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Southern Utah Vets Aid, St. George Utah

 

In fulfilling my responsibility as a Fire Team Leader I  had previously called Audre and received a “I don’t know if I can make it…” comment to my invitation to attend the monthly general meeting last month.  Unfortunately, she was a no-show.  I thought it was going to take more than one telephone call to convince her that the Detachment missed her and wanted her to return.  I therefore called Audre, (the oldest member of the Detachment) on the telephone and arrange a personal meeting.  I found a wonderful lady just full of love, compassion and humor.

 

She lives in Washington with her husband Bill and little dog Rasel.  She readily admitted that she married a younger man (Bill is 77).  She stated that both Bill and Rasel keep her young. Audre will be 91 in November.

 

Many of you can remember that in 1943, the country was at war.  Audrie wanted to do her part to free a sailor for active duty and join the Waves.  Call it destiny or call it chance, but the day Audre went to sign up for the Navy was the day the Marines put up their poster to recruit women for the Marine Corps.

 

Audre switched to the Marines and entered into a love affair with the military that burns brightly to this very day.  This love affair has brought adventure, camaraderie, joy, fun and a host of good things in her life. It has also added the words “first” and “only” to her name.

 

When she signed up, Audre was in the first group to enlist in the Women’s Marine Corps.  She was also in the first group to go through boot camp training at Hunter College in New York. 

 

World War II was a heady time in the U.S. Patriotism ran high and military personnel were respected and often feted as celebrirties. 

 

Everyday life in the Marine Corps though could be puzzling and sometimes even downright contradictory.  As an example, Audrie had requested duty as a radio operator; she was assigned to the paymaster department.  She was sent to Washington, D.C. to work  as a typist, but she never saw a typewriter.

 

Not long after that, the Marine Corps thought it would be a good idea to have a women’s band.  Audre having led her high school band as drum major back in Oelwsein, Iowa applied  for the position of drum major.  She got the job and went on the Camp Lejeune, N. C. where she strutted her stuff as drum major for the first and only Women’s Marine Corps Band.

 

One day while rehearsing for the Regimental Review of a graduating class at Camp Lejune, Audre tossed up her baton and when it came down, the baton hit her in the eye leaving a cut that required three stiches to close.  Not only that but she had to wear an eye patch for the Regimental Review.

 

President and Mrs Roosevelt had come down for the Review.  During his inspection of the band, The President stopped in front of Audre and asked, “What does the other one look like, Sergeant?”  Ever on her toes, Audre shot back, “Just like me, Sir.”

 

The President saluted and went back to reviewing the band, Audre considers this encounter the highlight of her two year military career with the U. S. Marine Corps.

 

When Audre came to southern Utah she noticed that St George did not have an active veteran organization.  She got busy, with others, and spear headed the American Legion Post #90.  She has held most, if not all, positions within the Legion.

 

She was extremely happy that the Marine Corps League started Detachment #1270 in 2007.  She quickly became a Charter Member.  While she stills maintains a great respect and fondness for the Detachment she found that for the first few years she was the only woman Marine that came to the meetings.  I informed her that we are fortunate to have

additional Women in our Detachment and we  all would be happy for Audre to return to her first love.  (Naturally, the U. S. Marine Corps).

 

I look forward to our future meetings.

 

I hope that all Fire Team Leaders are experiencing the same great interchange with their Fire Team Members and would love to hear of their experiences.

 Semper Fi

 D’Arcy E. Grisier

Fire Team Leader

 (Note — our local Detachment of the Marine Corps League is divided into traditional “fire teams” like we practiced back when we were all still on active duty.  The teams leaders are responsible for getting the word out to their team members about upcoming events in the Detachment like parades, funeral duty, Marine Corps Ball, etc.)

 

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