Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spotlight on Military Personnel - First Woman to enlist in the Marine Corps

Today is a double header!  Check out my spotlight of Navy spouse turned romance author Jennifer L. Hart as  she celebrates the release of WHO NEEDS A HERO?  at this link.

I'm on a role with the history books ...

... on this day in 1918, Opha Mae Johnson was the first of 305 women to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.   Almost a hundred years later, women are a vital part of the "few, the proud, the Marines."

Artemis is a regular commenter here at SOS Aloha ... and she is a Marine Veteran (married to a Marine Veteran).   Artemis joins us today to share a glimpse into the life of a female Marine.

Camp LeJeune 1944 .... crossed legs in unison!

Kim:  Why did you join the USMC?

Artemis:  It wasn't for any of the various grandiose reasons: see the world, get an education, be a part of something bigger, make a difference. Nope, not at all. It was totally selfish. I needed a way out and Uncle Sam was my only ticket. I didn't bother with any other branch of service. I walked into the Recruiter's station, asked a few general questions, and let him do his spiel. When he was done, I asked, "Where do I sign and when do I leave?"

Available from

Kim:  Can you name one challenge and one reward of being a Marine ... and then as a female Marine.

Artemis:  I asked Jim, Hubs, this question too, about the challenge and he had the same answer as I did: DISCIPLINE! The discipline that is necessary and essential to survive as a United States Marine. That is the first thing that you start to learn in boot camp as soon as you step off the bus. The transition from civilian to Marine is not an easy one and the installation of discipline plays an integral part of being a Marine. Discipline is the backbone of every Marine and is what gives each of them motivation to persevere.

A challenge, for me personally, as a female Marine was to perform as well as, if not better than, my fellow male Marines. Yes, I did know my physical limitations compared to most males and acknowledged them. However, when it came to performing my assigned MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), the boys had to take a back seat. This WM (Woman Marine) had them beat hands down! Let me share a little story with you. After boot camp, I was sent to Camp Johnson right outside of Camp Lejeune, NC, for additional training (schooling) before heading on to my permanent duty station. A "perk" of this twelve week training was that the Marine to graduate first in class would get their pick of the available duty stations. Yep, I was the only female Marine in my class. Those guys tried everything to distract me. (But I'll leave those war stories for another day. *snicker*) I graduated top of the class and promptly chose a US Naval Ship that was attached to Hawaii. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam was still battling the war of the sexes at the time and women weren't allowed on boats. *HMPH* Second choice - Camp Pendleton and off to the west coast I went.

The reward of being a Marine - that's easy. I did it! I survived! You have to realize, I wasn't a spring chicken when I left for boot camp - I was the oldest recruit there! Oh no, I wasn't right out of high school, I had a few years under my belt. I made it through the hell they call boot camp! Seriously, the pride of wearing the uniform, of being part of something bigger and better than myself. Of being a United States Marine.

Marine Etiquette in 1974

Kim:  What does Semper Fidelis mean to you (other than its literal translation)?

Artemis:  Jim has that tattooed on the inside of his left arm. Typical Male Marine. No tat for me. Those two simple Latin words hold such a world of meaning. When you are active duty, they are your life and you are surrounded by them constantly. They wrap you in comfort, like a pair of old slippers or cozy robe. It's a family you are always with and a part of.

"Once A Marine, Always A Marine" is so true. Marine Veterans have this eerie type of connection they use to recognize one another as a Marine Veteran.

We don't know each other from Adam and conversations start up and we can talk and talk and talk. Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful - faithful to The Corps. Faithful to our fellow Marines. That faithfulness never changes and it also spills over to our fellow country men and women.

Or I just get snarky: I can be the best friend you ever had or your worst enemy.

Mahalo, Artemis, for sharing with us at SOS Aloha!  In honor of your visit, I am donating a box of treats for the dogs deployed with the Marines in Afghanistan.   As Navy Doctor Tamara noted, all military personnel respect the job that the dogs perform in sniffing out bombs.

So I invite you to leave a comment or question for Artemis - the few, the proud, the Marines!


Kim in Hawaii 

To learn more about women of the Corps, log onto the USMC History at this link.

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq, 2007 - Iraqi Lioness Chapter  members
of the Women Marines Association 


  1. Discipline and comrades are all part of the service. How many of your fellow Marines do y ou still see and talk to?

  2. Thanks for sharing your story with us Artemis. And congrats for graduating the top of your class. My dad was a Marine too...stationed for a while at Camp Pendelton years ago.

  3. I am thrilled to read your blog today, I love the history story. Really great!!

  4. Yes, thank you Artemis for sharing this story with us. I can simply imagine the pride to know you completed basic training and have the right to wear the uniform. Huggles to you!

    No real marines in my family. Not really military minded.

  5. Debby, besides Hubs, only one that we actually served with, but with the advent of FB, I am constantly searching for others.

    Raonaid, it runs in the family. Both of our daughters married military men. One to a Naval Officer and the other to a National Guardsman. And yes, both of our SIL's saw action.

  6. Artemis, thank you for sharing this story with us; I bet you have a lot more stored away! Congratulations on graduating at the top of your class. Even these many years later, it must be a source of immense pride.

    How long were you in the Marines? Were you always at Camp Pendleton? What was your MOS?

    Thank you, and your family, for your service.

  7. Wow! I've have met women in the other services but never a Marine! Congrats to Artemis for her achievement and thanks to her family for their service!


  8. Wow, a marine - that's great!! My mother-in-law was in what was the Army/Air Force during WWII. She was only 5' tall and they use to put boards on the gas and breaks of a truck she drove so she could reach it!


  9. wow Artemis Pleasure to be in your company who knew?
    Was there one thing that you mastered right away but the Men struggled with?
    Have a good one Ann/alba

  10. Karen, my MOS was Supply Operations Administration. Yes, all of my tour was at Camp Pendleton with the MAG 39 (Marine Air Wing).

    catslady, I'm sure your MIL has some wonderful stories she could share with you!

    alba, what a great question! At the time I enlisted, it was the beginning of the computer era and I was like a sponge! On the unprofessional side, I was usually the last 'man' standing at at eclub!

    It's been fun and I thank Kim for letting me visit with ya'll. See ya' round the blog-o-sphere!

  11. Semper Fi! I, too, served in the Marine Corps. Enjoyed this interview very much.