We know very well how women took over the regular social functions of men when they were sent to Europe to combat the German and Japanese forces. They became mechanics, factory workers, and anything that the men of the country used to do. Rosie the Riveter became the WWII icon that represented the women who took over everyday workforce duties in wartime. The truth was these women did not only play the role of office workers or night watchers or do motor transport duties. They also played the role of female marines during World War II.

Roosevelt Signed the Law

On July 30, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt officially penned the bill into law that would allow the creation of a woman’s Marine Reserve. The law allowed the women to be accepted into the Reserve at the enlisted level.  There were women Marines in WWI but they were a temporary war measure and not a permanent part of the Corps. The new bill also allowed them to serve as commissioned officers. Their service would be until the war’s full duration plus six more months after it ended. The main purpose of this law, as we know, was so that they could fill administrative duties and maximize the number of men that could fight on the front lines, so from 1943 to 1945, thousands of American women enlisted and took on the administrative tasks of the Marine Corps in the states and even overseas.

The first Women Marine recruits waiting to be shipped to New York for training at Hunter College receive instructions from 1stLt Helen Perrell at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Department of Defense Photo (USMC)

Not to say that all women who wanted to join could just walk in and get enlisted. There were still requirements that had to be followed. For instance, they had to be American citizens, have no children under 18 years old, and not married to a Marine.

On February 13, 1943, the US Marine Commandant Major General Thomas Holcomb announced the formation of this Woman’s Reserve.