 women served proudly.
1918 - Pvt Opha May Johnson becomes the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps
1942 - 31 Oct: Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox authorized the Marine Corps to create a Women's Reserve and accept women applicants for commissions and enlistments
1942 - 7 Nov: Approval by Commandant LtGeneral Thomas Holcomb for the formation of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve.
1943 - Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter first Director of Women Marine Reservists
1943 - Captain Anne Lentz, first commissioned officer
1943 - 13 Feb: First day that enlistments officially open. Private Lucille McClarren first enlisted woman
1943 - 13 Mar: First class of 71 officer candidates enter U.S. Naval Midshipmen's School at Mt Holyoke, MA to begin training with the WAVES.
1943 - 26 Mar: First class of 722 enlisted Women Reserves (WR) begins training at the U.S. Naval Training School at Hunter College, the Bronx, NY once again training with the WAVES
1943 - 25 April: First class of enlisted graduated and report to active duty. Approximately 525 women entered every 2 weeks for courses that averaged about 4 weeks.
1943 - 4 May: First class of officer candidates graduate and report to duty. Classes averaged about 70 candidates, began every month and lasted about eight weeks.
1943 - 15 July: Training for enlisted and candidates transferred to Camp Lejeune, NC. All basic training for Women Reserves as well as much of the specialty training is held here throughout the war.
1944 - 13 Feb: First anniversary of Women's Reserve. It has grown from four women to nearly 15,000. The WR's held more than 200 different assignments.
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
1945 - 7 May: V-E Day. Recruiting of WR's limited to a replacement for normal attrition
1945 - 2 Sept: V-J Day. All recruiting stopped and plans for gradual demobilization.
1946 - 7 Jun: Approval by CMC Women's Reserve Policy Board recommendation for retention of small number of women on duty to serve as trained nucleus for possible mobilization emergencies.
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).
1948 - 4 Nov: First group fo three wartime WR officers sworn into the regular Marine Corps.
1948 - Colonel Katherine A. Towle first Director of Women Marines
1948 - 10 Nov: First eight enlisted women were sworn in as regular Marines
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.
1950 - The evening dress uniform for Marine Corps women officers was introduced for the first time by Colonel Katherine A. Towle at the Marine Corps birthday ball at the Sail Loft, Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D. C. The uniform was patterned after the full dress uniform of Marine officers. It will be worn by women Marina officers at all state and diplomatic functions. (ANAF Journal, 18 Nov 1950, p. 310).
1952 - On the ninth anniversary of the establishment of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, the Lady Leathernecks participated for the first time in color raising ceremonies at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D. C. (ANAF Journal, 16 Feb 1952, p. 735).
1953 - Colonel Katherine A. Towle, Director of Women Marines, became the first woman line officer to retire from U. S. military service on reaching the mandatory retirement age of 55.
1953 - Lieutenant Colonel Julia E. Hamblet, 36, became the new Director of Women Marines, succeeding Colonel Katherine A. Towle.
1953 - Staff Sergeant Barbara Olive Barnwell First female Marine to be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal for heroism for saving a fellow Marine from drowning in the Atlantic Ocean in 1952.
1953 - Ruth Wood and Lillian Hartley were the first women to enter warrant officer program.
1960 - First woman Marine is promoted to E-9 — Master Gunnery Sergeant Geraldine M. Moran
1961 - 30 Sept: The first retirement ceremony in the history of the Parris Island Woman Marine Recruit Training Battalion took place when Master Sergeant David J. Dearing retired after 20 years' service. Sergeant Dearing, as mess sergeant for the Woman Marines, was carried on their rolls as a member of the command.
1961 - The first woman Marine is promoted to Sergeant Major (E-9) — Bertha Peters Billeb
1964 - 2 Jan: Lieutenant Colonel Barbara J. Bishop succeeds Colonel Margaret M. Henderson as Director of Woman Marines
1965 - The Marine Corps assigns the first woman to attache duty. Later, SSgt Josephine Gebers became the first woman Marine awarded the Combat Action Ribbon. Gebers was an intelligence officer and worked as an administrative assistant to the Air Force attache in Santo Domingo.
1965 - Rose Franco the first Hispanic woman promoted to Chief Warrant Officer.
1967 - Master Sergeant Barbara Jean Dulinsky first woman Marine to serve in a combat zone in Vietnam. She was assigned to U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam combat operations center in Saigon.
1968 - Lieutenant Colonel Jenny Wren was the first woman Marine to attend Command and Staff College
1970 - 1stLt Patricia Murphy was named the first woman Marine certified military judge.
