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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Jane Beetham Jones, 2006

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Object ID: WV0356.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Jane Beetham Jones’s service from 1952 to 1980 with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for twenty-eight years and her military and civilian career in public information and journalism.

Summary:

Jones discusses her high education and work at the Detroit News. She then discusses her twenty-year career in the Marine Corps Reserve. Notable topics include why Jones chose the Marine Corps; people’s response to her service; waiting in Detroit until they had enough women for a platoon; training at Camp Lejeune instead of Parris Island during summers; working in the Public Information Office rather than administration; meeting her husband; writing articles for newsletters and newspapers; uniforms; social life and drinking off the base; living in barracks from World War II; food; and being involved in an all-service exercise.

Jones also notes the various places that she was stationed during the course of her career and talks briefly about her duties in the Public Information Office; teaching military history while stationed at Quantico, Virginia; and being sent down to St. Louis without any arrangements having been made.

Jones discusses the perception of women in the military; positions women were limited to while she was in the reserves; difficulties because her husband was also in the reserve; several difficult incidents with Marines who did not care for the women; changes in the Marine Corps during the course of her service; and women in combat positions.

Creator: Jane Caroline Beetham Jones

Biographical Info: Jane Beetham Jones (1927-2011) of Detroit, Michigan, served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1952 to 1980.

Collection: Jane Beetham Jones Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

BC:

[Today is] July 19, 2006. My name is Beth Carmichael, and I'm meeting here in Durham, North Carolina, with Jane Jones to conduct an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Thank you so much for talking with me this afternoon.

JJ:

It's a pleasure.

BC:

We really do appreciate your time and your sharing your stories with us. If you could give me your full name, we'll use that as a test of the microphone and recorder.

JJ:

Well, I go by two full names: Jane Caroline Jones and Jane Beetham Jones.

[Recording paused]

JJ:

I've used the middle name Beetham. I had trouble a long time ago when I first met a stockbroker, and she said she'd be darned if she would sell stock to somebody named Jane Jones. So I had to put something in there to make me different from Jane Doe and everybody else.

BC:

[laughs]

JJ:

But Beetham is my maiden name, and that's the name I was under in the military.

BC:

Let's start by talking a little bit about your background. Can you tell me when and where you were born and a little bit about your family?

JJ:

I was born in Detroit, Michigan. Educated there, raised there, went to school there, worked there, and retired from Detroit, Michigan. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree. It's—I've traveled a bit but not in the military, the military some, but Marine women did not go overseas in those early days. They said, “No way. No way.” I think the first ones went over during—after Korea or Vietnam. I think they went to England. Again, remember, you are doing a fifty-year-old history, and my memory is not what it used to be.

And I've always been in the reserve, and it's interesting because when they designated that women were no longer separate, now integrated, they put me in a platoon in Detroit, and I stayed there. So my reserve time is out of Detroit. And somewhere along the way since I enlisted and retired, the USMCR, which is U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, became USMC-R, retired. I mentioned this to a press agent one time, and he said, “For God's sake, forget about it. Don't try and go back and correct fifty years of records.”

BC:

[laughs]

JJ:

So, if my records all show—I forgot to bring my ID card—my records show that I'm reserve, but my ID card says that I'm retired, which is true, I'm retired.

BC:

Now. Well, before we talk about your military career, can you tell me a little bit about when you were a child—your family, what your parents did, and—

JJ:

Mother was a housewife. Dad was a tool and die salesman all through the Depression, which means we always had a car. In fact, the only car on the block if I remember. A lady next door didn't even have a clock. She used to send me over to my mother to find out what time it was during the day. My father died when he was thirty-six years old, cerebral hemorrhage. My mother raised my brother and I—eleven and seven—all by herself. She had no job. They were going to buy a house, and they took the house away from her. The bank said she wasn't strong enough. Well, she found a job as a clerk at a children's home near our house, and we sustained on that. I remember they had at—The Village, they called it—The Village had a big stock room where people donated clothes for the unfortunate orphans and all of this. Mother was able to get some clothes out of there or else I wouldn't have anything to wear. So my brother and I lived out of that stock room with the boss's permission for many years.

My brother was in the army. He served during Korea, but over on the West Coast in an anti-aircraft, I think it was, battalion, and he came back to Detroit. We lived in Detroit. He came back to Detroit and the military said he was good at engineering. So, he got some tests and he went to Michigan State [University] on GI bill. That's where he met his wife, and they have weathered four girls, and at one time he had four teenagers in his house.

BC:

Oh, boy.

JJ:

And they're celebrating their golden wedding anniversary next month.

BC:

That's wonderful.

JJ:

I'm very proud—happy for them. The usual ups and downs and stuff like this. The only major thing that has ever happened to me in my life health-wise or anything was this medicine I got put me in this wheelchair now, and that was about two years ago.

BC:

Did you go to high school in Detroit?

JJ:

Oh, yeah. Educated, born and raised, educated, trained. Redford High School.

BC:

And when did you graduate?

JJ:

Oh, good grief. I think it was '45, but don't ask me to put my hand on the Bible. It's vaguely in that point.

BC:

That's fine.

JJ:

Then I went to the University of Minnesota for a couple of years.

BC:

And how did you end up in Minnesota?

JJ:

I had a scholarship. There was a scholarship available in Detroit, and I applied, and to the chagrin of my high school principal, I got the scholarship and his favorite girl, who was much smarter than I was, did not. But I had—didn't plead poverty, but I mean we had to show what our finances were, and I guess that's how I got it. But I was a college sophomore then at the second year; and you know college sophomores know everything. You know? I mean you can't tell a sophomore anything. So I quit, but I quit because I was taking journalism. And after the first year, no sooner I came home I got a job at the Detroit News, and I loved it. But I had a two-year scholarship. So, you know, they said, “Okay, we'll just hire you for the summer replacement,” and I went back to school.

