MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- -- Denne Howard, a lawyer and resident of Rancho Mirage, Calif., remembers her three years of enlistment that began May of 1953 in the Marine Corps as if it were yesterday that she made the decision to become a "Woman Marine."
Now, 50 years later, Howard volunteers all she can to keep in spirits and camaraderie with her fellow service members as she did while on active duty. The difference today, Howard says, is in her choices in military links.
One option Howard firmly suggests for camaraderie to female active duty members, reservists, retirees and former Marines is the Women Marines Association. With their 74 chapters throughout the United States, women interested in joining can usually find a chapter near by. Unfortunately, Howard explained, the closest WMA for the women of Coachella Valley and the Morongo Basin is the Camp Pendleton chapter.
"By forming a chapter of Women Marines Association in the area women learn from each other," said Howard. "We want to support each other, and besides, women have a lot of fun when they get together."
As a member of the Women Marines Association, ladies take part in training Junior ROTC students, awarding scholarships to Marines, former Marines and their families, are involved in the Marine For Life program and hold regularly scheduled meetings.
Since the association has a large number of retirees and former Marines, and is open to all ages and women of any status in the Marine Corps, rank doesn't apply to this organization.
"The Women Marines Association can be a lot of fun. I think it's pretty neat that I'm supposed to call a three-star general by her first name. It isn't easy," said the former sergeant referring to the president of the WMA, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Carol Mutter, and member of the Camp Pendleton chapter of the WMA.
"You meet interesting people, hear other women's sea stories-because we all have them," said Howard. "There is life after the Marine Corps, and belonging to the WMA can be a big part of it."
There is a meeting Aug. 23 at 11 a.m. to introduce the WMA to the unfamiliar and answer any questions on starting a chapter aboard the Combat Center.
For more information on the WMA, visit http://www.womenmarines.org. For more information on the meeting or on starting the Combat Center chapter of the WMA, contact Public Relations Officer, Jesse Allen at 830-5472.
"All active duty and non-active duty are invited to come and see whether or not they want to join," explained Howard. "You find any woman that's been in the military, and she has a story. I was happy to find the Women Marine's Association."