First women in the military show content of their character
via the American Military News web site
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, CA — In recognition of March as Women’s History Month, meet the trailblazing ladies who made history by becoming the first to serve in what had been a male-dominated profession, the United States military.
U.S. Marine Corps: Opha May Johnson
The first woman to join the Marine Corps was the 39-year-old wife of a District of Columbia orchestra conductor.
Born Opha May Jacob in Kokomo, Ind., in 1879, Opha May Johnson joined the Corps Aug. 13, 1918 — before she, or any woman for that matter, was even allowed to vote.
In 1918, as World War I raged on, Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy, opened the Marine Corps Reserves to women for service in clerical roles, so battle-ready male Marines could be sent overseas.
By luck of the draw, Johnson, a graduate of Wood’s Commercial College as a rapid-fire typist, was the first in line, among 300 other women, and became the first female Marine.
The first statue honoring a woman in military uniform, entitled “Molly Marine,” was dedicated in New Orleans in 1943 to encourage women to enlist, as well as to honor women who came after Johnson.
Johnson passed away in 1955 in Mount Alto Veterans Hospital in the District of Columbia.
U.S. Navy: Loretta Walsh
On March 21, 1917, Loretta Perfectus Walsh became America’s first official enlisted woman of any Service when she joined the Navy.
In the spring of 1917, the United States began preparing for the inevitability of war. However, men were not enlisting in sufficient numbers. On March 19, 1917, Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels determined that women could be enrolled in the U.S. Naval Reserve Force and issued an order authorizing their enlistment.
Read the entire article on the American Military News web site here:
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