The USMC Celebrates Women's History Month
Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is proud to recognize Women’s History Month 2017. Throughout our history, women have served with courage and distinction in the United States Marine Corps in defense of our Nation's freedom and we recognize and celebrate the many ways that women's history has become woven into the fabric of our national story.
According to Marine Corps lore, the first woman to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in service to her country was Lucy Brewer. Disguised as a man, she allegedly served in the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Constitution during the War of 1812.
Over 100 years later on 12 August 1918, the Secretary of the Navy granted authority to enroll women for clerical duty in the Marine Corps Reserve. The next day, Opha M. Johnson enlisted and became the first official Woman Marine. During the remainder of World War I, 305 women enlisted to "free a man to fight."
Over 20 years later during World War II, roughly 1,000 officers and 18,000 enlisted women served, led by Col Ruth C. Streeter. During the last year of the war, all available male Marines were battling the Japanese in the Pacific. In their absence, Women Marines represented over half of the personnel at Marine Corps bases in the continental United States.
In 1948 Congress passed the Women's Armed Forces Integration Act, which authorized women in the regular component of the Marine Corps. Currently, more than six percent of today’s Marines are women and can be found serving across the globe in numerous Military Occupational Specialties.
For more information on women in the Marine Corps, please view exhibits found in the WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam galleries as well as the Museum Store.
Lin Ezell, director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps shares where you can find the history of the Woman Marine in the galleries.
Download our Women in the United States Marine Corps Special Topic Guide
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Admission and parking are FREE. Hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day, except Christmas Day.
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