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Trailblazing women who served in the Marines honored in Arizona

The Women Marines Association honored the early trailblazers with roses.

PHOENIX — A small ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona Sunday morning honored a heroic group of women who made a big contribution during World War II and inspired others to join the Marines.

February 13, 1943 was the first-time women were able to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

“These role models have taught us discipline, honor, integrity and grit,” said Cheryl Reuss from the podium addressing the small crowd of fellow veterans.

On the 79th anniversary, the AZ-1 Roadrunners Chapter of the Women Marines Association honored those early trailblazers who have passed by reading the names of women buried in the National Memorial Cemetery.

“Honor their efforts and their service to our country,” said Reuss.

That group paved the way for the women of the AZ-1 Roadrunners who all served in the Marines.

“It changed my world," Reuss explained. "It gave me a whole different perspective of what I was capable of.” 

The anniversary was marked with the laying of roses on headstones followed by a salute.

Alyssa Gastelum and her 8-year-old daughter MK come from a long line of family members who served in the military and it was important for them to pay tribute.

“[To] show her it’s just not men who can be strong and serve our country. Women are also as well,” Gastelum explained.

“They represent strength and honor for me,” said MK.

And now 79 years later, these two different generations of women are empowered by these trailblazing Marines.

“It’s an honor for us to be out here and to be able to just to be a part of this little ceremony,” said Gastelum.

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