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Christmas Holiday Memories of Women Marines

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all!

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Today, we have a nice cornicopia for you.  Memories from Women Marines of various decades, photos, vintage postcards, as well as a special carol written by a Woman Marine while she was on the Drill Field in 1993!

We’ll start this ‘party’ with the carol:  The 12 Days of Boot Camp by Gail Horn

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On the First day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me….

    An M-16 Service Rifle

On the Second day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

    Two Canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Third day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

    Three Trips to the Chowhall , two Canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Fourth day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

    Four Magazines, Three trips to the Chowhall, two canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Fifth day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

    FIVE Drill Instructors!

    Four Magazines, Three trips to the Chowhall, two canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Sixth day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

    Six green T-Shirts,  

FIVE Drill Instructors!

    Four Magazines, Three trips to the Chowhall, two canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Seventh day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

    Seven days of Mess Duty, Six Green T-Shirts,

FIVE Drill Instructors!

Four Magazines, Three trips to the Chowhall, two canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Eighth day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

Eight trips to the Pitt, Seven days of Mess Duty, Six Green T-Shirts,

FIVE Drill Instructors!

Four Magazines, Three trips to the Chowhall, two canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Ninth day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

Nine Nasty firewatches, Eight trips to the Pitt, Seven days of Mess Duty, Six Green T-Shirts,

FIVE Drill Instructors!  

Four Magazines, Three trips to the Chowhall, two canteens – and an M-16 Service Rifle

On the Tenth day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me

    Ten Rounds of Rapid Fire, Nine nasty firewatches ……

On the Eleventh day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me…

    Eleven General Orders, Ten Rounds of Rapid Fire……

On the Twelfth Day of Boot Camp the Marine Corps gave to me.

Twelve weeks of training, Eleven General Orders, Ten rounds of Rapid fire, Nine Nasty firewatches, Eight trips to the Pitt, Seven days of Mess Duty, Six Green T-Shirts,

FIVE Drill Instructors!

Four Magazines, Three trips to the Chowhall, two canteens –

and an M-16 Service Rifle!

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Leatherneck cover from December 2004

It’s a rare Marine that doesn’t remember their very first holiday away from home. Whether one is stateside or overseas, it leaves a long lasting impression.  Here are some of YOUR memories. They run the gamut from happy to sad to mixed to tragic to unexpected demonstrations of goodwill and generosity from brother and sister Marines.  Unless specified and permitted, all Marines in this article are identified by military installation and year in order to protect their privacy.

Monica 2

A Camp Lejeune Christmas 1957. Picture courtesy of Monica Stewart

 my 1st Christmas…was in boot camp. They did let us have Christmas Cake…and church. 

Parris Island, year unknown.

Very sad missed my family plus my grandma had just passed away. I was depressed. I think we were allowed a phone call home but nobody answered my call. I think they’re might have been cake in the chow hall but don’t think we were allowed any

Parris Island 2004

My first in the fleet is what I remember, since I wasn’t home. My parents actually sent me a small artificial tree which I decorated and put my presents under. It was great! A touch of home. 

Base and year unknown

I had just gotten a telephone in my barracks room and didn’t know I could charge calls to it so I called my Dad & Stepmom collect. They denied the charges
A few hours late called my Aunt & she accepted – and promptly chewed my dad out in front of everyone.
Offered to make a traditional English dinner for my boss, her family and a bunch of single Marines at her apartment in the towers on Camp Kinser. Roast beef & Yorkshire pudding. We learned that all milk on Oki at the time was “reconsituted” which meant it was powdered milk re-mixed with coconut oil. You don’t really notice a difference until you try to bake with it. The Yorkshire pudding was Yorkshire slop but we had a really good laugh about it.

Okinawa, year unknown

OEF Dec13_2004 Make A Way Christmas Card CompetitionHCard

My roommates both went home & a friend & I found a 3 ft artificial tree at Goodwill. We set it up & decorated it in my room. The Recon Sgt I was dating came to get me on his Harley at 8 am, Christmas day, to take me to a bar he’d found that served the beer from my hometown! lol. It was 21 degrees outside!

