World War II service
The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was officially established on 13 February 1943. The first director of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was Major Ruth Cheney Streeter from Morristown, New Jersey. By the end of World War II, 85% of all enlisted U.S. Marine Corps personnel assigned to Headquarters were women. The MCWR was often referred to as the "Lady Marines," but with other women's organizations in the U. S. Military being given catchy names such as WACs, WAVES, and WASPs, one female reporter thought of the name "BAM"s for "Beautiful American Marines"; however many male Marines called them the derogatory term "Broad Ass Marines".
However, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Holcomb who authorized the mobilization of women into the Corps on February 13, 1943, was emphatic that the Women Marine reservists were not to be ascribed any sort of nickname. In a March 1944 issue of Life magazine, he announced, "They are Marines. They don't have a nickname and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere at a Marine post. They inherit the traditions of Marines. They are Marines.”
The women were assigned to over 200 different jobs, among them: radio operator, photographer, parachute rigger, driver, aerial gunnery instructor, cook, baker, quartermaster, control tower operator, motion picture operator, auto mechanic, telegraph operator, cryptographer, laundry operator, post exchange manager, stenographer, and agriculturist. They would serve as the trained nucleus for possible mobilization emergencies. The demobilization of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve of 820 officers and 17,640 enlisted was to be completed by 1 September 1946. Of the 20,000 women who had joined the Marine Corps during World War II, only 1,000 remained in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve on 1 July 1946.