View Full Version : Once a Marinette, but always a Marine

Phantom Blooper
06-22-04, 05:52 AM
Once a Marinette, but always a Marine
June 22,2004

The dates and places are important. But it's the personal stories that bring history to life.

So when Linda Cates Lacey sat down to create a book about women Marines, the retired major went to the source itself.

Lacey compiled "We Are Marines!" to tell the story of the female trailblazers in the Corps, from Marinette to Marine. Sprinkled throughout are the dates, the locations and important firsts. But the bulk of the book's 274 pages are memories from the women who answered the country's call.

"There's been a lot of books written about achievements of male Marines, and that's right. That's the way it should be. But we have to remember, there are many talented women too," said Lacey, 60. "These ladies really have neat stories to tell us."

Lacey, a Hubert resident, had considered writing "something for women Marines" for about a year before cammie-clad inspiration struck.

"It was gong to be a book, not about one person but about every woman Marine."

Lacey attended the Cherry Point Salute to Women in November and was enthralled by the stories about recent service in Iraq and Kuwait and Afghanistan.

"Their stories were so interesting," said Lacey of the three active duty Marines who spoke that day. She scrounged up pen and paper and took down in shorthand what the women related. "That's what started all this."

Lacey sent out a call for other stories, moments in time that may not be recorded in any other way, any other place.

And they started trickling in.

"I was in the first class of WRs … "

"During WWII, I was one of eight Women Marines who served as Communication Watch Officers at the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point … "

"My crew chief leans over and explains to the General that he has the privilege of flying with an all-female crew … "

Five months later, she had her book, which is being sold as a fund raiser for the Women Marines Association 2006 national convention; all proceeds from the $25 donation go to the organization. Copies are available at the Marine Corps Association store in the Exchange Annex aboard Camp Lejeune.

The Women Marine Association's first purpose, according to Lacey, is to promote the history and tradition of women Marines.

"We thought," she said, "the book was a good way to do it."

Since there was no central resource for the history of women in the service, Lacey sought assistance from Headquarters Marine Corps and Marine Corps University archives. She traveled to Parris Island, S.C., relied on online sources and conducted interviews.

"We Are Marines!" is split into eight chapters, each devoted to a decade of service. A list of historical references - popular movies, military actions, styles of the day - give context to the stories that follow.

"I can't say that anyone's a favorite because all of them are precious," said Lacey of the memories culled from Marines, friends and family members - including three from World War I.

"World War II really picks up … I have a lot of stories from them," said Lacey.

She also has a lot of stories - 42 so far - not in the book. They will be a part of next and subsequent volumes in a series benefiting WMA. And she's looking for more.

"Each one has a story to tell us. We're not looking for autobiographies. We're just looking for personal stories," said Lacey of the memories that range from three lines to more than three pages.

"It's little stories about little people who made up our Marine Corps," said Mary Sabourin, chairperson for the WMA convention and director of WMA Area 3. "A lot of women have been trailblazers. There's a lot of women out there.

"I think the women in all eras have got something to tell us."

Sabourin, 81, talks about being mistaken for a Girl Scout in her green seersucker uniform as a young enlistee. Later, a fellow traveler under the mistaken impression that Sabourin, in her dress blues, was in a different line of work, asked what time the train left for New York.

Sabourin helped Lacey get the book together and get it published - a task the women undertook themselves to allow as much money as possible to go to the WMA.

"We felt if we wanted something for the fund drive, it would be best to publish it ourselves … So we found out all the problems of publishing," said Sabourin, laughing.

Lacey also found problems with a computer that couldn't handle all she was tasking it with. But, like any other Marines, they adapted and overcame.

"Maybe it's because I was in a long while, but I know what women can do," said Sabourin. "(The Corps) has changed a lot and I'm sure that's what I served 30 years for, for women to get where they are today."

For a copy of the book or to submit a story for the next volume, e-mail robinl@gibralter.net or snail mail PO Box 2196, Swansboro, NC 28584

06-28-04, 09:51 AM
We are Marines
Submitted by: MCAS New River
Story Identification #: 20046289531
Story by Sgt. Christine C. Odom

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. (June 28, 2004) -- We are Marines! by Linda Cates Lacey, a retired Marine Corps major, underlines the significant obstacles women in the Marine Corps have encountered and overcome, and the achievements that have secured their place in the most feared fighting force known to the world.

The book opens with free a man to fight, which was the primary reason Maj. Gen. George Barnett, the 12th Commandant of the Marine Corps, secured permission from the Secretary of the Navy in 1918 to enlist a limited number (305) of women reservists to free men from clerical duties for combat in France.

Little did Barnett know his decision would mark the beginning of a story that would take nearly a century to be told.

Lacey compiled the book from the incredible accounts of female trailblazers in the Corps, initially identified as Marinettes, but who now proclaim the title of Marine.

Each story illustrates the personal experiences women faced as outsiders in a Boys Club. They challenged normalcy and set aside chivalry. When the nation called on them for support, women did what any American would do; they answered.

While reading the quaintly written anecdotes, and as corny as it sounds, I felt a sense of pride, not because Im a female and a Marine, but because I have elected to commit to something many would not have the courage to do.

The commitment to the Corps, while brief, is what the majority of the women speak of most in the book. All loved being a part of this grand organization we know as the Marines, and never regretted enlisting even when they were asked to resign because of marriage or parenthood.

After learning of the constant double standard these Marines had to endure then, I realized that was what they had to bear. No one ever said the Marine Corps would be easy.

Fortunately, their experiences paved the way for women to grow as leaders and advance in their careers.

One particular advancement highlighted in the book was the Women's Armed Services Integration Act passed by Congress in July 1946, which authorized the acceptance of women into the regular component of the Marine Corps and other Armed Services.

Even though women were given this opportunity, they still werent allowed to do many things during their enlistments. Mary Sabourin, a retired sergeant major, mentioned in one of her stories that women werent required to qualify with a rifle or authorized to wear trousers.

Each chapter highlights a particular era since women were first allowed to enlist. Also, the chapters list facts, names and other information about the women in the Marine Corps during each era.

Today, women constitute 6.2 percent of the Corps end strength and are an integral part of the Marine Corps. They are required to meet the same standards as men in most of their annual training, as well as wear the same uniforms.

We are Marines! is a chronologically organized book with insightful stories from the women Marines of our past. Completely inspiring, it assures us that no matter what obstacle we may encounter, it wont break us, but make us stronger.

I hope every female, who is a Marine, reads this book because they are not alone.

Editors note: The book can be obtained by calling Mary Sabourin at (910)346-6553.


"We are Marines!" by Linda Cates Lacey. The 279-page book is comprised of personal accounts of women in the Marine Corps. Photo by: Cover photo