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Patriotic Article
Military

By USMC Cpl. J. Nava

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Molly Marine: Embodying Corps Values
(July 5, 2011)

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June 2, 2011 - The original Molly Marine statue was created to inspire women to join the Corps during the 1940s and still stands as an icon of inspiration to female recruits during recruit training.
June 2, 2011 - The original Molly Marine statue was created to inspire women to join the Corps during the 1940s and still stands as an icon of inspiration to female recruits during recruit training.
 Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC (June 30, 2011) - Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is the only place in the world where females are trained to be enlisted U.S. Marines. As such, it is a fitting place to erect a monument in honor of women Marines.

The Molly Marine statue stands at the intersection of Boulevard De France and Santo Domingo Street, adjacent to the Iron Mike Statue. It is a replica of the original statue of Molly located in New Orleans.

A mold was made of the original statue in 1999, and two replicas were cast in bronze. The first replica came here and the second went to Quantico, Va., where female Marine officers are trained. A dedication ceremony for the Parris Island replica was held Oct. 23, 1999.

“A statue is much more than just bronze, it is a permanent reminder of people and events that are worth remembering. In the absence of the statue, people may forget the instance or the people,” said Dave Smoot, Parris Island Museum technician. “The Molly Marine statue
commemorates women Marines and their deeds throughout history.”

In 1943, in the middle of World War II, Marine Technical Sgt. Charles Gresham, a recruiter, needed a way to promote the enlistment of females into the Marine Corps. He decided on a statue of a woman in uniform.

Gresham enlisted the help of French Quarter artist Enrique Alferez to sculpt the statue. Alferez used marble chips and granite instead of the usual bronze to cast the statue due to limitations imposed on materials because of the war. The statue would have to be restored twice during its lifetime due to the construction materials.
The original statue was dedicated Nov. 10, 1943, the year the women's reserve was activated and also the day of the Marine Corps' 168th birthday.

“The Molly Marine statue in New Orleans was the first statue of a woman in uniform to be erected,” said Linda Priest, president of the Women Marines Association in Beaufort, S.C. “So naturally, it brings us a great amount of pride to know that the statue was that of a woman Marine.”

Every Wednesday, on a graduation week, at the base of the Molly Marine statue, the graduating platoons of 4th Recruit Training Battalion form up to honor the Molly Marine of their respective platoon. The recruit selected as Molly Marine is the recruit who best exemplified all the traits that make a Marine during recruit training.

“The members of the platoon pick who they want to receive the Molly Marine Award,” said Staff Sgt. Olivia Soper, a 4th RTBn. drill instructor. “The recipient is usually a recruit who was good at everything during recruit training or provided support for all the other recruits.”

Now, after her almost 12-year tenure on the depot, Parris Island's Molly Marine continues to watch over all the female recruits who step foot on the infamous yellow footprints and those who march away as Marines.

Article and photo by USMC Cpl. J. Nava
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island
Copyright 2011

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