The History of Molly Marine, The Award and Statue
In 1943, in the middle of World War II, Marine Technical Sgt. Charles Gresham, a recruiter, needed a way to promote the enlistment of females into the Marine Corps. He decided on a statue of a woman in uniform.
Gresham enlisted the help of French Quarter artist Enrique Alferez to sculpt the statue. Alferez used marble chips and granite instead of the usual bronze to cast the statue due to limitations imposed on materials because of the war. The statue would have to be restored twice during its lifetime due to the construction materials.
The original statue was dedicated Nov. 10, 1943, the year the women’s reserve was activated and also the day of the Marine Corps’ 168th birthday. Statues now stand as well at Quantico, Parris Island and now the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
The MOLLY MARINE AWARDS were approved by the Board on February 24, 1969. This program was developed by a special committee established to recognize noteworthy achievement by active duty Women Marines.
A ceramic statuette in the likeness of “Molly Marine” was selected as the award presentation. The initial expense of the art work, design and creation of the mold was paid for by Ruth Broe. The award was accompanied by a Certificate of Noteworthy Achievement, signed by the National President and National Secretary.
The awards were made as follows: To honor graduate; (1) of each Woman Officer Basic Course; (2) of each Woman Marine NCO Leadership Course, and (3) to the most desirable recruit in each graduation platoon. (with selection based on personality, ability to get along with other, attitude and decorum).
The award to the Woman Marine NCO Leadership Course was discontinued May 19, 1972. The award to the Woman Officer Basic Course was discontinued in 1978.
At the 1976 Board meeting approval was given, that when the supply of Molly Marine statuettes was depleted, the award would consist of the certificate, a one term membership in the women Marines Association, and a Membership Pin.
Molly Marine Award Today
This award is presented to one recruit, chosen by her peers, in each graduating platoon that has demonstrated qualities of an exemplary Marine. This is the only award given by WMA in the name of Molly Marine. A certificate, photo of Molly Marine as well as Molly Marine commemorative coin are presented. In addition, an entry is made in the Marines record book of their being selected to receive this award.
WMA member Linda Priest has led this program at Parris Island for the Association since 2005.