Celebrating 100 Years of Women in the Corps
This year marks the centennial of women serving in the United States Marine Corps. Throughout our history, women have served with courage and distinction in the Corps in defense of our Nation's freedom. We recognize and celebrate the many ways that women's history has become woven into the fabric of our nation's 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.
Almost 100 years later in August 1918, the Secretary of the Navy granted authority to enroll women for clerical duty in the Marine Corps Reserve. On 13 August 1918, Opha May 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."
More than 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 the timeline below and visit our exhibits in the WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam galleries as well as the Museum Store.
Special Topic Guide
Pick up the Museum's Women in the United States Marine Corps Special Topic Guide at the Information Desk.
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