CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Earlier this month, the Equal Opportunity Office on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune hosted A Walk Through History, a Women's History Month event that included a static display of female Marine uniforms and memorabilia from 1943-2023, remarks from a panel of female Marines, and a discussion about female Marine history.
“Women’s suffrage was a hard-fought battle that culminated in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1920, granting women the right to vote,” said Gunnery Sgt. Zarina Flemming, the Bravo Company equal opportunity advisor with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East-MCB Camp Lejeune. “This was a major accomplishment that was a catalyst for many significant contributions by women to various fields throughout history.”
One such significant contribution occurred within the United States Marine Corps in 1918. Before being granted the right to vote, Opha May Johnson made the decision to be the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps.
“I think attending events like this gives a better understanding of what some of the women we serve with have overcome and we get to witness history." Gunnery Sgt. Zarina Flemming, Bravo Company equal opportunity advisor with Headquarters and Support Battalion
Throughout the years, women in the military have stepped into leadership roles and paved the way for future generations to make history as the first women in their fields. MCB Camp Lejeune takes time every March during Women’s History Month to honor women through a panel where female Marines can reflect on their time in the Marine Corps. These women take the time to answer questions and pass on knowledge to others about their experiences as women in the Marine Corps.
“I think attending events like this gives a better understanding of what some of the women we serve with have overcome and we get to witness history,” said Flemming. “It was great to have Master Gunnery Sgt. Lora on a panel. Since the founding of our Corps, she is the first female Marine to be promoted to the rank of master gunnery sergeant in the 3051 MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) [Marine Corps Warehouse Storage Operations Staff Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge]. Many people do not realize there are women in our presence that have made Marine Corps history.”
Women all around us continue to make military history because they were not always afforded the same opportunities as men. As recently as 2013, the first three female Marines graduated from the Marine Corps’ enlisted infantry training course. In 2016, all gender-based restrictions on military service were lifted by the Department of Defense, and in 2017Pfc. Maria Daum became the first female Marine to join the infantry through the traditional entry-level training process. Since then, women have made waves of progress in the infantry.
“As a Marine, I am proud to see how far women have come in the roles we play in the military without any restrictions on MOS or billets,” said Flemming. “Personally, I am proud that I had an opportunity to participate in a Marine Corps-wide experiment and become one of the first women to attain the 1833 (Amphibious Assault Vehicle Crewman) MOS.”
Women’s History Month celebrates the accomplishments of women in every facet of life, and the Camp Lejeune Women’s History Month panel showcases the diversity of perspective and experience from active duty and retired women in the Marine Corps.