1970 - CWO2 Annie Grimes became the first African American to retire with 20 years of service
1972 - 31 Aug Lance Corporal Brenda Hockenhull the first Woman Marine graduate a 16-week Test Instrument Repairman Course. She was meritoriously promoted to corporal after finishing the course as class honorman.
1972 - LtCol Carolyn Walsh, Commanding Officer of the Women's Officer School was the first female officer allowed to remain on duty while pregnant.
1972 - Major Jane Wallis became the first woman Executive Officer at H&HS Squadron in El Toro
1972 - Lt Catherine A. Kocourek Genovese was the first female battalion adjutant at Weapons Training Battalion at Quantico. She was the first female officer to fire a respectable 301x400 to rate as a sharpshooter. Since it was not authorized for her uniform she wore it under her tie.
1973 - SgtMajor Bertha Billup was the first woman Marine to retire with 30 continuous years.
1973 - Elizabeth A Aitel, Oboist, first female to join the U. S. Marine band
1973 - Colonel Mary E Bane, the first female to become Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton.
1974 - 3 Oct Private First Class Regina T. Musser, first woman Marine tank mechanic
1974 - LCpl Harriet F. Voisine becomes the first female military policewoman
1974 - 2nd Lt Debra J Baughman first female officer in the military police field.
1974 - Capt Shirley Bowen first female to graduate from the 34 week Advanced Communication Officer Course
1974 - Woman Officer School integrated into male companies. 1st Lt Catherine A. Kocourek Genovese first female officer to design and teach her own course of instruction.
1974 - Disestablishment of the position of Sergeant Major of Women Marines
1975 - Technical Sergeant Helen Hannah was recalled to active reserves in 1947 for 6 mos and continued to serve as a reservist until she retired with 32 years.
1975 - First female instructor at the Personnel and Administration School in Quantico, Karen Pressler
1975 - 1st Lt Diane S George was the first female to be assigned to inspector-instructor staff of a all reserve male unit.
1975 - PFC Cathy Smith is the first female to attend the water supply and plumbing course at Camp Lejeune
1975 - 1stSgt Margaret Reiber was the first female to integrate an all-male security force at Camp Lejeune.
1976 - March: WRTBn becomes Women Recruit Training Command
1976 - Pvt Beth Ann Fraser was the first female Marine to attend Army Airborne School at Ft Benning, GA
1977 - PFC Katie Dixon becomes the first female jet mechanic
1977 - Rhonda LeBrescu Amtower was the first enlisted woman Marine to attend and graduate the Defense Language Institute where she studied Mandarin Chinese.
1977 - GySgt Mary Vaughn was the first African American to become a Warrant Officer.
1978 - Marine Corps Col. Margaret A. Brewer becomes a brigadier general - the first female general in the Corps’ history.
1978 - LtCol Jane Wallis is the first female G1 at FMFPAC at Camp Smith Hawaii
1978 - PFC Myra Jepson first female Marine honor guard at the White House.
1980 - Sergeant Major Ellie Judge first female Sergeant Major of MCB Camp Pendleton
1980 - Seven female midshipman were the first to be commisioned into the Marine Corps from U. S. Naval Academy.
1980 - Sergeant Major Barbara A Farrell was the first female to be assigned to Assault Amphibian School Camp Pendleton.
1981 - The Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program opened to females. Evelyn Potts was the first of two LDO's.
1982 - First female rifle platoon led by Lt Marie Juliano.
1984 - Colonel Elaine Albertson Chapman becomes the first female staff judge advocate.
1984 - Lt Col Elaine Bowden first female Officer to serve as the G-1 of the First Marine Amphibious Force in Okinawa, Japan.
1985 - Recruit training lengthened from 8 weeks to 11 weeks.
1985 - PVT Anita Lobo set a new range record with the first series of recruits required to qualify with the M16A1 at Parris Island.
1985 - Female officers allowed to possess and train with the sword.
1985 - Major Mitzi Manning was the first female commanding officer of H&HS MCAS Camp Pendleton. She created the table of organization.
1986 - Rhonda LeBrescu Amtower after being commissioned, then Captain LeBrescu served as the first female Marine Attache serving at the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong from 86-88.
1986 - SGT Roxanne Conrad as a member of the Marine Corps shooting team was authorized to wear the Smokey Bear.
1987 - SGT Roxanne Conrad first female distinguished with the pistol.
1988 - Brigidear General Gail Reals first female to command MCB Quantico, VA.
1988 - CMC Alfred Gray announces Basic Warrior Training would be extended to all recruits, male and female.
1988 - Colonel Carol A Mutter first female of any of the services to gain qualification as Space Director, running first on of the CINC Space Command Center Crews and then the entire Command Center Crews and then the Command center operation.
