Martin committed three years of her life to the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged as a corporal.
Betty Martin celebrated her 100th birthday. For those who don't know, she was one of the very first women to join the Marine Corps women's reserve after getting to know the news that the Japanese attacked Hawaii during World War II. “I was going to art school in California, and I was living by myself in a little apartment. One Sunday night I was listening to music on the radio and suddenly this voice comes on the radio and said, 'we are interrupting this program to bring you the news, Hawaii has been attacked by the Japanese.’ I turned to ice when I heard that,” Martin said, as reported by KTVB.
Martin was 20 years old when she joined the Marine Corps Women's Reserve. Secretary of the Navy had established it in February 1943. Within a few months, Martin became one of the early joiners of the reserve. "I grew up in the era of movie stars and glamour and excitement, and my life was so boring,” Martin said. She was born on August 20, 1922, and her parents were strict. "My father and my mother were so strict I couldn't get by with anything and I was always resentful,” Martin said. “You know, tell me not to do something and I just had to do it then, and I wanted to see just how much I could get by with because it was ‘don't do this' and ‘nice girls don't do that'.”
But Betty went on to do way more than her parents expected. When World War II broke out mainly men were called out to fight and it gave rise to the Marine Corps. Martin jumped on the bus and went for it. “I just remember that day, I had to go from Burbank to Los Angeles,” Martin said. “I walked in and said, 'is this where you sign up to be a woman marine?’ and he said, 'yes, it is, come on in,’” she said.
Betty Martin joined the Marine Corps on May 16, 1943. They had to bring their own clothes, they were no concept of uniforms. “We had to buy these old lady shoes; we have to have cotton stockings that go all the way up,” Martin said. “We have to wear a girdle and when we go buy them, the officers, they would whack us on the butt to make sure we're wearing them because they didn't want us to be too suggestive,” she added.
Martin thought male officers were insecure of them. “Put women in it, it took away all the glamour of being a marine,” Martin said. Martin was focused on her assignment and wasn't bogged down by these things. On the last training day, she learned her assignment. “On my board, it said aerial photography,” she said. She went to North Carolina, and apart from her training, she practiced photography, mainly on the base.
“We had to take all kinds of pictures, so I got lots of good-looking men in there,” Martin said. Marine Corps meant way more to her. “The part that it instills in you are the drums and the music and the stomping and the marching,” Martin said. “I cry ‘HA,’ I cry every time I hear the march. Out of sentiment, I'm just so proud of em. I went into something I knew nothing about, and I fell in love with it. It is something that will always mean something bigger than I am,” she shared. Martin committed three years of her life to the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged as a corporal. She later went back to art school in California and became an accomplished photographer and a draftsman, and even learned to stain glass.
She currently lives in the city of Caldwell Idaho. She celebrated her 100th birthday in her backyard with family and friends. Some came all the way from Southern California. And what's commendable is that she still lives alone and manages most of her work. Veterans like Betty Martin have made us so proud. Sending love and good wishes your way, Betty! We need a lot more people like her who are ready to serve the country.
Cover Image Source: YouTube/KTVB