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
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.