The New Women Marines Association Interim Board

By Rhonda Amtower

I am proud to work together with our new 2020-2021 Board of Directors (BOD). Despite the convention cancellation, the outgoing and incoming BODs met yesterday, 5 Sept to conduct the business of WMA. During the outgoing BOD meeting, we closed out final business of this BOD to include the presentation of the National Service Award (NSA). The NSA is the highest award given to a person who goes above and beyond in their support of WMA.

The NSA was awarded to the following 3 recipients: Dottie Stover-Kendrick (Chair of the Scholarship Committee).

Dorothy Stover-Kendrick

Michael Pearce (Loyal Escort IPP and technical support guru)

Michael E. Pearce

and Mary Ellen Stone our National Secretary for her dedicated administrative support in all of the many positions on which she has served. Congratulations to all three recipients!

MaryEllen Stone

The members of the incoming 2020-2021 BOD were installed in a ceremony conducted by our Past National President Carol Mutter. The following 8 members will serve on the Interim Board until a new Governing BOD is defined and elected by the membership. Rhonda Amtower as National President, Betty Moseley Brown as the Immediate Past President, Rosa M. Frank-Osborn as the 1VP, Jeannine Franz as the 2VP, Pat Lewis as the 3VP, Mary Ellen MaryEllen Stone as the Secretary,Peggy Reiber as Treasurer and Jennifer Keane Homan as the Membership Secretary.

We will focus on the partnership with our Association Management Company, Virtual Inc. to help WMA transition to a new Way Forward to ensure our existence and relevance for another 60 years!Thank you to all those who served on the 2018-2020 BOD and those who will continue to serve on the new Interim BOD.

WMA is privileged to have such dedicated and motivated members working to lead WMA into its next 60 years.

Semper Fidelis!

Rhonda Amtower

National President.

Chaos Defined Chaos Refined

By Sue Kaszynski

One of my many talents ( insert big laugh here) had been to create and maintain chaos. Which upon reflection was because of my pathological need for control. Sounds diametrically opposed doesn’t it? You see I had to have strict control over myself and my immediate surroundings. My control freak. By having utter chaos surrounding me it gave the illusion that I was in control of me at least. Looking back it sounds pretty whacked out to me also. But it served its purpose…..until it didn’t.

Wherefore art thou, chaos?. The Mission News: Wednesday September… | by  Mission | | Medium

It wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized I didn’t need those dysfunctional coping skills. For the first time ever I was safe. And that was pretty scary in the beginning. Growing and learning is a process even as an adult. And it takes time.

I am now 65 and I am still growing and learning and evolving. Recent events have shown me that I will always need to evolve because the world around me is evolving. I give sincere thanks to my black Marine Corps sisters who helped me to see how much more I had to do.

I know not everyone believes in God. That is ok ( I don’t fully understand but I accept it). I never want to cram my belief system down someone else’s throat. But my Faith in God is what has gotten me through so much in my life. He has guided me and has helped me through this process called life. He gives me strength to deal with everything thrown at me. He gives me wisdom in knowing what to say. He gives me more blessings than I can count. Including al my health issues. He gives me peace.

The God of Your Understanding - How to Define Your Higher Power - The SHAIR  Recovery Podcast

I encourage everyone to find their own higher power. Something bigger and more awe inspiring than they themselves could ever be. Find a source of strength, of peace, of wisdom. From there whole new avenues open up, like humor and perspective just to name a couple.

I never considered myself broken. I am forged in fire and it has made me stronger. People tried to rob me of me, of my soul, of my identity, my purpose. I chose to use it all to reinforce who I am. I chose. There are many things we don’t control but we do control choice.

Sue is a licensed therapist. Marine Veteran and Freelance writer for this blog. She has Dysautonomia, Ehlers and a number of other autoimmune disorders. She writes about her life, her struggles and most of all her fight to stay positive and never give up. She gives of her time freely despite various health issues to help veterans and anyone in need. This is her 5th blog.