And again, as a college sophomore, journalism. I got back the journalism class. I talked rings around them because I knew a metro paper. And the—that was funny. I was teaching the teacher at the University of Minnesota about journalism. But anyway, I came home and I went on full-time at the Detroit News. I wrote in every department: the end book reviews, intramural sports, nothing big. Lots of obit[uarie]s and stuff like that, and they started giving me replacement jobs of various editors. You know, just if you land stuff, but they wouldn't put me on the staff. They said, “We don't want women in our office.” I was there physically—

BC:

Right.

JJ:

“But we don't want women on our staff.” Of course, in that process, the chief photographers—no, it was the outdoor editor's daughter was on the staff as a reporter. One of the photographer's wife was on same staff, and the wife of the city clerk for the City of Detroit was on staff, but they didn't want women—but they had [unclear]. Anyway, that's an old story. Don't get me—that puts my blood pressure up till this day.

BC:

I'm sure it does.

JJ:

What was the next?

BC:

How long did you stay then at the newspaper?

JJ:

[Nineteen] forty-five to fifty-three. I joined the military in '52, and it turns out one of the men on staff, Captain Harold Shackran, was in the Marine reserve. He'd come back from World War II and stayed in the military, and he was also on staff. So they were forming a woman's platoon in Detroit at Brodhead Armory, and he said, “Jane, why don't you try it?” And he talked a couple of us into it, plus one of the copy boys and stuff like this. So I went down, and doggone they took me.

BC:

Now had you thought about the military prior to that?

JJ:

Well, I hadn't realized it until this came up and I was looking for pictures and these clips for you. When I was in high school, I was a member of the Civil Air Patrol [CAP] and I still have that number: 6323415. I was training sergeant and for three years running we won the fancy drill competition—

BC:

You had good practice.

JJ:

That was Michigan Wing 63. And then, after high school—you aren't going to believe this, but I joined the Coast Guard. Now, you can relax. I worked on the—as a waitress on the passenger boats on the Great Lakes, and to work on the Great Lakes you had to have Coast Guard clearance.

BC:

Oh.

JJ:

So, I have a little card that says I'm a member of the Coast Guard. So I have Civil Air Patrol and I had forgotten about the CAP, and then I stunned my friends telling them I was on the Coast Guard now. And then, I don't know. I like the neatness, I guess, the neatness of military. And it's not a democracy. It's a dictatorship. I admit that, and I chaffed a few times on that.

BC:

How did your friends and family react to this?

JJ:

None at all. They said, “That's Jane.”

BC:

Whatever you wanted to do would be okay?

JJ:

Yes, because I was working. See, I was still at the News. It was an overlap, and after a year—to form the platoon they had to bring in X number of women to form this. Well, about that time they decided the women were not going to be a separate unit. They're all Marines. So some—in that picture I showed you, I stayed in the reserve. Two gals went into the regulars, and one I don't know what happened to her. So they just split, and they said no more enlistments, no more people coming in. So I stayed in the reserve, and you're not going to believe this, but in twenty-eight years I never went to boot camp. I visited Parris Island [South Carolina] once, but I never did. I had to take my boot camp—two summers in a row at Camp Lejeune, and people can't believe that.

BC:

Well, how did you get by with that?

JJ:

They weren't picking on women. They couldn't at that point, but the others that stayed with me—there about four of us—and we went down summers for three years and got boot camp, and I sure—I think this is the reason because we heard so many stories. They didn't want us at Parris Island because back then polio was a big scare, and I think there was a polio scare at that time, but I can't, you know, you're digging awfully deep here [laughs]. But, anyway, we didn't go to Parris Island, so we got it at Lejeune. It wasn't as hard as the others. I admit that, but it's just one of those things. Now, you are not going to find anybody else saying that, I can tell you, because those other girls that were with me in that picture are no longer in the military.

BC:

So you joined in Detroit in 1952.

JJ:

Yes.

BC:

And—

JJ:

I was still working at the News.

BC:

So then where did you go first after you joined, if you weren't sent to boot camp?

JJ:

We were held in Detroit because they had to have forty women. We had about twenty-six at that point, and it wasn't that easy. You know, there was a lot of people look down on the military for women. You know, and they would get such a bad rap during World War II. So, you know, it was just—I don't know.

BC:

How did you feel about that? Did you ever feel from anyone that you ran into that that was a problem?

JJ:

You mean that I was in the military and they weren't or something like that?

BC:

No, did you ever—

JJ:

Run into old guard Marines who resented women?

BC:

Well, no, I don't mean within the Marine Corps but outside, the perception being so negative about women in the military. Is that something that you ever thought about or did that have an impact on you?

JJ:

I never had that reaction from anybody, and I don't know whether it's my positive thinking [laughs], but nobody ever got into a debate with me, and people—we had to ask me why I joined the military, and I said, “Well, it's a—I like the way the Marine Corps does things, so I joined.” They're orderly. They're dedicated. They're organized, and that's my life. That's how I got to sergeant.

See, at one point here I met my husband. We were both buck sergeants in the reserve. He came back from World War II, got called up for Korea and then came back in, and he stayed in the reserves. And people say—he was very mild man, a lovely person, one of a kind. And we were promoted—I think we missed the buck sergeant and then we were both staff [sergeant]s. We were just up for gunny [gunnery sergeant] when he died. I lost my train here. I'm trying to think backwards. [pause] Oh, well, forgive me. I lost track trying to read this joint charge.

