My Molly Marine Award

November 1975, when I was a young and eager 18 year old, I was selected by vote of the platoon to receive the Molly Marine Award. This award was given to the recruit which best exemplifies the spirit of Molly Marine and was the best example of a United States Marine. At the time, I likened it to the “Miss Congeniality” Award. I was liked, fair, caring and motivated. My spirit in Boot Camp was always high. I spoke the truth and shared my willingness to listen to other recruit problems and issues. I helped out where needed and consoled those who were feeling down. When I graduated from Boot Camp I also received the honor of being selected for the “Dress Blues” Honor Graduate award for BOTH platoons. My experience in Boot Camp was truly a very special time of my life.

Molly Marine Heidi Larson

What do I think about the award and why I was selected?

Boot Camp happened over 35 years ago for me, and I can still go back to Parris Island in my mind like it was yesterday. I loved it. Really. Every minute spent in Boot Camp was so different and exciting to me. I was 17 years old and had graduated from High School the previous June. Joining the Marine Corps was something I had decided to do during my senior year. While all my friends were being accepted to college, I decided on the Corps; no one encouraged me, I had no role models to follow, or relatives (I knew of) that served. I wanted to join the “Elite Force”. I had the drive and determination to be the best that I could be, to excel, to learn, and to have ADVENTURE. Each day I did my very best and put my best foot forward. My main objective was to BE positive and STAY positive. When situations went wrong for the platoon, I tried to lift up everyone’s spirits and get the platoon back in the right direction.

In one example I can recall the low morale our platoon had after a really poor drill practice. I vividly remember Gunny Carter screaming at us, saying how bad and pathetic we were, telling the platoon he was “Through with us.” The whole platoon felt the lowest of lows and that we were doomed. After we headed back into the squad-bay, I remember telling everyone that we shouldn’t give up, and to keep working on it and get it right on our own. I remember trying to make everyone laugh about it and think on the bright side, trying to turn the negative into positive. I also recall helping out the girls who couldn’t remember their right foot from their left in the the laundry room and squad-bay, in the head, practicing “about face”, standing at attention, saluting and “snapping to”. “Snapping to” was a concept not many of the girls understood, the idea of being crisp and sharp wasn’t working. So we practiced over and over, until, as a platoon we finally worked it all out. After demonstrating to the Gunny that we had “conquered” the hurdle, in his own grumpy Gunny voice he told us how surprised he was of “the Herd”. I think he was being nice?

To what do I account for my motivation and positive outlook?

I really think it was my upbringing. My family was supportive and a positive force in every aspect of my life. I always had a sense of humor and would find the bright side to everything. Being a part of a group or association like Girl Scouting, working as a team, team building and sharing helped as well. Another positive aspect was my creative side, being able to see and create with an imaginative mind. Being able to “see” the picture, looking at the positive aspects and making them come to fruition, not just in shape and form, but imaginative.

How do I feel about the Molly Marine Award today?

My Molly Marine statue stands about 12 inches high, is ceramic, with a black pearl glaze. Typed in gold states: “Molly Marine Award for Noteworthy Achievement presented by The Women Marines Association”. On the back is a bronze nameplate that says: “Heidi J. Larson Platoon 9B”. The statue is much more than a statue. It represents an honor far beyond anything I have received in life. To be selected by your “sisters” as being the BEST example of a United States Marine is the highest honor one can imagine. My immediate thought at the time was not about ME…but all the girls. My platoon, my sisters who worked together, drilled together, PT’d together, breathed the same air together. We became ONE. One platoon. We thought as one. It is an example of sisterhood, and long lasting bonds. I didn’t stand out in my own mind. I was part of the ONE. This, to me, is what the Molly Marine award means.

Today I am a happy, healthy, and creative 53 year-old woman. I teach Art and Design and love my job. I have a wonderful family and I hope to pass on the same true positive spirit on to my son. Thank you to the platoon members from 9B 1975. I have not forgotten you, nor have I forgotten the honor you gave to me.

