Murray shared three simple words from another female colonel she admired: “Press on regardless.”
She was born on April 2, 1917, and lived to be 100. She was laid to rest among fellow Marines and other American heroes at Arlington National Cemetery on January 23, 2018 with full military honors. She made history as the first female Marine to retire from the Marine Corps, with nearly 20 years of honorable service.
In 1943, Catherine Murray enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves, having been inspired to join after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. It was a pivotal moment in her life.
“I realized our nation was at war, and I asked myself, ‘What can I do?’ I thought about it, and it came to me: I would enlist in the armed forces,” she said in an interview with ABC7News.
At that time, women were not authorized to integrate into active service. She was assigned motor pool and transport duties until 1946. She drove both sedans and five-ton trucks during her service in World War II. Following the war, in 1948, she was authorized to enter active service and was transferred to active duty as one of the first of three female Marines stationed in Hawaii.
She was also stationed in London and was in Quantico, VA., where according to the Marine Corps Base public affairs office, “she was instrumental in the planning and writing many of the military examinations used by female Marines at the time.”
On November 30, 1962, she retired at the rank of Master Sergeant. After retirement from active duty, she stayed in the Marines until she retired for good in 1972, and was the first enlisted female to join the Fleet Marine Reserves.
Documented and videoed by her caretaker Mark Adkins, Murray maintained a YouTube channel where she discussed her life experiences and the inequality she faced as a woman in the armed forces. In one of her videos, when she was asked about her advice for women today, Murray shared three simple words from another female colonel she admired: “Press on regardless.”
Master Sergeant Catherine G. Murray died peacefully at her home in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on December 20, 2017. She is survived by her companion and caretaker of 22 years along with her many dear friends. Her many decorations included the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (six awards), the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
“Catherine was a true angel and a Marine to the very end. She was a life member of the Women Marines Association and participated in events until the end,” Mary Ann Merritt with Women Marines Association told ABC via email.” That is the spirit of the Marine Corps.”
Rest easy. Thank you for your service.
Semper Fi, Master Sergeant!