Women at War

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
Women at War

{World War II}

Submitted: February 04, 2014

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Submitted: February 04, 2014



Chapter 1: 

The tarp tent that housed the U.S American soldiers was cramped and overcrowded, pushing all that resided within down to their knees, the dry grass making deep impressions on their legs. These soldiers were different from the ones that have been fighting for their country  weeks before however, for the fighters were women, with small fragile hands and petite figures. Currently, they all listened attentively to the main woman up front, faces scrunched with determination and pride. For they knew they could face and conquer any challenge that was thrown at them, the reason most had survived up until now.

“Now women,” started General Rosalinda Murry, her face worn with wrinkles and hair pulled back into a strict bun, “I would first like to start off by mentioning all the hard work and dedication you all have put into being here. I’ve never seen so much strength and honor in a group of women and I hope you all are proud of that. I see our nation evolving into something better, where sexism isn't as strong, and equality is present. That is something I can thank Japan for, because if it wasn’t for them attacking Pearl Harbor, Congress would have never authorized women to serve with the U.S Army, Navy, and Coast Guard in 1942 and for the Marines in 1943. I’ve heard through the grapevine that more than 400,000 women are now enrolled in the armed forces and I couldn’t be more overjoyed.” Rosalinda’s face was kept in a stern mold, but her eyes sparkled with gratification for her troop that she trained with her own knowledge and skill. Applause rose throughout the women, some cheering and whooping, others keeping silent with small smiles on their faces.  

General Murry waited until the atmosphere in the tent, that was just big enough to fit the 30 or so women, quieted down. A grim expression suddenly took over her face, making her look hesitant and unsure, which wasn’t like Rosalinda at all. “I was devastated when I was the one to hear this news, and I’m devastated that I have to be the one to deliver this message to you all. Unfortunately,  this group was ordered to be broken up to accommodate for the amount of women helping out to win this war. Tomorrow, you will be shipped off to a position assigned to you, whether it over in Army and Navy Nurse Corps,the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, the SPARs in the Coast Guard, or the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). There you will learn the ways of the ropes, and give your all to whatever position you may be thrown into. As a General, I have never seen a better troop, and I have faith that all of us will transition smoothly in this change.” Soon after delivering the news to the dejected women, then dragged their feet to bed, dreading the switch that tomorrow would bring.


Chapter 2:

As women were lead in different lines for thier respected new position, Carlee Epperson was left feeling distraught and an emotion she hasn’t felt in a while, scared. Walking in a strict line, sandwiched between strangers who were soon going to be her partners in the workforce, she realized that the temporary home feeling her troop had brought Carlee was no more.

She also felt terrified of her new position. She was assigned to be transferred to the Marine Corps Women's Reserve where the division was strictly men until 1942 when the shortages of men soldiers forced Generals to accept women. Carlee would now become a Marinette, a women who trains to become a Marine. A wave of emotion overcame her, as the slow progressing line came to a sudden stop. 

“Alright Ladies. Here you will not be treated like a little fragile animal you think you are! You are training to become a Marine, and as long as that’s your mindset, you may have a slight chance of  survival. My name is Ruth Cheney Streeter and I am the first women to become a director here in the Marines. I am just like you young un’s, a mother of four who’s never held a steady job. But that doesn’t mean I’m weaker than these men here. We must show them that we are just as good  as they’ll ever be. Now soon you will line up again and be issued paper armbands to signify you as trainees, then you will pick up a baggage of luggage, and board the train. Under any circumstance there will not be doubt or hesitation. Leave now if you think you can’t handle it.” Ruth looked around at the women and when no one protested she pushed her nose a little further into the air, and walked off with her back straight like a rod.

When Carlee and the women stepped off the train after being boarded for a few straight hours and followed the leaders back to their new training camp, they were greeted with large, open squad bays or dorming areas, group showers, and male urinals. A training camp obviously not fit for a women. Men lounged around, obviously on some sort of break, and most sneered in the women’s direction, not yet comfortable with the idea that females would be doing the same job as they. Carlee had a second doubt about getting in this situation she was in now, but she remembered her Grandpappy’s words as he whispered in her ear before she left: “Stick to a task until it sticks to you, beginners are many, but finishers are few.” Carlee would be a finisher, and she had no doubt that the result would be anything but that. 

