Opha May Johnson (February 13, 1900 – January 1976) was the first woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. She joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1918.
Johnson was a United States Marine in the late 1910s. She became the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps on August 13, 1918, when she joined the Marine Corps Reserve during World War I. Johnson was the first of 305 women to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve that day.
Enlistment came half a century after Susan B. Anthony championed women’s rights and some twenty years after Alice Paulfought for the same cause. Johnson was seen as another combatant in the nations recent women’s rights movement.
When she became a Marine, she was given a category of “F” (for female). In those days women were allowed to enlist but were not allowed to serve in war zones. Opha May Johnson may have worked as a secretary, a cook, or another job which the first women Marines were allowed to perform, but she would not have been a military nurse (the Marine Corps does not employ a medic specialty; that position is carried out by the Navy) while her male counterparts were being sent to fight in France.
It would not be until 1967 that the first female Marine was allowed to serve in a war zone - Barbara Dulinsky.