BC:

You were talking about meeting your husband and you were both—

JJ:

Yes, we were in the reserve at Brodhead Armory in Detroit, and the contract, he was a communications man, and if you know your military history, those are the guys that had to strap the wire reel on their backs and run with the wire. He hopped on every island of the Pacific. He was fantastic. He had three-plus rows of ribbons by the time he was a corporal. Back then the boys didn't get their first stripe until they had overseas duty, when he had several. Every island—duration of six months.

BC:

Wow.

JJ:

Gee, I got off again.

BC:

You met at the armory.

JJ:

Oh, the contract was right next to a little niche they had carved out for me to run the newsletter and accumulate stories for the newsletter for the battalion, and so I got to know him. You know, he was just a nice guy, and one thing led to another, and he asked me for a couple of dates a couple of times. Yes, with all these men around there I didn't want to get to playing favorites. Then he did it. He got two lower-level playoff hockey tickets for the Red Wings and asked me if I wanted to go out. Oh!

BC:

Couldn't resist that?

JJ:

I could not resist. This was—well, you're not from Detroit are you?

BC:

No.

JJ:

No. Well, Red Wing hockey back in those days was rip-snorting—Gordie Howe, Sid Abel, Ted Lindsey—oh, they were the crème de la crème. They were the Michael Jordans—is that the word I want?

BC:

Yes.

JJ:

Michael Jordans of Red Wing hockey, and, oh, we knew all the names of the hockey players and scores. But then he came up with those tickets, and I couldn't resist; and that's when I found out what a nice guy he was. He died—he was forty-five, I think, when he died, forty-six. Three months after he had his annual reserve Marine Corps physical he had a heart attack and dropped dead. I keep losing the men in my life. I've got to stop this.

BC:

And when did you get married?

JJ:

Nineteen sixty, and he died in '72. So, I had a wonderful twelve years, but I swore I wasn't going to let another man in my life because I kept losing the good ones, you know. My dad and then him and what else. So, where are we?

BC:

We got a little bit side-tracked, didn't we? [laughs] That's okay. We were talking about how you never went to traditional boot camp.

JJ:

I'd like to take that out of the story. I don't want to jeopardize my pension. [laughs]

BC:

To Parris Island and said you went to Camp Lejeune.

JJ:

Yes, a couple of summers.

BC:

Where were you in between?

JJ:

Back at the Detroit News. See, I was still a civilian legally. I was signed up for the military, and actually it was an eight-year enlistment. And then the—boy, I'm sorry I didn't make notes during my career. I can't keep track of it. I stayed at the News '52, '53, I finally got through my thick head that they were not going to put me on staff. I was making thirty-five dollars a week, and I couldn't even move out of my mother's house at that point. I couldn't afford it.

So I left the Detroit News and took a full-time job with a company I'd been working with part-time because I couldn't afford the salary at the News, and it was a wine shop—gift and wines, a big Christmas business. It's all big stuff now, but these were pioneers in these fancy baskets, and I worked for there for, oh, four or five years. I can't remember. Oh, boy. I worked Christmas. They were strictly a Christmas business. You know? But by then I had the military and I could get away, you know, and take these summer tours and stuff like that, and I can't—then after that, if I'm still on course here. I left that business and went to—followed an ad in the newspaper. I worked for a glass company. I went into public relations, and I worked for the glass company for vaguely five years. That was a family-owned business, you know, replacement glass for automobiles, and you didn't rise above supervisor because the family held the directors and managers and stuff like that, but it was a pleasant any well, and where did that take me to? I can't remember where I went after that.

BC:

So how did that fit in with your service as a reserve?

JJ:

All of this from the newspaper, to public relations, the journalism, I ended up in public information, where all the other women had to go into administration in the military. So I broke free.

BC:

But in terms of the calendar year, you had your summers at Lejeune and between you're doing these other things.

JJ:

Yes.

BC:

Is that how it worked throughout, that you're just there during the summers and then the rest of the year you had these other opportunities?

JJ:

That's right, so I could work. And then where did I go then? You are going to be confused with this.

BC:

[laughs]

JJ:

Oh, I got to think. The glass company was '60 to '65, and '65 to '70 was Rockwell International [now Rockwell Automation], public relations.

BC:

And that was a public relations firm?

JJ:

Oh, Rockwell International, big automotive, aviation, in fact they're still going strong, defense contractors.

BC:

And what did you do there, public relations?

JJ:

Public relations. I was public relations manager. I had moved up, but again, this all enhanced my military, because as I said, all the women, when they disbanded the platoon, all the women—excuse me—all the women had to go into administration if they stayed, and that's tedious. This is back before faxes, and somebody had a—we would go to camp or something, and then I was admin[istrative] chief. Oh, I used to hate it because the kids would—the young men in the platoon would get into those Jeeps and tear around the base. They would overturn them, and every accident report we had to have original and seven carbon copies.

BC:

[laughs]

JJ:

How's that for something to stay in your mind. Oh, it would just drive me nuts, but I was admin chief at that point. It was my responsibility. So it was before faxes. You know, all of that, but all of this background left me in the PIO [Public Information Office], which made me set apart from the other women who—where else could they go? Women weren't in the fighting or all the things they are now.

BC:

Right.

JJ:

And it was public information and administration at that point. And one of the things that stood out in my mind, too, that helped me get to this first sergeant thing: when I was gunny, somewhere here, we were at one of the summer training units and we had to work out an operations order for four hundred people. You know, they are going to have a beach party, and they were going—not beach party—an invasion, a landing, and all this stuff, you know, to be very military. Get all the troops ready. Well, the night before—well, we got in the night before. The officers, of course, went off to officer's mess, and somehow they got something bad in their food, and they couldn't come to work the next day.

