Feb. 13 each year marks the Birthday of Women in the United States Marine Corps

'Free a man to fight!' This was the call for women to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve during two world wars. Feb. 13, 2013, marked the 70th anniversary of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve. Although 305 women served in the Marine Corps Reserve during World War I, all were separated from service by June 30, 1919 after the war ended. It wasn't until Feb. 13, 1943, that Gen. Thomas Holcomb, the 17th Commandant of the Marine Corps, announced the formation of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve.

Following Japan's surrender, demobilization of the Women's Reserve proceeded rapidly, with only 1,000 remaining in the reserve by July 1946. Then Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, which authorized the acceptance of women into the regular component of the Marine Corps and other Armed Services.

For the first time in history, the Women's Reserve was mobilized in August 1950 for the Korean War, reaching peak strength of 2,787 active-duty women Marines. Again, they stepped into stateside jobs and freed male Marines for combat duty. By the height of the Vietnam War, about 2,700 hundred active-duty women Marines served stateside and overseas. During this period, the Marine Corps began opening career-type formal training programs to women officers and advanced technical training to enlisted women. It was also during the 1970s that women Marines were assigned to Fleet Marine Force units for the first time. By 1975, women could be assigned to all occupational fields except infantry, artillery, armor and pilot/air crew.

The 1990s saw additional changes and increased responsibilities for women in the Marine Corps, including flying combat aircraft. Approximately 1,000 women Marines were deployed to Southwest Asia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991. Women have served in every rank from private to lieutenant general.

Milestones for women in the Marine Corps include:

  • Col. Margerat A. Brewer's appointment to brigadier general in 1978 made her the Corps' first woman general officer.
  • Col. Gail M. Reals was the first woman to be selected by a board of general officers for advancement to the rank of brigadier genera in 1985.
  • Brig. Gen. Carol A. Mutter became the first woman to assume command of a Fleet Marine Force unit at the flag level when she assumed command of the 3rd Force Service Support Group in Okinawa in 1992.
  • 2nd Lt. Sarah Deal became the first woman Marine selected for Naval aviation training in 1993.
  • In 1994, Brig. Gen Mutter became the first woman major general in the Corps and the senior woman on active duty in the Armed Forces.
  • Lt. Gen. Mutter made history again when she became the first woman Marine to wear three stars in 1996.
  • Today, women serve in 93 percent of all occupational fields and 62 percent of all billets. Women constitute 6.2 percent of the Corps end strength and are an integral part of the Marine Corps.

This, the 70th anniversary of continuous active service of women in the Marine Corps, is a significant part of the Corps' history and today's female Marines carry on that heritage.

~ Placed With Pride by Dave ~ The PalletMaster
"Please pray for our brothers and sisters serving our country and keep praying to bring them home safely. It is ironic that when it comes down to it-- that it's men and women of rough persuasion who have to do all the hard things that the general population is incapable of doing, and then the general population disowns them. It's called being a soldier."

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