Opha May <I>Jacob</I> Johnson

Opha May Jacob Johnson

Birth
Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana, USA
Death 11 Aug 1955 (aged 77)
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Memorial ID 188960417 · View Source
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Opha May (Jacob) Johnson was the 1st woman to join the US Marine Corps.

She was married Victor Hugo Johnson on Dec 20, 1898. He was the musical director of the Lafayette Square Opera House.

Opha joined the US Marine Corps on Aug 13, 1918 at 39 years old. She was the 1st of 300 women that arrived to sign when the Marine Corps decided to fill the spots left behind by all the men fighting overseas.

According to the Marine Corps History Division, her middle name was usually misspelled & appears in books and on photos as 'Mae.'

She was a graduate of the Shorthand & Typewriting department of Wood’s Commercial College and was working in the Interstate Commerce Commission before joining the Marines. She began clerking at the Marine Corps Headquarters in Arlington. Although clerks, Opha & her fellow female Marines had to train and drill like other Marines. The Drill Sergeants were not happy with having women in the Marines and called them “Marinettes”. The women were not amused by the nickname.

After the end of World War I, Opha was released from the Marines. She joined the 1st American Legion post dedicated to women. For many years, she supported women as their roles became more prominent in the military.

Opha was buried 37 years to the day that she joined the Marine Corps on Aug. 13, 1955.

Military service (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

"Opha Johnson was a United States Marine in the late 1910s. She became the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps on August 13, 1918, when she joined the Marine Corps Reserve during World War I. Johnson was the first of 305 women to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve that day. Enlistment came half a century after Susan B. Anthony championed women's rights and some twenty years after Alice Paul fought for the same cause. Johnson was seen as another combatant in the nations recent women's rights movement. When she became a Marine, she was given a category of "F" (for female). In those days women were allowed to enlist but were not allowed to serve in war zones. Opha May Johnson may have worked as a secretary, a cook, or another job which the first women Marines were allowed to perform, but she would not have been a military nurse (the Marine Corps does not employ a medic specialty; that position is carried out by the Navy) while her male counterparts were being sent to fight in France. It would not be until 1967 that the first female Marine was allowed to serve in a war zone - Barbara Dulinsky."


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  • Created by: Memory Treasurer
  • Added: 18 Apr 2018
  • Find A Grave Memorial 188960417
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Opha May Jacob Johnson (4 May 1878–11 Aug 1955), Find A Grave Memorial no. 188960417, citing Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Memory Treasurer (contributor 47624409) .