BC:

Oh, no.

JJ:

And this—I was a staff. That's right. I was a staff. This staff sergeant, one other WM [Woman Marine], and the man I knew in a motor pool who could type, we came in and wrote that entire op[erations] order without an officer in the place. I got a plaque. I've got—don't ask me where it is—but I got a plaque because that's unbelievable that we did that whole op ord[er], and it usually took half a dozen officers and a whole fleet of typists, but we did it in, I think, four and a half days.

BC:

And what was a WM?

JJ:

Who was it?

BC:

What does that stand for?

JJ:

A Woman Marine.

BC:

Oh, just Woman Marine, okay. I wasn't sure if it was—

JJ:

But I remember that. They were chagrined to say the least, but it knocked out the entire officer corps. [both laughing] But on the plaque they said that single-handedly pulled out the op ord, and, of course, you know, something like that on an officer's record is ugh, you know. I mean that's terrible.

BC:

So after Camp Lejeune, where did you go?

JJ:

Oh, I think I've been to every base—San Diego, [California]; Norfolk, [Virginia]; Pensacola, [Florida], that was a navy base.

BC:

And did you receive orders every year for that particular—

JJ:

Yes, we got the—

BC:

Summer?

JJ:

Yes, every year we had separate orders.

BC:

And were you still with the same group of people?

JJ:

Yes.

BC:

So you traveled as a platoon?

JJ:

Originally it was the 5th Infantry Battalion, the reserve I was in, and then it was—I guess I don't have it right here. Yes, oh, it isn't on there. Here it is. 5th Infantry Battalion. Is that me? Yes, that is me.

BC:

Is that you?

JJ:

But we were asked to do everything and nothing. 5th Infantry Battalion, and then 1st Battalion 24th Marines, and then the staff group, which is composed of officers and any unlucky enlisted they could find to get in there—and then I was with the Air Wing for my last three years—four years with the Air Reserve out of Selfridge Air Force Base in Michigan. So I had been—it's the same group of people. We kind of moved around except for the last two assignments I got as first and sergeant major, because you could only have one of those in a unit. So everybody steered clear of me. In fact, they asked one man who wanted to be first sergeant, and he got it, and they told him he had to give it back. I'd never heard of that—because they had to keep me there.

This colonel that had to give me my promotion—I hope he doesn't recognize himself. He did everything he could to sabotage me, and he was just furious, and I had some college. My husband had only one year, but I had almost completed college, and the—Oh, I call him the snot nose officer, kept urging me I should be an officer, because I've got college, you know? Well, and I wondered how close it was the fact that my husband was not an officer so they could split us up. He's devious. Because I couldn't associate with him [JJ's husband]; we couldn't go to camp together. I would be in officer country. He couldn't get in there, and when he died—my husband died—they stopped doing that, and it was so obvious. That's the kind of things I ran into, and that still sticks in my throat.

BC:

I'm sure it does. Now where was your husband during this time?

JJ:

In World War II. Well, he said he tried to enlist December, early in December of '41, you know, the big push, and they said you're not tall enough. He was five foot nine and a half, and he said the minute the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor he was tall enough, and he went, and he signed up for the duration and the six months. Island hopped to every island in the Pacific. Oh, you know, the ribbons he had even struck the regulars, inspector instructor staffs and anybody that saw him. I mean those ribbons were unbelievable. And then he came back home. He married. I was his second wife. He married. Then got called up for Korea, and he went off to Korea. At that time he had a youngster, a girl. He came back—he was gone for a year to Korea. [He] came back and his wife was six months pregnant. Needless to say, he divorced. I don't know where the girls are now. I never found out. But that's when he came back from Korea, and then he stayed with the reserves and there I was. And he was communications. He was an amateur ham [radio operator] and all this kind of stuff in his civilian life.

BC:

So you were still in the reserve and he had gone back to being a civilian?

JJ:

No. He went back—came back from Korea. See, World War II and he joined the reserves. They talked him into it. Well, he got called up for Korea. So, he came back and he was still in the reserves.

BC:

Okay.

JJ:

So his was continuous until he died in '72.

BC:

At the same time?

JJ:

Yes.

BC:

So were you stationed together as a reservist—

JJ:

Yes.

BC:

—during those summers?

JJ:

Oh, yes.

BC:

Wherever you were, you were together?

JJ:

What were—one of the first places when we were together was out at—it must have been San Diego, because I remember we went to Disneyland. It was brand new. Or is it Disney World out there?

BC:

I think it's Disneyland.

JJ:

You know, who wants to go there. You know, that's stupid, dumb. The Marines don't want that kind of stuff. One of the friends who—one of the other reserve men who was an architect had gone there earlier, and he finally talked my husband into going, and we went. We were together. We were living off base there, and we went together, and was absolutely stunned. And I can remember that. It was just beautiful. But that's my visit to Disneyland, and that was—don't ask me when that was. Anyway, that was one of the stations I had out there, but his time was continuous.

BC:

Same as yours.

JJ:

See, it took me twenty-eight years to get twenty satisfactory years because it was in pieces.

BC:

Right, right. Now, this group that you were traveling with, the battalion, was it men and women?

JJ:

Oh, yes.

BC:

And did you ever feel—

JJ:

Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. At first it was the women alone, but then they had us split up and integrate, and it was the whole group.

BC:

Did you ever feel any discrimination because you were a woman? How did the men react?

