Joining the Marine Corps and Being a Marine Officer
Major Martrese Thek Ferguson, Promoted to Captain and Meeting Her Future Husband
Family and a Negative Encounter with a Colonel
A Strange Event and Reflecting on Her Service
Lois Meyer was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1920. She went to the Ursuline Academy there. She was listening to the radio one day and heard that the Marines were enlisting women. Meyer entered the very first officer training class for women in Holyoke, Massachusetts. There were about 80 women in the class. They had male drill instructors. Meyer was warned when she joined the Marines to never volunteer. Her first chance at volunteering she took and ended up commanding her own platoon. Meyer had a week or two of actual training. It turned out because of her volunteering, she was commissioned an officer at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to greet incoming women. She also took place in welcoming new women recruits to Parris Island, South Carolina. Her last tour of duty was at Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. She used to watch the funerals from her post. She was a captain by that time. At Camp Lejeune she was in charge of command and drill, disciplining the women, and in charge of regimental parades for the women. At first, Meyer and the women did not fit in. Eventually, once the men realized the women were doing an excellent job, they fit in a little better. The officers had a good relationship with the enlisted women. Meyer started as a second lieutenant and made it all the way to captain. By the time she reached Parris Island she felt accepted. It was only until their job fully took shape did they gain respect. As the men were able to see the work that the women were doing, they gained respect for them.
Lois Meyer's commanding officer in Arlington, Virginia was a member of the original few [Annotator's Note: the first females to enter Marine Corps officer training] who reported for training in Massachusetts. Her name was Major Ferguson [Annotator's Note: Major Martrese Thek Ferguson]. Ferguson called Meyer in for a meeting and, much to Meyer's surprise, went on to pin captains bars on Meyer. Meyer met her husband at Parris Island. He was an assistant to a colonel. He was doing mostly secretarial work when they met. He was biding his time because he knew they were going to be sent over. They met and got to know each other for about two months before he was shipped to Okinawa. Meyer learned a lot. She learned how to treat women, and how not to treat women. She also learned how to treat men and how not to treat men. Meyer's husband was not able to write much from Okinawa. Meyer had about a hundred women under her that she was responsible for. As time went on it became less and less difficult. The men, at first, were not receptive to the women at all. They called them Bams [Annotator's note: a derogatory terms meaning "Broad Assed Marines"]. They would also hoot and holler at the women as they passed by. Some men would not salute them. Meyer would call the non-saluting men back and remind them of her rank and that the women on the island meant business. Meyer and her husband were able to go back and visit Parris Island shortly after the war to visit where they had met. If Meyer could go back and choose differently on her life path she would not change anything. Meyer does not agree with frontline women combat soldiers. She does not agree with men fighting, much less women. Meyer believes that people should learn about World War 2. Especially the part that women contributed to. Meyer is in favor of museums like the World War II Museum [Annotator's Note: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana] because they are beacons of learning and knowledge.
Lois Meyer now lives in Washington. Her sons reminded her that it would be easier for them to take care of her in Washington than in New Orleans. One of Meyer's sons, Eric, graduated from Notre Dame. He currently works on violins and string instruments. Her other son, Dennis, works for the Seattle Art Museum. He is in charge of all the art that comes in and out of the museum for display. Meyer's youngest son, Bruce, is living in Oregon and currently employed. Meyer had one brother in the Navy. His name was Vernon. He helped to maintain airplanes. Meyer was unaware of her brother's entrance into the service until she was already signed up and serving the Marine Corps. He was very proud of the fact that his sister was a Marine. Meyer was in the officers club at Parris Island when a colonel walked up behind her and slapped her on the butt. She turned around and slapped him across the face. Her Marine to be husband turned to her and said, "I think we should leave." After that the colonel never messed with her.
One night, Lois Meyer was coming back on base at Parris Island and was wondering where her husband was. There had been a rape and murder on the island and security was very tight. When she finally got a hold of him to ask where he was, he responded with, "they are holding me on a rape charge." He was, in actuality, being held as a material witness but his sly attempt at humor was enough to make Meyer a little uneasy. Looking back on it now, Meyer laughs about it. Meyer wants people to know that women should not be on the front lines in combat. She believes that women can replace men in any other job in the service except that of a combat soldier. She is very happy with what she did in the Marines.
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