A Lieutenant came around to where Carlee and the women stood and warned them that they would begin MCWR’s school at Camp Lejeune the next day, and they should be well rested and prepared. As a nurse in the Army as her last position, the change from helping the wounded to having a possible chance of being labeled as the wounded was drastic. A friend she made during the process of transition, shared her same fears, but they did their best to comfort each other between the times they were called to finish and complete tasks. Currently she laid on the top of a cheaply made bed bunk, the posts rusting a coppery orange color that squeaked when weight was applied. Carlee heard the snores of her camp mates, one of the main reasons she was still awake, knowing she should be asleep.  Some were at such a loud volume, she wondered if anyone else was affected by it. But soon she found a pattern within the snores, letting it serenade her to sleep, washing away the anxiousness, dread, and excitement the day had brought.


Chapter 3:

In the morning, the men were the first to leave the squadbays as the women changed into light, plain dresses falling to their knees, and slipped on oxfords that everyone seemed to have a pair of. They all ate a quick breakfast of bland oatmeal and sour orange juice, before being herded off to tend to the beginning of Carlee’s training school. She giggled to herself as she thought how her school education was supposed to be over years ago, but Carlee supposed that wasn’t the case.  

Presently, she sat in a hard chair listening to her new ‘teacher’, a woman who spat when she pronounced certain words with her tongue. Della Brown had a heavy southern drawl that made it difficult at time to understand the words she spoke, but soon Carlee learned to adapt to her articulation of words, not letting her accent become an obstacle to her learning. The room was filled with other women that had been attending Camp Lejeune previously, but were housed at different squad bays. Della continued with a lesson that seemed to be the subject of a previous day, discussing Navy and Marine history and touching up on naval law. The women were given paper and ink, expected to take notes, just like the activity Carlee was forced to experience when she was back at school. 

“In the 1890’s, the Marine’s enlisted count almost tripled! Keep in mind, the  8th and 9th Commandants were Charles McCawley and MajGen Charles Heywood. That’s something important you all should remember.  Still even at this time women were not allowed to fight with the men, something I disagree with all my heart. Look at these babies,” Said Della, lifting her arms and flexing her biceps. “These puppies were meant to fight!” She yelled in excitement. A couple of her fellow classmates laughed at the teachers goofiness, however it soon stopped when Della mumbled something that sounded exactly along the lines of: “Except here I am teaching a bunch of imbeciles.” 

At the end of the class, all the newcomers were given a new uniform, a navy, pleated skirt with a cream trim, that reached just below the calves and a matching blazer that buttoned 3 times in the front. Nylons and heeled shoes were also provided for the women, but the highlight was the hat with the signature Marine symbol sitting shiny on the very front. Carlee couldn’t wait to wear the outfit with pride and confidence.


Days turned into weeks of training at Camp Lejeune, where Carlee learned and observed demonstrations in hand-to-hand combat, use of mortars and weapons such as bazookas, flame-throwers, guns of any sort, and landing craft. They also had days of precision drills and physical training, so they’d be prepared for their position in the Marines. When they weren’t at school, they were in the squad bays. Life was rough there, as the men still preferred to call them derogatory names and labels such as the choice term for a female dog, and the n-word. The dorm all in itself made living for a women uncomfortable and awkward, but for Carlee she always tried to face challenges head on with a positive attitude. Fortunately for Carlee, there was a man that lived in her squad bay that was different than the others that made the Marine experience a little easier and more tasteful.  He took a fancy in Carlee when he first saw her give up some of her food to a woman who had lost her ration card. His name she learned was Samson Jephry, and he was a starting Marine as well. He was one of the only men who were open-minded towards the women joining, and wasn’t opposed to the idea of women helping out the men in war and vice versa.  

On that day, exactly 4 weeks after Carlee’s first arrival, word flew around camp that a few chosen soldiers were going to be picked to fight on the Pacific battlegrounds alongside the more skilled and experienced Combatants. Samson and Carlee were excited of the possibility of fighting together in the war. In fact so excited, it overruled most topics in their conversation. The couple only talked in secret though, they both believed it was the safest thing to do to protect both reputations. Only time would tell for Samson and Carlee.