JJ:

[laughs] The old World War II men admitted that when they came back from World War II and found out women had joined the Marine Corps, they signed for immediate reassignment overseas. That was their standard answer. Just some of the old hardliners who were a little too gung ho for my case, but for the most part it was accepted. It was just a few, [like] this colonel that gave me the buzz on the first sergeant and sergeant major. I really didn't, and I didn't have it in civilian life either. In fact, people say I'm—like here we have volunteer jobs and everything else in the retirement community, and things I'm doing. I'm organized, and they say, “Jane you learned that at the Marines,” and I said, “No,” I said, “The Marines do it my way, so I joined them.” I'm [an] organized person.

BC:

Right.

JJ:

So that's how it all came about.

BC:

Now, the people that you worked with when you weren't serving your reserve time, were they surprised to find that you were in the reserves?

JJ:

I guess it just my demeanor. You know, I used to stand straight and tall until I got a wheel chair, but, no, I had very few people look any—I don't know. I don't know what you would call it, but they might have thought it, but they never said it to me, and at that time my eyes were straight and dark brown, and I could go right through you. Dark brown just like yours.

BC:

Well, what was a typical day like when you were—

JJ:

On duty?

BC:

On duty.

JJ:

Oh, God. Oh, I was stationed at Quantico, [Virginia]. I forgot about that. There is another one down there. Oh, Cherry Point and Tustin, California, and El Toro. I forgot about that group. Tustin is where they berth the dirigibles that fly over football games and stuff. Those big air ships. In fact that's—was this the one that was out there? No, it was it. This is where I got used to getting up early. I don't know what the Marines are going to do. Conquer the world at 5:00 in the morning, or 6:00 in the morning? But we had—we got in some calisthenics, but not once the unit was merged as not just women and men but as a unit. [You had to] get up extra early if you didn't get your uniform pressed the night before. See, the first uniforms we had were left over from World War II. They were made out of seersucker. We had to starch them and iron them. Do you know what seersucker is?

BC:

Yes.

JJ:

Well, it's the last thing you want to do with seersucker, and then we went either—like I was teaching or I was in PIO. I'd go over to the public information office. The others, I think, went to admin, and we were assigned a navy woman who was a photographer, cute little thing. It's in one of these books I'll show you. And that's where the women were. They were admin or they were public information or, oh, I taught and did some teaching at Quantico. History.

BC:

What were teaching?

JJ:

Military history. Going over UCMJ, Uniform Code of Military Justice. That's standard. Don't ask me any questions about it now. [laughs]

BC:

Don't worry. [laughs]

JJ:

But these were basic things that every Marine had to have drilled into them. Marine Corps history—and history was my major after I went back to school at U of D [University of Detroit]—but the—trying to think. Yes, that was admin, public information, and instruction. Those are the three big—I've done all three of them, but I found my niche in the public information, and then when I did that operations order with two helpers, the report the colonel sent in was like off the wall. I didn't see it. I didn't get a copy back. You didn't. Tough, you learn. It must have been off the wall, because shortly after that, before the sergeant major came through, I was in danger of being out of the Marines, because I needed to reenlist again, and I didn't want to go back to that idiot colonel that cost me the trouble. So I called WM headquarters in Washington. I said, “Is there any place around here that I can get into a unit to complete my service?” And this woman said, “Well—” it was a senior woman there. She said, “Well, just a minute, and we'll pull up your records.” First thing she said was, “My God, this is off the wall. Who are you?” And I said, “I'm just efficient at what I do.” It wasn't three days later I got a call from a brigadier general in the reserve to come and join the Air Reserve Unit at Selfridge Air Force Base, and you don't think that stuck in his throat, but he was told by Washington to call me and have me in his unit. That had to be the highlight of my life.

BC:

[laughs]

JJ:

So that's how I got out there. Then, I finished my turn at the Air Reserve.

BC:

The Air Reserve. I just wanted to ask you—You mentioned you went to U of D?

JJ:

University of Detroit.

BC:

Detroit, okay, and when—

JJ:

I had the two years at Minnesota and then two years at U of D.

BC:

Oh, I see. Detroit.

JJ:

I'm sorry. I keep popping these names on you.

BC:

That's okay.

JJ:

Okay.

BC:

So as a public information person, what were you doing exactly?

JJ:

Oh, doing [coughing] excuse me. I was writing stories about incoming Marines, Marines that had been on duty and coming back, every summer camp that came into the base, I would write about, you know, stories, send it back to the hometown papers.

BC:

Okay. So, a lot of articles and newspaper pieces—

JJ:

Yes, it was—I wasn't a photographer, but I was a writer, and it was easy to me. I could sit down at a typewriter and knock it right out without even handwriting anything, and they just thought that was fascinating. The—I can't think of—it was writing the stories, and then afterwards—we'd sometimes got out of uniform. There's a slop chute—excuse me, it's a bar on base—and we'd go over there and have a few beers after dinner or something like that, and they had the bowling alley on the base and stuff like that. We seldom went off the base. There was always—we had everything there. [coughing] I'll have to get a drink of water.

BC:

That's fine. Just a minute.

[Recording paused]

JJ:

About San Diego and Pendleton. Oh, there's another place I forgot, Pendleton. A lot of the men would pile into one car and go up to Las Vegas or Reno—what's closest? Reno would be closest—and they would go up there and blow their pay and come back. I was always nervous, because you know they're going to drink. But whenever they had a wreck—many bases did this—they took the car, these totaled cars, and put them in the median of the entrance and exit gates at the base, and, boy, the kids go out and they see that thing. Worked wonders. I don't know who thought up that idea, but it started growing.

BC:

Makes a big difference.

JJ:

It makes an impression.

BC:

And where did you live? Were you in barracks?

JJ:

Oh, yes. Well, until I became an NCO [noncommissioned officer].

