Today in labor  history: First woman joins the Marines

On this day in 1918, the United States Marine Corps enlisted women  for the first time. The first to do so was Opha Mae Johnson.

At the time, World War I was raging. While much of the women’s rights movement opposed the war, most saw allowing women the same right to serve in the military as a step towards complete equality.

Johnson entered the Marine Corps reserve. Though she was first in line, a total of 305 women enlisted that day. None of these women, however, were allowed to serve in a war zone. They only served in non-combat areas as cooks, secretaries or other such jobs.

The struggle for women’s equality in the military continues. It wasn’t until 1967 during the Vietnam atrocities that Barbara Dulinsky became the first female Marine sent to a war zone. She joined the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam in what was then Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City. Now, women are in 93 percent of occupational fields in the Marines, but often face discrimination and difficult conditions.

Photo: Wikipedia


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.