Chapter 4:

As fate would have it, as in a fiction book where the characters always get their way, Sampson and Carlee were of the few people chosen to fight on the Pacific Islands to close in on the enemy, Japan. Currently they resided on the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Soon, this battle would go down in history as one of the most severe Marine combats in U.S history. The island itself was dry with no real source of fresh water, leaving the desolate area a pile of dangerous volcanic rubble.  Carlee, along with fellow Marines, sat in an handmade tent with ropes and tarp. Dry brush surrounded them, and the frigid air nipped at the skin of the fighters. They couldn’t afford to build a fire for the risk of burning everything down was too much of a gamble. 

So far, 180  of the Marines out of the 1,000 that came on the mission died from a variety of jungle diseases and malaria. This included one of Carlee’s closer friends she made on the trip to the Pacific. A resounding number of deaths also occurred from attacks from the Japanese side, where mines were specifically placed in inactive volcanoes to receive maximum american casualties.


In the next morning, Carlee, Samson and other Marines headed out to face the Japanese. They trudged through bottomless mud from that night's rain, and their heavy military boots made a prominent schluck with every step. Roaches and the occasional maggot clung to their dirt covered shoes, and every so often squads of flies bounced of the soldiers helmets with annoying buzzes. It disgusted Carlee so, but she trudged forward without a choice, her heavy gun in hand.

Carlee begun to think about when she would get back to camp and what she would eat. So far the only thing that could be found her her belly was soggy rice (cooked days before) and cold, canned soup.  Maybe they’d make a fresh batch of rice? Or even heat up the soup this time? She was about to tell Samson who walked next to her her thoughts, but a scared cry interrupted her.

“GET DOWN, GET DOWN.” Someone had yelled up front. The well formed group scrambled to protection, diving behind large sand dunes. Soldiers held their guns at ready for any signs of Japanese life, until someone fired their weapon which brought a chain reaction upon them all, till Carlee found herself in a real life battle with ammo floating all about her and soldiers yelling different commands.

Suddenly the ground quaked with such a force that Carlee dropped her gun in the sticky mud and her legs shook from the impact. A mined bomb had gone off not far from where Samson and Carlee stood. He quickly turned to her and told her to always keep her head down behind the dunes because the Japs would yell names, and would shoot you right between the eyes if you lifted your head. He also wished her the best of luck and said an emotional  quick goodbye, that left Carlee with tears in her eyes. This was it, she told herself. This is what she trained and prepared for. This is what may or may not take her own life. She wasn’t ready for this, she wasn’t prepared for this! She definitely did not want to lose her life to this! But it was too late for all her second doubts. And she definitely wasn’t prepared to see what happened next. As she watched Samson’s figure walk away to help out the hand-to-hand combat, a sudden burst of smoke shook the ground of which he stood, and she could do nothing but stare as his body flew up in the sky. At that moment she felt numb. Completely and utterly numb because all she could focus on was his body now falling back to earth and landing with a sickening crunch among the others that got hit with the bomb.  

She heard herself yelling his name and running towards Samson. Carlee felt as if she couldn’t run fast enough, everything around her in a slow blur, the blood rushing through her head drowning out all sound on the battlefield. She fell to her knees once she got to his location at the area of the bombing. Carlee felt her stomach lurch with sickness at the sight of his twisted leg and bashed in head, crimson blood splattered everywhere. Carlee screamed his name aloud, wishing for his eyes to open, for him to smile that quirky smile that she’s grown to love. But his eyes didn’t open, and his mouth didn’t move. He was gone. He no longer would be her companion to make her days interesting and lively. He no longer would make her stomach fill with butterflies when he said her name. Samson Jephry was no more.

Carlee stood quickly, breathing heavily, her head felt like it would burst from the blood flow and oxygen. She stepped over his limp body and attempted to walk to a safe spot among her fellow soldiers. But as she walked, everything slowed down once again. She began to see black spots in her vision, and she felt her legs start to slowly give out. She needed to sit. She needed to stop and rest. But she had no time for that. Continuing to run away from Samson, away from one of her only friends that sustained her life in the Marines, she carelessly bumped into a Japanese soldier who cursed at her in his native tongue. As in slow motion, Carlee saw his finger feel the trigger of the gun, and three bullets spiral out of the deadly weapon. Carlee was shot. A bullet hit her in the thigh. One hit her right shoulder. And one made the deadly shot, and hit her right in the jugular of her neck, her blood spraying all around her. Carlee crumpled to the ground, realizing this was her last moment. Her last moment in war. Her last moment in life.

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