BC:

And what was the set up like?

JJ:

Oh, let's see. Which one I'm thinking about? Oh, I had a very nice one that was a converted old house—these were all hangovers—converted old house with high ceilings and that whole place had been subdivided into apartments, not apartments, units for two people. Two in them, and it would hold—the place was all women, and I did a number—I swear a World War I barracks. I don't know how they lasted that long, but everything was World War II. They were still coming out with it. My husband said when he went into service in '71—'41—that they were issued helmets from World War I.

BC:

You're kidding.

JJ:

I mean, you know, it came all so fast they had nothing there.

BC:

Right.

JJ:

And they got K-rations, which are horrible. They called them like K9s for the dogs. In World War II it was C-rats, C-rations, and now they are called Meals Ready to Eat, MREs. They have evolved.

BC:

That sounds a lot better, doesn't it?

JJ:

It sure does.

BC:

Meals ready to eat.

JJ:

The only trouble with the C-rations—and I've had my share of them—they were horribly salty. Almost extremely salty, but, of course, the fighting was always in warm climates, you know.

BC:

That was for preservation.

JJ:

Yes. Well, and also the men needed salt because they're perspiring with all this equipment they're wearing and everything else. But I had trouble getting them down. Uh, [making sound of eating fast]. Makes me do that.

BC:

What was your favorite duty station?

JJ:

Oh, I think Quantico.

BC:

And why is that?

JJ:

I don't know. I guess it's just the level of civility that was there. We—you know, on the bases you're going to have the downers and the outers, you know. They're there because they had to be, or they came in full of ideas and then all popped on them. But Quantico in instruction—and I helped rewrite all the lesson plans when I was there. That was a special duty. I loved it, and the people were intelligent, and there were visitors from all over the country. In fact they had people from overseas that came in for training at Quantico, and the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] came down there. They had a range down there and everything else. It was a smaller group. It was not like being on a big base. It was big, but it was a transient population, and they were just terrific people.

BC:

And how long were you there, or how often, should I say, were you there?

JJ:

I only had one tour.

BC:

One tour.

JJ:

Yes.

BC:

And how long did each tour last? Were they all three months?

JJ:

Who knows? Who knows?

BC:

Or did they vary?

JJ:

I've had some three-month tours. I've had been called up for special exercises for four weeks. Oh, where was that other one? Another place I was. We had an all-service exercise in Virginia. It must have been Norfolk. It was a big operation. I was assistant to the chief of staff to the general—which meant I kept out of the way—and we had [U.S.] Army, [U.S.] Navy, Marines—didn't have the Coast Guard—State Department, Foreign Service people. It was a full bore military all-service exercise. That was fascinating.

BC:

And what did you do? What does that mean: full-service exercise?

JJ:

Oh, it was, um, LOGEX is what is called. LOGEX, L-O-G-E-X [logistics exercise]. All I know is that I kept out of the way, but I was there when they needed me, and I—by that time I was versatile. You know, I could do many of the jobs. Heck, after doing an op order practically by myself, the tours were—I was called on for something executive. All these operations had names, you know. Operation Afghanistan, Operation this, and Operation that.

BC:

Right.

JJ:

And so many different ones I can't remember.

BC:

Was it primarily higher-ranking officers, or were these large bodies of servicemen for these exercises?

JJ:

Most—well, I don't know. Because I didn't get out with the troops at all. Women—even then women weren't out with the troops or anything, but we did the paperwork that was necessary to put this thing—to show that a joint-service exercise would work.

BC:

Would work. I see.

JJ:

And that was interesting. I remember that, but don't ask me the details on it, because it was almost an eighteen- to twenty-hour day. We stood—I mean this—I think it was in preparation if we were invaded. All the services and the intelligence and everybody working together. It was a pretend thing, but I remember long days, long days. And, oh, they even had reporters come in trying to get information and spy on you and stuff like that. It was interesting. It was interesting, but I had forgotten about LOGEX.

And my colonel there—I was his assistant or chief of staff or whatever you want to call it. Colonel is the one that gave me this off-the-wall fitness report that they turned in after the exercise that got me back in the service. He gave me—I never saw it, but it must have been A's or number 1's all the way through. It stunned that woman in Washington.

Oh, yes, I did get a side trip to St. Louis [Missouri] headquarters, headquarters for the Marine Corps. I mean [tapping on table] what did they call it? It's called a Defense Finance and Accounting Service now and it's in Cleveland, but the headquarters where all the records were kept. And it was the 9th District Headquarters for the Marines, I think. Don't quote me on that. And the inspector instructor, who did not like women or Women Marines, said, “Here are your orders for St. Louis, and a voucher for your travel.” No arrangements had been made. I went by myself. He sent me down there. He was going to send me down there with a cold, and I realized that wasn't going to work.

So I called the senior woman on the staff down at headquarters there at the 9th District in St. Louis, senior woman, told her what I'd run into, that I was being sent blind, no allowance, no nothing, and I said, “You've got some place to put me, hide me?” She found a Woman Marine and her husband living on the base. They took me in their spare bedroom and what little allowance I got—I didn't get away pay or duty pay—what little I got I gave to them. Then I said, “That's the best I can do.” But that's one of the treatments I got from the old guard, but that was hard. I remember that. And then I went down and worked in the public information when I was down there.

BC:

And where was this?

JJ:

In St. Louis.

BC:

In St. Louis.

JJ:

That's another place I worked, St. Louis. I worked—I was just doing clerking work down there in their publications office, and one of the writers had interviewed somebody, and he had a hard time getting going on his story, so he would out to get a drink of water; and I sat down at his typewriter and I gave him a lead on his story. And he came back and he said, “Who did this?”