Camp Lejeune 1980

spent it in a cheap hotel near base just to soak in a bath tub and sleep in a room to myself.

Cook school at Camp Johnson 1981

Graduated boot camp, arrived home just passed midnight, my Dad dies 6 hours later, on Christmas Eve, i’ve been living a Forest Gump life ever since – surely I will live a long time, I got stories to tell!

Base unknown, 1981

I worked Christmas eve and Christmas day, but we got gift bags from the PX and 7 Day. We were all really good friends at the time, so even though we were standing our posts, it really wasn’t that bad. And our higher ups brought in food and hot chocolate for us.

Base and year unknown

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Believe it or not I was able to spend my first Christmas in the Corps at home. I graduated on my 18th birthday and my recruiter made it so I could do recruiter’s duty with him and I was able to stay home for the holidays. it was great. sadly that was the last Christmas I spent home with my family. But I have spent the rest with my new family, husband and children.

Base and year unknown

Had Xmas dinner with Vietnamese refugee children, played games, way cool really, cause I missed my 5 yr old sister.

Camp Pendleton 1975

My first one sucked. Found out that a friend of my room mates was brutally raped and murdered on Christmas Eve after she left from visiting us, they found her Christmas morning. I think that will haunt me for the rest of my life because we tried to convince her to stay with us.

base and year unknown

…I had no idea it could be so cold in the desert. My mom asked what I wanted for Christmas and I asked for towels and an electric blanket for my rack in my room. We were 2 or 3 to a room in a 3 wing barracks with a wall around it and a guard at night time. The electric blanket was fantastic and I kept it for years. I have very very few good memories of my mother but it is one of them.

29 Palms, 1974

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I was pregnant and my roommate Joan Maguiness went home on a 48 hr pass to NYC. DR wouldn’t let me go so I was all alone. Slept most of the day. But she brought me baby gift back from her family.

Cherry Point, NC Year Unknown

I  had just graduated MOS school, reported in my duty station and was immediately sent on Mess Duty. I was engaged to be married and was kinda bummed out that I wouldn’t be able to spend Christmas Day with my fiance (now ex-husband.) Well, little did I know that some of the guys at the chow hall and my fiance planned a surprise for me. When it came time for my dinner break, they had me go to a small room, and in that room was a table set for two…complete with candles … AND my fiance! I was so happy I cried tears of joy right then and there! It was one of the nicest things anyone had done for me at Christmas. The next Christmas I was a newlywed but nothing beats out that one in ’79.

Camp Pendleton, 1979

…spent [Christmas] on the rifle range in boot camp. We got to make a 5 minute phone call home talking in 3rd person from Santa. Good times with my sisters.

Base unknown, 2000

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Had 72 hour leave went up to San Francisco from Barstow to visit with a great aunt, my cousins and their children..

Undisclosed base in California, 1967

…18 years old and checked in right before Christmas for C&E School. I was all alone Christmas Day in the barracks having a pity party when the OD came by and cheered me up. She was my savior that day…Wish I remembered her name!

MCRD San Diego 1970

I was actually at home, ….stationed with the I & I staff, but working at the local recruiting stations and working through the Chicago head office where MEPS is located as my brother was in a horrible motorcycle accident….almost lost his leg, but all ended up ok….stationed at home for 6 months on recruiting duty…..ran an office by myself for a couple months and was meritoriously promoted to Lance Corporal.

Illinois, year unknown

I was a 2d Lt and was OD at WM Co

 MCRD, San Diego 1964

vmail_wwII_christmas

While I was stateside, I usually managed to get leave. Overseas…Japan was sort of surreal. Christmas, but not? No Jesus to the season…but Santa, snowmen and reindeer everywhere. They love Christmas and New Year, but it is just a buying fest and a day off work! So funny. I ate with friends and went to mass. Called the family. Talked about football. Don’t remember a whole lot. That same Christmas in Japan, I managed to get a long delayed travel stipend in my pay, and I bought a tiny TV and my first VCR. I had a tiny little tree and some little Christmas statuettes. You know, I was so ready to be away from home at that time, I didn’t miss things at home, my family was rather screwed up at that time and only beginning to heal itself. I was sort of happy for the time away.