Taking a Stand

By Sue Kaszynski

I have always been an outspoken mouthy individual. Even as a kid I didn’t hesitate to argue with authority figures if I felt I was right. For some reason I never got into trouble for it. I’m not sure if it was because I only did it when I knew I was right, or because of the confidence I had, or if it was just my general personality. I was always considered someone not to mess with. I would beat up bullies. It didn’t matter if the bully was a kid or an adult .i fought for the underdog.

Image may contain: one or more people, hat and closeup

When I joined the Corps ( I was a little older than normal, I was 21).
Even when I was in the Corps I tend to really stand up against anyone trying to bully me or harass me. I had an officer call me in his office and offered to help me get promoted which I politely declined and left. He tried this a couple times and finally came into the office where I was at and ordered the Sgt out of the room and ordered me up to his BOQ That night to “watch television” or he would write me up an every conceivable charge he could think of. I informed him he left me no choice I would come up but it couldn’t be that night it would have to be the next night. He wanted to know what was so important that I couldn’t come up and a very sweet voice I told him, it’s easy sir I need to write your wife a letter and tell her what you’re doing”. He
left the office and never bothered me again. As he rotated out he came up to me to apologize for his behavior and I ripped him a new one I actually had the man in tears. I informed him that had I given in it would’ve been tantamount to rape and how would he feel if somebody done that to his wife or his daughter. That he was abusing his power and that was conduct unbecoming an officer and that he should be beyond ashamed of himself. I like to think he never harassed anyone else again.

I had a Gunny at another base who was a piece of work to everyone, male or female. Him and I definitely locked horns on more than one occasion. Thankfully the Master Sgt heard one of the worse exchanges and when Gunny threatened me ( granted I had him by the throat up against a wall) the Master Sgt came out and called the Gunny out and said if I hadn’t just nailed him the Master Sgt would have. Later the Gunny informed me that he was going to do everything in his power to make me miscarry ( I was already a high risk pregnancy). I requested MAST which he tried to refuse ( again the guy was a piece of crap). I went into my LT office and told him we had a problem. Informed him what was occurring with the Gunny and stated that if he succeeded that I would end up in the brig because I would kill the SOB. Not a threat but a solemn promise. Just then Gunny burst into the office and threatened to write me up for jumping chain of
command and that my ass was his. LT looked at him, then me, then back at him. Informed him that he had called me into his office, that the gunny was in a world of hurt for bursting into his office and that he would deal with him later. He also ordered him to go to his office and not to leave it until he was called for. LT then called the commanding general, told him we had a situation and that there was a Marine whose life was in danger and they had to get me off base.
The CG called my husband’s command (120 miles away) and instructed them to send him to get me immediately. The LT called in another MP and instructed him to take me around to do an
emergency mustering out with instructions that if the gunny approached me that he was to get one warning to stop and back off and if he didn’t the MP was to shoot to kill. I was ordered never
to have contact with anyone from base as they were afraid he would find me.

While I regret and I miss some wonderful friends I was very fortunate in that I had a superior officer who believed me. Personally I also think he was afraid that if I did miscarry I would without hesitation have killed the man.

So through everything that I have gone through for whatever reason I have just kept coming out stronger. That isn’t to say I hadn’t developed some less than desirable coping skills ( creating
and maintaining chaos was one along with being a major control freak). Once I got older, was in a safe relationship ( God I love my husband) and was able to really stop and look and reflect I
realized what I needed to do in my life.

So in the next blog how Sue managed to live in a screwed up life ( we all live in screw ups, chaos, and ongoing growing pains)

Sue is a licensed therapist. Marine Veteran and Freelance writer for this blog. She has Dysautonomia, Ehlers and a number of other autoimmune disorders. She writes about her life, her struggles and most of all her fight to stay positive and never give up. She gives of her time freely despite various health issues to help veterans and anyone in need.



