Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. --
The Marine Corps was established Nov. 10, 1775, and was formed by the men of the revolution. The Corps, as well as other military branches are in a new age where both men and women are welcome to join the ranks as officers or as enlisted service members.
To honor women’s contributions to the Marines, the Air Station held a Women’s History Month Observance, Tuesday at the Air Station chapel.
In the early days of the Corps, Lucy Brewer, in secret, became the first woman to serve in the Corps. Disguised as a man, she served in the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Constitution, during the War of 1812.
Opha Mae Johnson was the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve on Aug. 13, 1918. She enlisted along with 304 other females who served in the reserves during World War I, helping their male counterparts win the war.
General Thomas Holcomb, the 17th Commandant of the Marine Corps, later announced the formal creation of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve on Feb. 13, 1943, which allowed women to serve in the Corps.
In 1948, women officially integrated into all United States Armed Forces. Today, regardless of gender, every Marine serves proudly and proficiently in whatever mission the Corps requires.
Less than 100 years after Johnson’s service in the Corps, women fill many key roles as Marines, in both the officer and enlisted ranks.
As the Corps continues to grow, women continue their progress all around the world. The Lionesses, a Marine operational force, is a program compiled of only females, so Iraqi women could be searched as they travel through the cities’ checkpoints, as a way to honor their beliefs.
Connie Hipp, the guest speaker for the Women’s History Month Observance, was also the keynote speaker for the Women’s History event 20 years ago.
“In the forty years since I graduated from high school, I have seen great strides in a women’s ability to participate in the professional world,” Hipp said. “I feel that I have helped pave the way for many of the doors open to women today with my involvement in the community and I like the idea of celebrating the accomplishments of women.”
Hipp is now the executive assistant for the Lowcountry economic network at the Beaufort County’s economic development office. She has also volunteered with many organizations over the years, such as Citizens
Opposed to Domestic Abuse, Child Abuse Prevention Association and volunteer program director for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce’s leadership program.
“My successful career as a female in a traditional (male) position is something I feel is a great achievement, not just for me, but all females in the world,” Hipp said.
Although Women’s History month has come to a close, women will continue to be celebrated for all they have accomplished, according to Hipp.