Women Marines of WWII: Then and Now

As The World Sees Us

Only as old women, frail, easily intimidated, dull and uninteresting, and showing the physical and mental signs of aging.

As I See Us

I look beneath the outward appearance and Lo and Behold there are the same women who in their youth audaciously enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII.

These were not mamby-pamby clinging vines who answered their country’s call for women to join the Marine Corps to “Free a Marine to Fight” on the treacherous beaches of the South Pacific Islands. They were decisive, independent in mind and spirit, and undeterred by the opinions of others that it was unacceptable for women to join the military. There were no cash bonuses for enlisting nor any other financial incentives. They enlisted because the country they loved was fighting a global war, they were needed, and they were extremely patriotic. And they still are!

Unusual for young women of their time, they were unafraid to forego the security of home to embrace the unknown rigors of military life. Nor was it a short term commitment. They enlisted for the duration of the war; they were in for the long haul! They didn’t try to quit and go home, they accepted their assignments and did their best, they didn’t cry, and every day they did the unthinkable for a civilian woman — they wore the same outfit!! And now as they confront the often uncertain future of old women — they are still unafraid!

And finally, while serving in the Marine Corps, they were deeply loyal to their friends and comrades and now they give the same loyal friendship to our band of sisters in the Women Marines Association. We were proud to be Marines in our youth. And we still are!

It is impossible for me to end my musings about those of us who served together in the Marine Corps during a unique time in our country’s history and our young lives without assuring you that the bond that was forged then is still well and strong today! And we will long remember the smiling faces of those we have lost and be grateful for those we have kept.

Semper Fi,
Rita Eckels

* This essay was the second place winner in the 2010 WMA Essay contest. The winner of the 2010 WMA Essay contest was Clarence Nelson who wrote “Once Upon A Time in the Marine Corps”.