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.

Her Obituary:

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.

Lillian “Bambi” Anita Bamberger Simonson

USMCWR 1923 – 1986

By: Michael Simonson

Lillian Anita Bamberger Simonson (Bambi) was born in New York City in 1923 and died in Fort Dodge Iowa in 1986. She was raised in lower Manhattan, New York City. She joined the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in 1943.

She met her husband, LeRoy (Swede) Donald Simonson, while both were serving in the Marine Corps. 

In 1945 after her honorable discharge from the Marines as a corporal, she moved to a rural farm in Northwest Iowa.

She, and her baby boy Mike who was born in 1945, lived on the farm with her husband’s parents and his seven brothers and sisters until Swede returned from the South Pacific at the conclusion of World War II. LeRoy was deployed to the South Pacific in WW II where he attained the rank of Master Technical Sergeant as part of a Torpedo Bomber Unit (VMTB131). He served on islands throughout the South Pacific until the end of the war in the Pacific.

After WW II, he returned to Iowa and enrolled at Iowa State University where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Educational Leadership. He became an Iowa school teacher after college, eventually in Fort Dodge, Iowa where he served as the vocational agriculture teacher, the Audio-Visual Coordinator, and ultimately moving into educational administration until his retirement. LeRoy and Lillian (Swede and Bambi) lived in Fort Dodge where he enjoyed golfing, fishing, and spending time with friends. He was a member of St. Olaf Lutheran Church, the Lions, the America Legion, and other civic organizations. He was honorably discharged as a Master Technical Sergeant from the USMC.

In 1946, Swede and Bambi moved to Ames, Iowa where they lived in Pammel Court while Swede finished his Degree in Agricultural Engineering at Iowa State.  After he graduated, they eventually moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa where LeRoy served as a teacher and school administrator. Bambi worked in a bank, a law firm and ultimately at Iowa Lutheran hospital. In 1952 her second son Don was born – Don Simonson is currently chair of the Department of Music and Theatre at Iowa State University and his wife Gaye serves as executive assistant to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Michael is married to Margaret Simonson. They live in Cooper City, Florida where Margaret is an elementary school library media specialist and Mike is a Professor of instructional technology and distance education at Nova Southeastern University. Michael was honorably discharged as a Captain in the USMC (R) in 1975 after service in the US, Okinawa, and Viet Nam.

Lillian Anita Bamberger Simonson is a heroine for many reasons – she raised her younger sister and older brother after her mother died when she was 12. She served honorably in the US Marine Corps from 1943-45 at a time when women almost never served in the military. She was one of the first groups of Women Marines to enlist in New York City (see newspaper clippings). After her service, she moved to rural Iowa where she raised a family. She was a valued employee with many friends. She always expected the best from her husband LeRoy, and her sons Mike and Don. She epitomizes the hard-working, self-reliant, and loving woman her friends and family loved to call Bambi and her children loved to call mom; and she never lost her New York accent, as was always proud of her service as a Marine. She taught her children all the verses of the Marine Corps hymn before they were ten.

Marine Corps Women Reserves Camp Lejeune 1944

A Pictorial Yearbook

These photos are from the Camp Lejeune Women Marines yearbook from 1944. The book belonged to Margaret Guntle Shelton. Known affectionately as Marge she was a charter member of OR-3. Debra Barker said Marge was well read and didn’t hesitate to give her opinion on issues she felt strongly about. Marge, it is said, kept them all accountable and responsible. She is missed by all. Enjoy.

Margaret Guntle Shelton Oct 1944

Here is the close up of her platoon

Sgt Emily Rowe Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard

Sgt Emily Rowe

Sgt Emily Rowe was born on July 30th, 1994 in Billings, Montana to Leslie and Samuel Boor. The family lived in Roundup, Montana, where Samuel was a doctor and Leslie worked as a nurse at Roundup Memorial Healthcare. In 1995, they moved to Wolf Point, Montana where they lived on a sheep farm with dogs, cats, chickens and horses. Then in 2001, Emily’s little sister, Carolyn, was born. The two girls were complete opposites, but inseparable.

