“It was just the thing to do.”
Norma Rambow, now 94, saw no option other than joining the military after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. She said she would have reported for duty the day after the attack on the American naval base, but at 18, she wasn’t old enough.
Almost two years later, when she was eligible, she quit her factory job and joined the Marine Corps in 1943. She spent the next two years working in a mess hall where she cooked for women Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
“I had just been an Indiana farm girl, and to visit with all the women from all over the country, it was special,” she said.
She left the service shortly after the war, in November 1945, and went back to school, but adjusting to life after service was difficult. She couldn’t quite connect with her classmates like she could with women in the Marines. She had lived side by side in barracks with those women; they had all endured the same female sergeant barking at them at boot camp; they leaned on each other when they were homesick. Many of Rambow’s female classmates couldn’t relate.
“The girls were much younger, and they were just ordinary girls. They hadn’t been away from home. We just felt different,” she said. “It was difficult to get back in civilian life, it really was.”
We honor you, Norma Rambow.