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Opha May Johnson Project

Opha May Johnson Project

OMJP pic

In 1918, Opha May Johnson was the first of 300 plus women who showed up to take one of billets left open as our men went to war. She even typed up her own enlistment contract and had to have her husbands permission to join our beloved Corps. She opened the doors that we followed, as the generations that followed and continued to open more doors. Now is the time to honor her memory and her place in Marine Corps history.

OMJ Enlistment

OMJ Data

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10th INF Battalion ~ Classification Platoon

Women Marines ~ 10th INF Battalion ~ Classification Platoon 

Honor ~ Courage ~ Commitment

My Story by PFC. Phyllis Silva-Keith (H.D. 1958)

October 2017

In the 1940’s, when, Col. Julia Hamblet, USMCR, penned: “Once a Marine…Always a Marine…Then, now and always,” little did I know, all these years later, that I would still be living out and reflecting on those powerful words.

When I was first “introduced” to the Marine Corps, at age 18, in 1957….and now, reminiscing 60 years later at age 79, I feel an immense gratitude for the experiences and people who were and are so importantly part of my Marine Corps memories.

Before I begin sharing with you, I want to say “Thank you” to my sister Marines then and now. You have my gratitude, respect and admiration for the individual roles each of you has played in providing protection for our country as well as for peoples and places around the world.  May your knowing that you have made a difference in your sister Marine’s lives, and countless others, bring you a sense of peace and accomplishment.  Your example of service and sacrifice continues to shed light upon our paths.

Each of us has our own Marine history and personal stories to tell.

I didn’t serve overseas or in combat nor did I serve the length of time or make the sacrifices that some of you have.  But, we are each and all part of the whole history and success of the Corps.  Sisters and brothers….I salute you one and all.

Thank you for your interest in this “Old Lady Reservist” and what it was like back in “50’s.

Semper Fidelis!

My Story

It was May 1957 and I had just returned home after three semesters of college and secured a job with Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone in Seattle (or “Ma Bell” as we called it then).  At that time, I was trying to envision how I would transition into adult life.

One day, during a work lunch break, I saw one of my co-workers, Margaret Carr, in a Marine Corps uniform.  Our conversation centered on why she was in uniform.  She told me that after work she would be reporting for drill and continuing training classes.  (Our employer was quite supportive of those in the military including Women Marine Reservists.)  Margaret invited me to go along with her to the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Armory on Lake Union, and I gladly accepted!  (Today the building houses the MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry). Continue Reading »

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High Heeled Boots

High Heeled Boots

Leatherneck Magazine Volume 45, Issue 2 Feb 1962
Author:  Clay Barrow
 WM BootCamp

There are several striking differences between the Women Marines’ boot camp and the men’s

ONE OF THE most widely circulated football stories relates that once when Knute Rockne’s “Fighting Irish” were trailing, he stayed out of the locker room throughout nearly all of the 15-minute half-time. Seconds before his battered team was due to take the field, he thrust his flat face through the door and said, “Oops, excuse me. I thought this was the Notre Dame team.”

His humiliated assassins tore doors off hinges raging out to redeem themselves.

It is this fierce, primeval vanity, which others call pride and we call esprit de corps, that has always been the male Marine’s most priceless asset. As it has been our heritage from our predecessors, it will also be-if we are half the men we claim to be-our legacy to our succesors.

Because esprit has been almost literally pounded into us by acid-tongued, knob-knuckled, frosty-eyed men, we find it unthinkable that the same-perhaps even a deeper-love of Corps can be imbued in dewy-eyed young females through a radically different type of initial training.

Yet Parris Island’s Woman Recruit Training Battalion does precisely that.

What mysterious alchemy transforms a confused, awkward 18-year-old girl into a poised, proud young lady in the short span of nine weeks? How close is the woman’s initial training period patterned after the man’s? The answer to these and other questions can be-found at PI, home of the only WM boot camp in the country.

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Women Marines Tackle the NY Jets

The Women Marines Association Tackle the New York Jets!

by Jamie DePaola and StacyAnn Castro

Another Win for Women Marines! A team from the WMA Area 1 Marines scored big with the New York Jets!DSC_0156

The Women Marines Association had the honor of being selected to participate in the Taste of The Jets event in New York City on May 18th.  The Taste of the Jets is a fundraising event that the NY Jets have held the last 13 years to raise funds to support the New York Jets Foundation to tackle hunger.  The attendees enjoyed an evening of mingling with the players, Jets’ Legends, and Flight Crew cheerleaders while sampling delicious cuisine from fantastic NYC restaurants. This year they added a Veteran element and invited the 5 branches of the Military to compete in a celebrity-judged cook off. Each military branch had to put together a team of Veterans, who could cook and present any food item they wanted.   Continue Reading »

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Queen City Marines “Down on the Farm”


A Day of Volunteering

One of the newest chapters in the Women Marines Association Queen City, NC-4 located in the Charlotte, NC area has been very busy.