Emily always had a passion for horses and got her first mare of her own, “Nikki,” at age 10. From that day forward, Emily and her mother, Leslie worked on training Nikki and also added to the herd. In 2007, the family moved to Great Falls, Montana and Emily finished out her 8th grade year of school at East Middle School. In 2008, she began her high school adventure at Great Falls High School. Both her sophomore and senior years she swam on the swimming team, and graduated in 2012. However, it was in the summer of 2011 that she began talking to Marine Corps’ recruiters. After graduating high school, Emily spent the summer in Europe, as an au pair for her nephew. Upon returning to the U.S. in the fall, she signed a five-year contract with the Marine Corps.

In January 2013, Private Boor graduated from recruit training, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. After spending 10 days back home in Montana, she flew back to the east coast to Camp Geiger, North Carolina to attend Marine Combat Training. From there she got her orders to Pensacola, Florida to attend Naval Aviation Technical Training Center (NATTC) for Aircrew Survival Equipment-man and Aviation Warfare Apprentice Training. While attending school she was promoted to the rank of Private First Class. Graduating in September 2013 as a Flight Equipment Technician (MOS 6048), the next set of orders were to HMLA-773 Det B, on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. As a Flight Equipment Technician, PFC Boor maintained the aircrew member’s flight gear, including but not limited to their helmets, survival vests and night vision goggles, as well as the fire extinguishing, air distribution, and egress systems on both the AH-1W and UH-1N helicopters.

In December 2013, she was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. From March – May 2014 LCpl Boor participated in Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-14 (WTI) on Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, returning to HMLA-773 the only Flight Equipment Technician trained on the UH-1Y’s (upgrade aircraft).

In the fall of 2014 she obtained her Collateral Duty Inspector (CDI) and Collateral Duty Quality Assurance Representative (CDQAR) qualifications, earning the additional MOS (6018). Between January and June of 2015 she attended the following MOS proficiency schools: Aviation Life Support System Configuration Management, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, and Naval Aviation Organizational Maintenance Activity Work Center Supervisor. In March of 2015 LCpl Boor attended the unit’s first training exercise in Alpena, Michigan, running the Flight Equipment Work Center single handedly. In June of 2015 she was promoted to the rank of Corporal. In June of 2016 Cpl Boor attended and graduated from Corporal’s Course 631-16. In November of 2016, she was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant.

In September 2017, she reenlisted for four more years of service. In December 2017, now-Sgt-Rowe, received orders to Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, where she is currently serving as a Stableman with the Marine Corps last remaining Mounted Color Guard. Sgt Rowe attended and graduated Sergeant’s Course 8-18, in August of 2018. The MCG carries and presents the colors at events around the continental United States, including but not limited to parades, rodeos and military ceremonies. Established in 1967, the unit is the last of its kind and it is an honor for Sgt Rowe to be a part of the team of six Marines and two civilian employees. Sgt Rowe is also the Environmental Compliance Coordinator (ECC) for Headquarters Company, a Command Physical Training Representative (CPTR), and Urinalysis Program Coordinator (UPC).

Sgt Rowe’s personal decorations include the Certificate of Commendation (2 Individual Awards), Letter of Appreciation, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2nd award).

Sgt Amy Carter Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard

Sgt Amy Carter

I grew up and lived in Florence, SC. All of my family were loggers so most of my childhood was spent out in the woods playing with my twin brother. I have always loved horses and I started off my riding career when I got my first horse at the age of 13. She was a 5 year old large pony named Delilah. I started out riding western and switched to English because the horse I had was already trained for jumping, in which an English saddle is used. Within a year of riding I started competing at horse shows with Delilah.

