MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - Parris Island celebrated 70 years of the continuous service of female Marines in the Corps on March 1, 2013, by gathering to reflect on their commitment and accomplishments throughout the decades.
This celebration was held in part to recognize the leaps and bounds that females have made to contribute to America’s most elite fighting force. The event was hosted by the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, where all enlisted female Marines attend boot camp.
“The absolute goal is, first off, to celebrate 70 years of the United States Marines having accepted women into the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner, battalion sergeant major. “We do it here because 4th Recruit Training Battalion is the training home … what it means for a lot of these ladies is that they get to come home.”
Approximately 150 retired and active duty Marines gathered at the 4th RTBn. from all over the nation to spend the day in companionship with their Corps sisters.
“Just like anything else, if you don’t know your own history, you can’t move forward,” said Fortner. “It’s important that all Marines understand how we came into the Marine Corps. Everyone has to know where they started from.”
In 1918, Opha Mae Johnson was recognized as the first female to enlist into the Marine Corps. This was the beginning for female Marines, but the approximately 300 “Marinettes,” as they were called, that followed suit were sent home only one year later. On Feb. 13, 1943, Lt. Gen. Thomas Holcomb, the 17th commandant of the Marine Corps, announced the formation of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.
Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act on June 12, 1948, which made women a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps. Female recruits began training at Parris Island the following year.
“If you think about it, we haven’t been around for a century yet,” said Fortner. “Seventy years seems like it’s a long time but its really just a drop in the bucket. … We actually had a Marine here who served in 1943, when everything started. To see her and to see the year 2013, it really puts things into perspective. We’ve made great strives.”
The oldest Marine in attendance was Julia Williams, 91, who served from 1943 to 1946.
The day began with the celebration participants attending the morning flag-raising ceremony as well as the graduation of the newest Parris Island Marines. Afterward, the visitors spent the day at 4th RTBn. reminiscing about their own history in the Corps as well as how far women have come.
Fortner said Parris Island hopes to host this celebration every five years.
“I thought that was the most amazing thing, giving the opportunity for these ladies to come back,” said Staff Sgt. Karen Rudolph, a 37-year-old San Antonio native and an avionics instructor stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. “I think it is going to be bigger and better as time goes by. It is an awesome thing to come back to.”
|Date Posted:||03.04.2013 10:06|
|Location:||MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, SC, US|
|Hometown:||BEATRICE, NE, US|
|Hometown:||KNOXVILLE, TN, US|
|Hometown:||STOCKTON, CA, US|
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