I said, “I did.”

He said, “How did you do that?”

And I said, “I've been working on the Detroit News for years, you know?”

He said, “You're hired,” and I was right on the staff of the monthly magazine before you could turn a head around. So it worked out pretty well. But that colonel that sent me down there, he hated women. Oh, I guess I had had some run-ins with the—I took it, and he was amazed. I had a wonderful time and got a great fitness report. Oh, and that made him madder.

[End Tape 1, Side A—Begin Tape 1, Side B]

BC:

Regular Marines as a reservist?

JJ:

You couldn't tell when you were on base. If somebody was a reserve or a regular, and that's about their assignment, you might know. But remember the uniforms are all the same. And I got out of that habit of being worried about wearing the same dress somebody else had. I wore the same dress that a couple of thousand women had. [laughs] No, you really couldn't tell. I couldn't. Maybe that's just the attitude we all had, you know?

BC:

So even within your assignments, not just running into people on base, but within your assignments you were working with regular Marines?

JJ:

Oh, yes, it was a mix.

BC:

Mix.

JJ:

Especially on that joint service exercise I was telling you about, LOGEX. There were reserves and regulars and the State Department, and you couldn't tell one from another. You could tell the reporters because they had cards in their hats, you know, that kind of jazz. Okay.

BC:

What was your last duty station? Where did you retire?

JJ:

I ended up in the reserves in the air reserve in Selfridge [Air Force] Base. That was the end.

BC:

And that was 1980?

JJ:

Yes. I have to stop and think.

BC:

How did the war in Vietnam affect your work in the Marines?

JJ:

I'm trying to put the dates down.

BC:

You came in as Korea was ending, but then—

JJ:

Yes, I came in '52, and in '53 they signed the armistice.

BC:

Right. But you were really involved with the Marine Corps throughout the entire length of the—

JJ:

No, the Vietnam War—Korean War ended the year after I joined the platoon.

BC:

Right. But in terms of Vietnam, you really saw the beginning, the—

JJ:

Oh, the whole thing.

BC:

—the whole thing. Did that have an impact on your work?

JJ:

No, no, it didn't. No, the only impact [laughs] and this is a funny one, you can end up the whole story with this. About three, four years ago, when all this was starting over in Afghanistan and all that, the military—the Marines I know for sure—sent out notices to all honorably discharged Marines, “Would you like to come back and re-enlist?” I wrote on the bottom, I said, “If you need an over-the-hill sergeant major, blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, one something else or two or three others,” I said, “You are in worse shape than I thought.” Never heard another word. [laughs] I wish I had kept a copy of that. That was my pride and joy. Oh, yeah, ha, ha, ha, forgot that. That's me.

BC:

Another picture of you?

JJ:

Yes.

BC:

That's neat.

JJ:

Okay, this is my junk.

BC:

Well, what did you do after you left the reserve, you were back full-time—

JJ:

That would be '52.

BC:

—as a civilian?

JJ:

No—

BC:

In '80.

JJ:

In '80. Oh, I went to work for the City of Detroit, and I got some veteran's preference, ha, ha. In fact, the boss told me when he hired me, he said he went back and told the staff they had filled that spot, and he went back and said, “She's a Marine veteran,” and, boy, he howled. They expected somebody to come in like this, you know, and here's all 120 pounds of me coming in, but I was out of that. And when I get a little bossy, they always used to remind me, “Come on, Marine, down, down.” You know?

BC:

And what were you doing?

JJ:

Public information.

BC:

Public information?

JJ:

Newspaper work, writing releases for, ah, let's see there about eight or nine departments: building and safety, engineering, health department, and all these other departments. If something great happens, you promote it and send it out, and worked out fine. I worked there until I retired in '92. In '92 I finally told my boss—it turns out the man that lived in another—worked in another department at the city, he knew where I lived, a young Indian, Asian-Indian. And he said, “Do you know if there is any house for sale in your area?” And I'm thinking, “Oh, my God.” I said, “Let me check.” The next day I went in and told my boss, “I'm retiring.” I had worked past retirement. He was hanging on to me, and I said, “I'm retiring.” The next day I went back and talked to the kid, and I said, “My house is for sale.” I didn't even have to hire a broker. It just—smooth as punch. And about that time, between '80 and '90, I had been caring for my mother's older sister who lived in Arlington, Virginia. And I lived in Detroit, and every weekend for eight years I flew to Washington.

BC:

Oh, my goodness.

JJ:

She died two days after I retired. So I packed up all my stuff, put it in storage, went down to her place in Arlington. I was her executor. Spent three months trying to get that straightened out, and then I called up the Forest [at Duke] and said, “I'm ready to come.” She said, “Oh, you have to be scheduled.” I said, “Schedule me. I'm coming down, and I'll park in the street.” So they scheduled me, and I came in here November 7 in '92.

BC:

What was the hardest thing you had to do physically during your time in the reserves?

JJ:

Hold my temper.

BC:

[laughs] And what about emotionally?

JJ:

Well, you can see I've had some run-ins.

BC:

Dealing with your colonel?

JJ:

But my blood pressure wasn't up. My blood pressure showed up the day I took my exit physical for the Marine Corps. I came in on a Saturday morning, and as sergeant major I was in, you know, before the troops, and half of them weren't even awake. And my physical was scheduled—end of service physical—and my scheduled physical was scheduled for about eight o'clock. Oh, of course, by that time I had about seven cups of coffee. I went and took my physical, and I guess it went right off the chart, and he said, “Sergeant Major”—the doctor—“Sergeant Major, why don't you come back tomorrow and don't drink all that coffee first thing.” So I got out of the Marine Corps with my health intact, but that was the first time my blood pressure showed up, and I've had it under control ever since.

