Greater Corps Legacy: 100 years of women in the Marine Corps

2 Oct 2018 | Staff Sgt. Shakima Deprince The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Paying homage to the women that sacrificed, conquered and impacted history over the past century is the focus of the 2018 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show at MCAS Miramar, California, from Sept. 28 through Sept. 30.

“The 2018 MCAS Miramar Air Show honored 100 years of women in the Marine Corps because of the courageous actions of Opha May Johnson and more than 300 women that stood in line to become the very first female Marines to enlist on Aug. 13, 1918,” said Col. Charles B. Dockery, commanding officer of MCAS Miramar. “They are now apart of our greater Corps legacy that our young men and women continue to build today.”

To showcase the tenacity of these women warriors and the various ways they positively impacted the Marine Corps, the air show featured several performances and historical exhibits to recognize and honor women in the Marine Corps, and their contributions to the service’s legacy.

Each performance and exhibit gave the public the opportunity to experience and learn about the jobs women held in the very beginning, starting with World War I, to their recently accomplished milestones – looking back on the advancement and accomplishments of women in Marine Corps history. 

The exhibits included the AWRS-7 Lady Marines, a historical reenactment organization that portrays members of the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve Squadron based in MCAS El Toro, California, during World War II. 

“Often, it’s forgotten that women served in World War I and World War II,” said Sara Tellez, an AWRS-7 reenactor. “Their contribution is often left out of history books. It’s exciting to bring it to life and show the public how women have integrated into the Marine Corps in the last 100 years.”

In addition to AWRS-7, the U.S. Marine Corps Historical Company, Women Marines Association, Women’s Museum of California, Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and three panelists provided resources and content for exhibits during the air show.

Retired Col. Marianne S. Waldrop, Capt. Reinalyn Paz Golino and 1st Lt. Virginia Brodie were the panelists in a daily meet and greet, offering first-hand experience and knowledge of being a woman in the Marine Corps and discussing their specific contributions to Marine Corps history.

“I’m honored to be the face of so many women, who made up that demographic over the last hundred years,” said Waldrop. “I don’t believe that I have been a trailblazer, but I do believe that my significance in this anniversary can be a bridge between the old Corps that had very different opportunities and the new Corps that has just had the last barrier lifted in 2016 – to allow an opportunity for women to attempt any job opportunity in the Marine Corps.”

Twice a day, the panelists participated in the meet and greet and spoke with air show guests and active duty Marines – interacting with women, who have served as well as those still serving in impactful positions that were either history making or celebratory. 

“This air show helped me to recognize woman can also do the same things men can do and that’s awesome,” said Catherine Phan, a guest at the 2018 MCAS Miramar Air Show.

The special guests, exhibits highlighting women Marines’ history and the performances special to the 2018 MCAS Miramar Air Show helped bridge the gap for Marines and guests alike.

“This air show has been important for not only Miramar, but our whole community. We’ve not only been able to honor 100 years of women in the Marine Corps, but we’ve been able to pull this whole community together and put on an air show for San Diego,” said Dockery. “Not only with just our Marines but with local partners such as the San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sherriff, San Diego Fire, Mercy Air and the list goes on. Thank you everyone for what you’ve done for us here at Miramar and we’ll see you again next year.”