On 29 April they found themselves wielding a variety of new implements. From post hole diggers to shovels to drills they got the job done.

Shining Hope Farms provides services to children and adults with disabilities. Robin Briggs and Christie helped with various tasks such as digging holes for a new fence, landscaping, and building picnic tables. This event was through Charlotte Bridge Home.

Charlotte Bridge Home helps Charlotte-area Veterans successfully transition home after military service by identifying their education, employment and healthcare needs and connecting them to available community, state and federal resources.

About WMA NC-1 Queen City

“Our Charlotte Chapter is comprised of different generations of Women Marines. We host meetings, dinners, and volunteer opportunities on a regular basis. You can be as involved as you like. We welcome everyone”, states NC-1 President Robin Parks Briggs.

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Women Marines Association Area 1

The Building of WMA Area 1

The foundation of the Women Marines Association (WMA) are her members. Our chapters are the mainstay that keep our members always connected.

Area 1 consists of CT, ME, MA, NH, NY, RI, VT, Europe, Middle East and Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, Canada. We are pleased to have Jamie DePaola as the area director. Within Area 1 we currently have 2 chapters.

CT-1 NUTMEG  CHAPTER. Located in the heart of CT the Nutmeg Chapter has found new purpose as they work to take care of our homeless women veterans.  To learn more about the chapter you can contact Jennifer Jackson the chapter president.
Chapter email: CT1@womenmarines.org

Area1 ct

Homes for the Brave CEO Vince Santilli, House Manager Karen Jackson along with our Women Marines Association members – Racquel Simeon, Jennifer Jackson, Nancy Chavez and Michelle Haiko Hill after we dropped off more than $700 worth of goods from the female shelter’s wishlist.

MA-1 BAY STATE     Located on the outskirts of Boston this chapter is working on revitalization. They are seeking new members who want to be active and enjoy the camaraderie of our sisterhood. Heidi Hurley is the chapter president. Drop her a note to get on their mail list.
chapter email: ma1@womenmarines.org

Area1 ma

Wonderful Chapter meeting for MA Baystate-1, The Proud Massachusetts Marine MoMs invited our WMA Chapter to a lovely luncheon.  Here we shared our history with them. March 2016

Area is currently working on building chapters in NY and CT. For more information you can contact Jamie DePaola  at AD1@womenmarines.org. Jamie would love to here from all of our Marine sisters in her area. Get on her mail list and she will assure you are aware of any events in your state. You can find Area 1 on Facebook.

WMA Chapter Map

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Col Julia E. Hamblet

Col Julia E. Hamblet 1916 – 2017

Judy obit pic 1

By Mary Ann Merritt

The Marine Corps is saddened by the loss of one of their iconic Marines. Called to her final duty station, Col Julia Hamblet will now guard the gates as she waits the arrival of our warriors. Her service changed the Corps as she fought to assure more women would advance and take their place equally in the Corps she loved.

Julia Estelle Hamblet was born May 12, 1916 in Winchester, Massachusetts to Martin and Marcia Coburn Hamblet. She was the youngest of 3 children and the only daughter.

After graduating from the Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey she attended Vassar College and graduated in 1937 with a degree in economics. Col Hamblet continued her education getting a Master’s Degree from Ohio State University in 1950. She had actually traveled to England in 1946 intent on gaining her Master’s from the London School of Economics. A letter would soon change that part of her history.

Hamblet 1937 Vassar

Julia Hamblet  Vassar 1937

After graduating from Vassar she was employed by the United States Information Service.   Forgoing a job offer to Australia she decided to follow in the footsteps of her two brothers, one with the Army Psychological Warfare branch and the other as a Naval aviation ground officer, she wanted one member of the family to represent the Marines. She would later recall, “It was a time when everyone wanted to do what they could do for their country. I had been very fortunate in my life, and I just wanted to give back. I wanted to do what my country was asking me to do.” On 15 March 1943 she became among the first woman officer candidates in the Marine Corps Women Reserves. Training took place at Mount Holyoke College for six weeks where these women from all over learned basic military rules and regulations along with military courtesies. On completing the course, she was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Women’s Reserve, 4 May 1943. She was selected as adjutant to Colonel Katherine A. Towle (then a captain), at the Women’s Recruit Training Center at Hunter College in New York. Shortly afterwards she got her orders to Camp Lejeune, NC where she would oversee the women’s training battalion.  Col Hamblet was then transferred to Camp Pendleton where she was promoted to Captain and she worked as the Executive Officer of the Women Marine Reserve Company.  She assisted with the training other officer candidates in Quantico  between 1943 and 45. She served as the Director of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve from 1946 to 1948 and as Director of Women Marines from 1953 to 1959, retired from active service, 1 May 1965, with the rank of Colonel. She was awarded the Legion of Merit upon retirement for “outstanding service as planner, administrator and leader of Women Marines throughout a distinguished career which encompassed every major assignment in the women’s program.  Continue Reading »