Female veterans and active duty and future Marines were united Friday by the Women’s Marine Association to recognize Women’s History Month and celebrate the 73rd anniversary of proudly serving in the Marine Corps.
The ceremony at Paradise Point Officers Club on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune paid homage to female Marines, their proud history and their promising future.
“This [the association] is such a great organization and seeing all of the former active duty Marines from the Korean War era, some from Vietnam, and they are bringing in everything they have,” said Sgt. Maj. Yolanda Mayo, ceremony narrator and organizer.
“They have uniforms and pictures, and it’s just such a good time for us to sit back and say, ‘thank you for your service’ and welcome our new veterans as we have some of our youngest, soon to be Marines here who are in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.”
While all Marines have an important role to play, for many years female Marines have served alongside their male counterparts to accomplish the mission. Today, the new and future female Marines have new challenges but more opportunities ahead of them.
“Since I was little, I have wanted to be an infantry Marine. Even a couple years ago that wasn’t possible,” said Alana Baker, a Lejeune High School JROTC cadet. “I have wanted to be a Marine since I was a little kid, so being able to be around all these women who have pushed past these barriers and still have had successful careers, it’s really inspiring to me.”
Much like the official Marine Corps Birthday Ball, the ladies conducted a cake cutting ceremony, continuing tradition and heritage from one generation to the next.
“Passing on the history and tradition from the old to the young and bringing them into the fold, it means a lot,” said Mayo. “The Marine Corps is built on tradition so this is a little bit of ours.”
The unique ceremony offered special opportunities for past, present and future female Marines to share stories, advice, experiences and hardships with each other and to the world.
“Many Marines don’t understand 73 years of women Marine history, when we became a part of the women Marine reserves,” said Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner, Director Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy and event guest speaker. “A lot of Marines don’t know that, not just female Marines but Marines period. It took us a lot to get to this point, and we continue still to make history in the Marine Corps and junior Marines should understand they have a special part in Marine Corps history.”
Story by Cpl. Jared Lingafelt