Thursday, November 12, 2015

Veterans Day

My maternal grandmother Helen V. McGuire, nee Kavanaugh, was in the Marines in WWI.  She was among the second group of women to ever be sworn into the Marine Corp.  She and a girl friend had been on the subway in New York City and read a newspaper advertisement from the Marines saying they wanted to recruit women stenographers, but that so far, no women had passed the qualifying stenography exam. My grandmother and her friend looked at each other and said, "We can pass the test!" They were only the second group of women ever to be inducted into the Marine Corps. A group in Washington D.C. had been inducted earlier. The reason the Marine Corp decided to induct women was that all of the clerical and typing work in the corps was being done by male Marines, and they wanted to free as many men as possible for combat roles. My grandmother said that when she reported to her first assignment, as a typist, it was an amusing juxtaposition to see the big, muscular male Marine she was replacing, hunched over, dwarfing a typewriter, typing with two fingers. My grandmother served as a Private from 1918-1922. Three hundred and five women served in the Marine Corps in WWI.

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