Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Early Planning
The First WRs
Early Training: Holyoke and Hunter
Training: Camp Lejeune
Reserve Officer's Class
Specialist Schools
Director, MCWR
Assignment and Housing
Women's Reserve Band
Epilogue: War's End
Special Subjects
Women's Reserve Employment

FREE A MARINE TO FIGHT: Women Marines in World War II
by Colonel Mary V Stremlow, USMCR (Ret)

Reserve Officer's Class

Commissioning large numbers of NCOs caused the MCWR to shift the focus from making Marines out of civilian women to making officers out of enlisted women. An entirely new attitude and point of view was called for and this led to the creation of the Reserve Officer Class (ROC) for the newly commissioned officers in early December 1943.

It was meant to be a two-week introduction to life as an officer, but, almost immediately it was lengthened to four weeks to broaden the students' perspective and lessen the pressures that built up during basic officer training. Classes were less formal, privileges and responsibilities were given, and rational problem solving was stressed. The ROC staff tried to teach the new officers what they, if anyone, should have already known: toughness and threats are poor substitutes for firmness and motivation.

The staff revised and refined the course content for several months until finally, by the end of the third ROC, it was satisfied. Experienced officers from Camp Lejeune, nearby posts and stations, and Headquarters, Marine Corps augmented the regular staff. Outside speakers such as the Red Cross field director, the chaplain, and post psychiatrist described how they could assist line officers. ROC was immensely successful, principally because it was so practical, and even experienced MCWR officers, especially those who had been working in limited fields such as recruiting, were sent for advanced training.

Nine hundred sixty-five women, including the 11 with direct commissions and the 19 transferred from the WAVES at the start, were eventually commissioned in the Marine Corps Reserve. Of the 589 Class VI(a) reservists who began officer training, 72 or 12 percent were dropped and of the 641 Class VI(b) reservists selected from the ranks, 223 or 35 percent were not commissioned.

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division