BC:

What were the biggest changes that you saw in the Marine Corps over the course of your service?

JJ:

Acceptance of women. There are still old guard, but—and the civilians don't look at you like they did—as they say, they never said anything to me, but you could see, “Oh, the Marines.” You know, “Oh, military.” But they never said anything to me, but I think it is a lot more accepted. There's still going to be your exceptions. You've got your hard-nosed Marines and you've got your stiff-necked lady Marines. You know, sometimes they just don't go together, but I love them all and had no problems with that.

But [pause] biggest change. I'll tell you one thing, the uniforms. Oh, sush. I went through three uniform changes. The seersucker, the nylon, and the wool, and all of them were uncomfortable. That nylon was a one-piece dress. Can you imagine getting women into one-piece with a set-in belt and you have to buckle it?

BC:

Certainly not very flattering.

JJ:

Ooh, boy. I can remember those uniforms. That's the biggest change I've seen in the Marine Corps. [laughs]

BC:

But they didn't necessarily get more comfortable?

JJ:

No, nylon in that heat, down—and most bases are in the South, you know, there's no bases up North.

BC:

Do you consider yourself to be an independent person?

JJ:

Oh, yes, ma'am. Ask any of my friends. [laughs]

BC:

And did the military make you that way?

JJ:

Nope, I joined the military because they do things my way, and I admit it.

BC:

Did you feel that you were a pioneer or a trailblazer when you entered the service, in terms of women being a part of the military?

JJ:

No, the ladies had already done that late in the—'43, '44 when the women were—they took the brunt of it, and that was hard. And I don't know whether I could have handled that, because I would have blown up, because that's just my way; but they were the pioneers. They did the ground break—ice breaking. By the time we came along there were—others were tired of harassing us. They'd say, “Oh, leave those gals alone. Leave those gals.”

BC:

Would you recommend the service to a young woman today?

JJ:

Yes, I definitely would, and it's something to think about. You get enlistment bonuses. You get re-enlisted bonuses. You get your college paid for. I mean, where in the world can you get that? I—if the service [unclear] were like this now and I was eligible, I'd join. I think it's fantastic. And now that I'm an honorably discharged veteran with twenty years of satisfactory service—although it took me twenty-eight years to do it—I have what they call Tricare for Life medical insurance. And before I retired I had Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield, which once I moved down here seemed to be reluctant to pay for anything. I mean, I was forking over right and left. Then Tricare came in a year ago October, or two years ago October. It must be two years. It came in October, and the colonel who was here in the army, he says, “Jane, you better sign up for that. That's great.” I haven't paid a cent in medical bills since I did. I dumped the Blue Cross, and that's a whale of a benefit, and I can't say what that means, especially at my age now.

BC:

Right. How do you feel about women being on the front lines the way they are now, being in more combat positions than previously?

JJ:

That's interesting, because until recently I hadn't had much trouble. In fact, a couple of times I'd like to have taken a rifle and shoot. I was crack. I was a champion, you know, at the rifle range. Spent my time at Camp Perry [Ohio] practicing. Well, let's do it in reverse. The army has now had trouble with the military and enemy women. They're attacking them. They're assaulting them, and I think the women of the front line invite trouble. They cause more trouble for the guys who are fighting, even if they are fighting. They don't have the physical stamina to do it.

I'm all in favor of women piloting airplanes, driving tanks if they want to, firing Howitzers, anything else, but front line—the men are going to try and protect you if you are fighting by their side, and that takes their mind off of the big thing, and there are more men than there are women. And they're going to do that, and they're going to be concerned, and if even if they don't like the dumb woman, they're going to make sure she's safe, and I think that's a hazard to the men. The front line is the only one job. They can fly airplanes. They can go off the carriers, they can do anything, but front line, no. And this is interesting because when that was passed, that DACOWITS [Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services]—have you heard of DACOWITS?

BC:

Yes.

JJ:

One woman here was on DACOWITS.

BC:

Oh, really.

JJ:

Margaret Rose Sanford. Her husband was Senator-Governor [Terry] Sanford here in North Carolina.

BC:

That's great.

JJ:

She was on DACOWITS. I never said another word once I found out [laughs], but it was DACOWITS that said women should be able to fight. And it's a natural human instinct to protect your buddy, and unless you've got at least two women in the unit, that woman is alone. And, no, that's the one job. Of course, if we get mad enough we can all pick up weapons and shoot their heads off. You know, they say the female of the species are the deadliest. [laughs] No, that's the only one I don't agree with DACOWITS, and I don't agree with that situation. When the gal [Jessica Lynch?] got captured, it was a Marine, wasn't it, or was it army? Anyway—

BC:

I think she was army.

JJ:

But they were going nuts trying to get her out of there.

BC:

Right.

JJ:

And it took them away from their duties, and they weren't protecting their own backs. No, I do not think that because women do not have the physical stamina. I mean I might be a little exception because I was pretty healthy and physical. I still am sometimes, but the, no, no. That's the one thing—I don't think I like that change.

BC:

Well, I don't have any more formal questions. Is there anything that you wanted to add that we didn't cover?

JJ:

No, but it's a badge of honor to say I was in the Marine Corps, and it really impresses people. And then I tell them twenty-eight years, and, “Oh,” you know, they draw back, and that's when they say, “Well, now that explains why you are so bossy,” and I said, “It has nothing to do. I joined the Marines because I liked the way they did things.”

BC:

Well, thank you so much for talking with me this afternoon. I really appreciate it.

JJ:

It's a pleasure, Beth.

[End of Interview]