1989 - COL Eileen M. Alberston-Chapman first female appellate military judge.
1989 - Major Doris Daniels first African American female to achieve the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
1989 - Salinas became the first female in the Marine Corps to command a recruiting station
1990 - SSgt Carmen Cole first female Motor Transport Maintenance Shop Chief 7th Motor Transport Maintenance Battalion, Camp Pendleton California
1990 - MGySgt Shalanda Raynor first female to achieve the rank of master gunnery sergeant in the combat camera occupation
1991 - SGT Roxanne Conrad first female double distinguished with pistol and International awards.
1991 - COL Eileen M. Alberston-Chapman first female to head the Naval Clemency and Parole system
1992 - Gunnery Sergeant Melody Naatz became the first female to don the flat brimmed "Smokey Bear" as a Drill Instructor
1992 - SGT Roxanne Conrad competes in the Barcelona Olympics. Competed 1991 and 1995 Pan American games.
1992 - SSGT Roxanne Thompson first Marine selected Armed Forces Athlete of the year.
1992 - CWO Roxanne Conrad first female Range Officer at Parris Island
1992 - COL Eileen M. Alberston-Chapman first female to head the Navy disability system.
1992- January Sgt Laura L. Sheppard reported to Parris Island, South Carolina to attend Drill Instructor School in January of 1992. While at Parris Island, Sgt. Sheppard graduated five platoons, became the first female History Instructor for both Female and Male recruits and was the 4th Battalion Drill Master. (Laura L. Brown)
1992 - Gunnery Sergeant Joan Straub was the first female permanently assigned to an aircraft carrier, the USS Independence.
1992 - Lieutenant Colonel Ginger Jacocks first female to command a Marine Corps Security Company in Frankfort. Germany.'
1992 - Salinas became the first woman ever to be assigned as a combat service support ground monitor.
1993 - CWO Carmen Cole was selected as a Warrant Officer becoming the first female in the Marine Corps to be a Motor Transport Maintenance Officer. She was assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron-2, Marine Air Group–31, Beaufort, South Carolina serving as the Maintenance Management Officer.
1993 - Secretary of Defense Les Aspen lifts restrictions and allows women to fly combat aircraft.
1995 - Gilda Jackson was the first African American female Marine Colonel and the first woman to command the Naval Aviation Depot, Cherry Point, NC
1995 - Beth Schell first female enlisted to graduate #1 in the MCIWS course.
1996 - Marine Corps LtGen. Carol Mutter becomes the first female three-star officer in the U.S. Armed Forces as she assumed the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C.
1997 - Karen Fuller Brannen made history on October 17, 1997, when she became the U.S. Marine Corps first female strike fighter pilot to earn "wings of gold."
1997 - 1st group of women Marines complete male/female integrated Marine Combat Training Course at Camp Geiger, NC, with LCpl Melissa Ohm as honor graduate.
1997 - Gunnery Sgt Patricia Crimmins became the first female Marine to earn the drum major military occupational specialty
1997 - Jennifer Lamb first woman attached to an infantry company (Small Craft Co, 2MarDiv).
1999 - Sgt Kelly L. Anderson is the first female to successfully complete Designated Marksman School at Fleet Combat Training Center Dam Neck, Virginia.
2001 - Col Angela Salinas became the first woman to serve as a recruiting district commanding officer.
2001 - Capt Vernice Armour becomes the first African American Pilot
2002 - Sergeant Jeannette L. Winters the first U.S. servicewoman to die in the war on terrorism.
2003 - Capt Vernice Armour becomes the first African American female combat pilot with combat missions in Iraq.
2005 - Cpl Ramona M. Valdez and Lance Cpl Holly A. Charette first women Marines killed in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated near their convoy vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq
2006 - After enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1974, Angela Salinas works her way through the ranks to make history by becoming the first female Hispanic brigadier general in the Corps.
2006 - August Brig Gen Angela Salinas becomes the first female Marine to command San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
2006 - First Female Expeditionary Airfield Technician MOS 7011 to make it to the rank of MGySgt, Linda Field. First Female Occupational Field Sponsor for MOS 7011/7051 Pentagon 2006-2012.