My first job was at a skating rink in my hometown at the age of 15 and I worked there until I joined the military. I also got my second horse when I was 15 and he was an 11 year old imported Oldenburg from Germany named Ritzenhoff. This horse really helped me move up to the bigger jumps and higher rated horse shows. Ritzenhoff and I showed on 5 different horse show circuits at the same time on the east coast. My high school years were spent going to school during the week and spending all my afternoons at the barn riding. Every weekend I was either at a horse show competing or working at the skating rink. I graduated from The Kings Academy in 2015, receiving scholarships for my good grades. One of the scholarships included riding for St. Andrews University’s hunt seat team.

I attended St. Andrews in Laurinburg, NC for my freshman year from 2015-2016. The university allowed me to bring my show horse, Ritzenhoff, with me to stay at the college’s equestrian center. During my freshman year I competed on the college hunt seat team and I also competed with my personal horse at other shows. In May 2016 I enlisted into the Marine Corps and sold my horse Ritzenhoff, but kept my pony Delilah. My Military Occupational Specialty was a 6483, 1 level Avionics technician. I arrived at my first duty station on June 27, 2017 in Jacksonville, NC where I worked on Marine Corps Air Station New River for 2 years and 4 months as an aviation electrician and I loved my job, as well as the people with whom I worked. Once I got accepted to ride on the Mounted Color Guard, I transferred to Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. in October of 2019. Here with the MCG, I have the opportunity to work with the horses and outstanding Marines representing the Marine Corps at events, but I also get to enjoy the day-to-day duties like feeding and tending to the horses, stalls, and administrative duties.

Sgt Amy Carter is back in her original MOS, and her time on the Color Guard was from October 2019 – July 2020. We wish her well in all her endeavors.

Sgt Ursula Fortenbacher Oleksy 1923 – 2020

BY: Dave Olesky

Ursula Oleksy, who passed away July 12, 2020 at the age of 97. She was born on April 3, 1923 in NYC.

She enlisted in the Marine Corps on January 7, 1952 from NYC. She was stationed in both San Diego, CA as well as Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on February 2, 1953. She separated from service on April 25, 1953.  

My grandmother was always a kind, loving and devoted family woman. She taught us many things, and I believe her time in the Marines provided a solid foundation for everything. She always spoke highly of and proudly of her time with the Corps. She was truly part of the greatest generation. On a side note, I do recall one or two times where she made sure to remind my grandfather, laughingly, that she outranked him, as she was a sergeant and he was Corporal in the Army during WW2. Thank you for your time and assistance and for keeping these memories of our veterans alive and well. 

Ursula M. Oleksy 97, of Brick passed away Sunday July 12, 2020 at her residence after being surrounded by her family for two weeks . She was born on April 3, 1923 in New York City, NY to Charles and Mary Fortenbacher she was raised in Shenandoah, PA. She started her life at the Jersey Shore first at the Sea Girt Inn which her father owned and than later moved to Brick in 1956 where she lived for thirty- two years . She later moved to Micco, FLA. for twenty years before returning to Brick in 2009.

Ursula proudly served in the United States Marines Corp attaining the rank of Sergeant during the Korean War as so many who were part of the Greatest Generation. She was the Past President of St. Dominic’s Alter Rosary Society and Micco Home Owners Association.

She enjoyed bowling, cooking, reading, family gatherings, travelling and spending time with her great grandchildren who visited often.

She is pre-deceased by her husband of 63 years Leonard J. Oleksy.

Surviving are two sons Joseph and his wife Eileen Oleksy of Brick and their children Dave and Dana Oleksy, Kathryn and John Scran, and Kevin and Christopher, and Robert and Nancy Oleksy and their children and families of Eagle, Idaho; her great grandchildren Chloe, John, Lucas and Colton; also survived by several nieces and nephews. The family would like to give a special thank you and love to her niece Sharon and her Health Aid Janine.