Women in the Marine Corps
Story by Lance Cpl. Megan L. Stiner

A World War II Marine Corps poster called women out to join America's workforce, to boldly "Free A Marine to Fight!" Today, women are fully integrated into the workforce and this year's theme of National Women's History Month, "Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility," underscores the impact of women in modern day society.

Looking back on the history of women in the Corps quickly brings one to Opha Mae Johnson, the first woman to enlist into the Marine Corps Reserves on Aug. 13, 1918. Along with her, 304 other females served in the Reserves during World War I. After the war ended, all 305 females were separated from the Corps.

Women didn't serve in the Corps again - for nearly 25 years - until General Thomas Holcomb, the 17th Commandant of the Marine Corps, announced the formation of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve on Feb. 13, 1943.

Over the years, the roles that women have fulfilled in the Corps have also increased. By the 1970s, women began to be assigned to Fleet Marine Force units, and by 1975, they could be assigned to all occupational fields except combat arms, air defense and antiterrorism units.

"Molly Marine" - The first U.S. monument of a woman in uniform was dedicated in New Orleans on November 10, 1943 to honor all women Marines. 

Marine Corps' First
Enlisted Woman


Private Johnson became the Marine Corps' first enlisted woman on 13 August, 1918. Her enlistment was a reflection of the dramatic changes in the status of women brought about by the entry of the United States into World War I. Marine Reserve (F) was the official title by which the Marine Corps' first enlisted women were known. They were better known as "skirt Marines" and "Marinettes."

Women Marines