2006 - Major Megan McClung becomes the first female Marine Officer to be killed in Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2006 - Capt Elizabeth A. Okoreeh-Baah became the first woman to pilot the Osprey
2007 - January Sgt Maj Barbara J. Titus first female sergeant major of Marine Corps Installations West, a command overseeing seven installations west of the Mississippi River
2008 - Capt. Elizabeth A. Okoreeh-Baah, the first female MV-22 Osprey pilot
2009 - All-Female Marine Team Conducts First Mission in Southern Afghanistan
2010 - Marine Corps helicopter pilot LtCol Alison J. Thompson recently became the first woman commander of a U.S. Marine Corps heavy Marine helicopter squadron
2010 - Staff Sgt. Tricia McBride, the first female to receive the Advisor Training Group’s stamp of approval to advise host nation forces in Afghanistan.
2011 - First female Marine Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island/Eastern Recruiting Region. BGEN Lori Reynolds is posted and served until 2013.
2011 - First female Marine is selected by HQMC to serve as the Marine Corps Base Sergeant Major of Quantico, VA: SgtMaj Laura Brown assumes billet of MCBQ Sergeant Major on September 2011
2012 - Master Gunnery Sgt. Shalanda Raynor first female in the Marine Corps, in her military occupational specialty as chief of Combat Camera, to achieve the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant.
2012 - First female Marines take Combat Leadership Test
2012 - Corporal Cherisess Paige, a stableman with the MCG aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., is one of the first women to receive official orders to the unit, which had previously only been given to infantrymen
2013 - LtCol Nicole A. Mann was selected in June 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. Her Astronaut Candidate Training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, Spacewalks, Russian language training, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training. She completed Astronaut Candidate training in July 2015, and is now qualified for future assignment. Mann serves as the Assistant to the Chief for Exploration. She leads the astronaut corps in the development of the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS).
2013 - Gunnery Sgt Robin Baker first female with this rank as a combat engineer. Baker also holds the firsts as the first female master breacher after successfully completing the Marine Corps’ Urban Breachers Course and one of only two female Marines to ever teach at the combat engineer school.
2013 - The first three female Marines graduate from the Marine Corps' enlisted infantry training course. PFC Christina Fuentes Montenegro, PFC Julia Carroll and PFC Katie Gorz
2013 - Sergeant Major Angela Maness first female to assume the duties of senior enlisted Marine at Marine Barracks Washington.
2013 - First female Marine is selected by HQMC to serve as the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Command Senior Enlisted Leader, SgtMaj Bonnie Skinner
2014 - Brig Gen Helen Pratt, USMC was the 1st female President of the Marine Corps University from 2014 to 2016
2014 - Sergeant Major Angela Maness first female to become depot Sergeant Major of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
2014 - Sergeant Major Lanette Wright, the first female sergeant major of a Marine Expeditionary Unit in Marine Corps history.
2016 - First female Marine Officers and Drill Instructors (7) permanently assigned to MCRDSD Depot /Western Recruiting Region to work within the male Battalions. (Executive Officer and Support Battalion staff.)
2017 - First female armor officer 2nd Lt. Lillian R. Polatchek graduated from the Army-led Basic Armor Officer Leaders Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. Polatchek was the top graduate in the class of 67 soldiers and Marines. She became the first woman to lead a Marine tank platoon.
2017 - Marine PFC Maria Daum first female Marine to join the infantry through the traditional entry-level training process
2017 - Gunnery Sgt. Stacie Crowther the first female Assistant Drum Major for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band
2017 - 25 Sept: First female Marine graduates from the Marine Corps' demanding Infantry Officer Course.
2017 - First female Marine Officer graduates from Amphibian Assault Officer School Second Lt Mariah Klenke.
2018 - 6 March: First male-female integrated Marine Combat Training company on the West Coast. U.S. Marine PFC Kira Kozik, the first female Marine student to check in to School of Infantry – West
2018 - April: Col Lorna M. Mahlock first African-American woman to earn the rank of brigadier general.
2018 - 22 June: LtCol Michelle Macander took over command of the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion at Camp Pendleton. This is the first time, a female Marine has been named commander of a ground combat arms unit.
2018 - August Lt. Marina A. Hierl became the first and only woman in the Marine Corps to lead an infantry platoon.
2019 - January Sgt Tara-Lyn Baker is the first female Marine graduated from Winter Mountain Leaders Course.
Today - Women constitute 8.3 percent of the Corps end strength and are an integral part of the Marine Corps.
By the height of the Vietnam War, there were about 2,700 women Marines served both stateside and overseas. By 1975, the Corps approved the assignment of women to all occupational fields except infantry, artillery, armor and pilot/aircrew. Over 1,000 women Marines were deployed in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991.
According to the 2017 demographic report women make up 8.3% of the Marine Corps. They are integrated into nearly all Military Occupational Specialties serving in 316 of 326 Military Occupational Specialties. They serve globally and proudly carry on the traditions of those first trailblazers as they continue to open doors for future Marines to follow.