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c o u r t e s y o f A u d r e y

Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 310463
Col Katherine A. Towle, second director
of the Women's Reserve and first post-
war Director of Women Marines, was a
dean at the University of California, Ber-
keley, before entering the Marine Corps.
Corps detachment's sergeant
major, a Marine of some thirty
years' service. He really must
have had some bad moments.
What you will do when
you're a good Marine, is really
something. Every day for the
first week he would escort me
to a quiet room away from cu-
rious eyes (which was just as
well) and give me instructions
in how to salute properly, as
well as other helpful lessons on
what was expected of a Marine
Corps officer. And I shall cer-
tainly always be grateful to Ser-
geant Major [Halbert A. ]
McElroy . . . for helping to
make a proper officer out of
me. He really personified the
pride of being a Marine and he
soon indoctrinated me with this
same feeling. I was determined,
no matter what happened, not
to let him down after he had
spent so much time on me, and
I don't believe I really ever did.
Training: Camp Lejeune
ing, but Marines soon saw the ad-
vantage of having their own schools.
It wasn't only that Mount Holyoke
and Hunter Colleges were over-
crowded and st retched beyond
reasonable limits by the number of
women arriving every week. There
was a larger motive for moving
MCWR schools to Camp Lejeune
and, simply, it was the famed Marine
esprit de corps. Camp Lejeune, where
thousands of Marines were prepar-
ing for deployment overseas was the
largest Marine training base on the
East Coast and offered sobering op-
portunities for the women to observe
field exercises and weapons demon-
strations, and to see the faces of the
young men they would free to fight.
Major Hurst, commanding officer
of the Marine Detachment at Mount
Holyoke, understood almost im-
mediately the drawbacks of trying to
indoctrinate and train Marines in
such patently civilian surroundings
as a college campus. Less than a
month after training began he wrote
Brigadier General Waller:
In drawing these up [training
schedules], I found myself wish-
ing more and more that we
could include some weapons
instructions, at least pistol, for
our women . . . . I have found
that the women come into the
Marine Corps expecting to learn
to shoot and I, of course, would
like to see them become the first
women's reserve in the country
to take up the specialty of their
men if Headquarters considers
the idea at all feasible. I
wouldn't have had the nerve to
suggest i t if Mrs. Franklin D.
Rooswelt hadn't asked me on
her visit last week how soon
they were going to learn to
shoot. She expressed surprise at
learning that the women of the
U.S. were not learning as much
about weapons as the women
of other countries . . . .
Nearly a half century later, the re-
tired 23d Commandant of the Ma-
rine Corps, General Wallace M.
Greene, Jr., expressed a like senti-
ment when he wrote in 1990:
I commenced to realize the
meaning of sexism in the armed
The headquarters of the Women's Reserve Schools at Camp Lejeune supervised the
recruit training of more than 18,000 women during the c o me of World War 11.
Photo courtesy of Mary R. Rich
Planners originally thought to use
existing Navy resources and facilities
for all MCWR recruiting and train-










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