FREE A MARINE TO FIGHT: Women Marines in World War II
by Colonel Mary V Stremlow, USMCR (Ret)
The primary sources for this pamphlet are History
of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve: A Critical Analysis of its
Development and Operation, 1943-1945 (Washington 6Dec45), written by
Cols Ruth Cheney Streeter and Katherine A. Towle at the end of the war,
and LtCol Pat Meid's Marine Corps Women's Reserve in World War II
(Washington: Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine
Oral history transcripts of interviews with Col
Streeter, Ruth Cheney Streeter, A Lively Life (Morristown, N.J.
1979), and Col Katherine A. Towle, Katherine A. Towle, Administration
and Leadership (Berkeley: University of California, 1970), give
behind the scenes insights into the era. A Women in the Military: An
Unfinished Revolution, written by MajGen Jeanne Holm, USAF (Ret), is
a key reference because it presents a complete picture, comparing the
road taken by each service in integrating women into the Armed Forces
and argues that interservice cooperation among the female directors
played a vital part in the success of all.
Special thanks are reserved for Peter A. Soderbergh,
who allowed the author to use anecdotal material from his entertaining
and informative social history, Women Marines: The World War II
Era (Westport and London: Praeger Publishers, 1992). Stories about
the women of the WR Band are from their privately published history,
Musical Women Marines of World War II.
The author's previously published, A History of
the Women Marines, 1946-1977 (Washington, D.C.: History and Museums
Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1986), and Coping With
Sexism in the Military (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 1990),
were also used. Marine Corps World War II recruiting brochures and
booklets, especially "Be A Marine . . . Free a Marine to Fight: U. S.
Marine Corps Women's Reserve'; and "So Proudly We Serve: U. S. Marine
Corps Women's Reserve;" were important sources of information regarding
recruiting, training, and job opportunities.
"Lady Leathernecks," written by Col Towle for the
Marine Corps Gazette and published in February 1946, is a good
summary of the era. Finally, the contributions of the WRs who entrusted
me with their precious photographs and took the time to pen their
personal stories were immeasurable. I hope this overview brings back
many fond memories.
About the Author
Colonel Mary V. Stremlow, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
(Ret), Deputy Director, New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs,
has a bachelor of science degree from New York State University College
at Buffalo. Her Marine Corps service includes experience as a company
commander; staff operations officer; executive officer, Woman Recruit
Training Battalion, Parris Island; inspector-instructor, Women's Reserve
Platoon, 3d Infantry Battalion, Boston; instructor at the Woman Officer
School, Quantico; woman officer selection officer for the 1st Marine
Corps District; and officer-in-charge, Mobilization Station,
She is the author of an official history, A
History of the Women Marines, 1946-1977, and of Coping With
Sexism in the Military. She is a frequent public speaker on the
history of women veterans and for three years served on the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.
Colonel Stremlow counts three other women Marines in
her family Sergeant Rose M. Nigro and Master Sergeant Petrina C.
Nigro, both Women Reservists in World War II, and her sister, retired
Major Carol Vertalino Diliberto.
THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to
U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education and
training of Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters,
U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of
Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.
Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been
defrayed in part by a bequest from the estate of Emilie H. Watts, in
memory of her late husband, Thomas M. Watts, who served as a Marine and
was the recipient of a Purple Heart.
WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES
DIRECTOR OF MARINE CORPS HISTORY AND MUSEUMS
Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)
WORLD WAR II COMMEMORATIVE SERIES
Benis M. Frank
George C. MacGillivray
EDITING AND DESIGN SECTION, HISTORY AND MUSEUMS DIVISION
Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor; W. Stephen Hill, Visual
Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services
Technician, R.D. Payne, VolunteerWeb Edition
Marine Corps Historical Center
Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5040
PCN 190 003129 00