Semper Fi,
Heidi (Larson) Hurley

  9 comments for “My Molly Marine Award

  1. Judith Gifford
    1 Apr 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Awwww…Just loved your story Heidi! I took a trip back to PI as I read about your experience. I was there in 78 and remember it very much like you do. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Mitzi Manning
    1 Apr 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I remember your name well. The 9 Series was the first that 1st Lt. Bouchie had alone. She and I were the only two series officers in Woman Recruit Training Battalion, so we were particularly close and I knew about her good recruits (and REALLY knew about her not so good recruits…many of them were re-cycled to my series). I enjoyed your memories of that time and your impression of why you were selected as Molly Marine. I am looking at my “Molly” as I write this. In the days just before women were allowed to live out at the Basic School and way before the training became completely integrated, the Women Officers Candidate Course also voted on a Molly Marine. The candidates in first and second platoons picked me. I was the oldest candidate in both platoons, turning 29 4 days before I reported to train. I had taught school for 5 years and coached high school basketball for 3 years…I was used to listening to problems, and in some cases that is what I found myself doing a lot of during training. Although I kiddingly called the second oldest candidate “Mom” (and did throughout our long careers in the Corps) I think that for some, I was a “Mom” figure. That coupled with the fact that I understood the “tear them down and build them up as a team” training philosophy, was probably why I was selected as the Molly Marine. I too was Honor Grad, but it didn’t mean nearly as much, because my buddies had made me Molly Marine…and they were the ones who saw me all the time, not just when I was putting on my game face for the training staff. They knew that I cared about them, the platoon, the Corps, and they thought they saw in me the Esprit de Corps that is the hallmark of a Marine. I was touched and moved to tears. “Molly” is one of my proudest possessions still, and whenever I pull out my scrapbook and look at those young Marine candidates from 1972, I smile and remember how we laughed and cried and pulled together to finally earn our Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.

  3. Bobbi Roffo
    2 Apr 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Heidi, with your positive and adventuresome spirit and your creative talent, you continue to inspire all who have the honor of knowing you! I think of you often and am so grateful we are lifelong friends since we first met at age 12. I knew about your award and what a wonderful honor it is, and I enjoyed reading about the sisterhood bond and the details you shared today! Congratulations once again! — Bobbi

  4. 2 Apr 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Heidi. The molly marine award is something to be VERY proud of. Being at parris island myself may,june,july and august of 1975 the commitment that you had to put foward to even be thought of for that award is nothing but exemplary !then to be choosen for it (you don’t win it) by the instructor’s.semper -fi . One thing I did notice when I was their as did the instructor’s most of the stand out marines came from the northeast especially from mass. My platoon 349 graduated with every award. We missed platoon of the year by 2 votes.and most of the recruit’s where from you being molly marine just backs up what I just said. Thank you Heidi. Your one of a seect few women marines

  5. Laurie Riddell
    5 Feb 2013 at 8:51 am

    Heidi, so surprised when I did a search on 1975 Parris Island Women Marines to see the picture attached to your blog pop up. That’s my platoon!!!

    Laurie Riddell

  6. Dede Lewis Leuthe
    5 Feb 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Excellent article. I was at PI in 1975, 5B was my platoon and Lt. Bouche was my series officer. I believe we were the only Women Marines from South Dakota on active duty. Ahh the memories.
    Dede Lewis Leuthe

  7. Ellen McGriffin Aspey
    12 Jan 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I happened across this website and am so glad I did. I was in Platoon 6A (June, July, August 1975) and will forever cherish the experience. I, too, was the Molly Marine Award recipient and cherish that honor. Boot Camp and the USMC gave me valuable life experiences that I will keep with me forever. Semper Fi!

  8. 2 Mar 2015 at 4:46 am

    Marines, this was an excellent article. I received my “Molly Marine” statue as a recruit from Platoon 8A. I can still hear Staff Sergeant Gray yelling at me because I did something right, lol and emphasizing that I can always do it better. She was 5′ and one of the meanest and toughest ladies I have met, to this day and I say that lovingly. That statue represented to me that I could do anything that I put my mind to and do it well. It set the tone for my life as I went on to get a Bachelor’s, Master’s and a PhD. The memories came flooding back . But I am saddened because someone broke into my parents home and stole my statue. Does anyone know of a place where I can get one reordered? Dr. Audrey Newsome

  9. Marie Nuzzi
    15 Mar 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful story. I was at Parris island in the summer of 1979, platoon 11B. I, too, was Molly Marine. However, I never received a statue. My award was a certificate. I wonder if they stopped giving the statue in the late 70’s.

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