US and Overseas 1980s

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Christmas Greeting from 1919.

First Christmas, and since I was a boot lieutenant, I got Christmas duty. The guy I was dating was an HMX pilot and he gave me a remote control helicopter in my stocking. I took it to the barracks and my fire watches got to play with it. There were actually quite a few gals in the barracks who were not going home, so we had a good group in the WM mess hall…and the meal was good.

Quantico, VA 1972

– I did not make it home to Missouri.  I spent the holiday with friends in the base Enlisted Club watching the guys (Military Policemen) crying in their beer because they did not make it home.

Hawaii, 1979

1st Duty Station. Office Christmas Party and a boyfriend kept me from being too homesick on my 1st Christmas away from home at 25

Okinawa 1984

We  were lucky enough to have a stove in a little alcove of the gear closet. A bunch of us went to the commissary and manage to put together a rather “large” (we are talking about the barracks) meal which helped ward off the loneliness of not being with our families and….no family drama.

Okinawa 1983

1956 Christmas Card Marine Barracks Yokosuka

We went caroling through officer housing  and then went to the phone bank–I couldn’t believe they let us call home on Christmas Eve! I talked to my mom for a few minutes… Otherwise, my platoon had mess duty that week, so we couldn’t attend services on Christmas day. I had regrets only because I wasn’t able to participate in the consumption of sugary sweets that I later learned were eaten..!

Parris Island year unknown

I’d been married for three months, so it was a special day for us. We didn’t buy each other presents, we bought lots of little ones, and handed them out to the gate guards, those on duty at the barracks and everyone else we could find. It was an amazing day, and one that will always be special to me.

Cherry Point, NC  1981

Seems like many of us spent our first Christmas in Boot Camp. I just remember that it was warm..seemed strange to see palm trees when being from Michigan I was use to snow. I remember that dinner was very nice and there was no diet line that day.

Parris Island 1974

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Women reservists Winter 1944 Henderson Hall, VA

waiting for Computer School to start. I was on mess duty, so after Mass I headed over to the mess hall to dish up eggs, bacon and all the fixings. I had just been home for Thanksgiving, so I wasn’t all that upset.

Quantico, 1970

Had just gotten to my first duty station, it was just before Christmas and I didn’t know anyone. My roomies were on leave and I had the room to myself. I got a care package from home and I explored the base and just got acquainted with the area. It was interesting.

MCAS Beaufort 1986

…myself and a couple other Sgts put little gifts by the doors through out the barracks at midnight. it was fun listening to the Marines as they came from Midnight Mass or out and about finding the candies at their door

Okinawa 1987

Xmas_land_sea_air

I will never forget my first Christmas in the Corps. 18 and too poor to fly home. Well, the most amazing thing happened. A Marine couple living off base baked a big Christmas dinner. The husband went to the male barracks the wife went to the female barracks. They had decided to celebrate with their ‘Marine family’ and brought those of us who were not able to go home to their house. It was awesome. Had I gone home like I wanted to I would never have met my future husband!

1976 HQMC Arlington, VA

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About Sabrina

Mom, grandmama, Orthodox Christian, Russophile, arts and culture enthusiast, USMC Veteran

2 comments on “Christmas Holiday Memories of Women Marines

  1. I was on the Drill Field 1958-1961 and spent he Holidays with my Plts. I loved it when we surprised them with small items in their stockings. We gathered in the Lower Lounge in the morning and sang Christmas Carols and asked each to share their best Christmas story with us. It was the one time during Recruit Training that we could really relax with them. Many tears were shed by those away from home for their first time and the first Christmas away from home.. Trading snow for sand fleas wasn’t their idea of a fun time!! I loved that duty..

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