Phyllis Lee sat quietly enjoying her dinner and pleasant conversation with her daughter and son-in-law in her room at the E.T. York Care Center. Up until that point, she had spent the 241st anniversary of the founding of the United States (U.S.) Marine Corps visiting with family. Soon she would be joined by Haven Hospice Veteran Volunteer Ted Rogers to celebrate her service in the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve which was created in 1943. It wasn’t until the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, that women were permitted to serve as full members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Lee was born in Illinois but raised in Deland. She joined the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in 1943 and served until the end of World War II in 1945. She drove trucks during her time in the service while stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. “I really loved driving the Jeeps the most,” said Lee. “After I got out of the service, I bought a 1947 Jeep. I rode in it for the Deland Veterans’ Day Parade for many years.”
Lee’s story about her enlistment was unconventional. “I enlisted in the Marines after a girlfriend of mine dared me to,” said Lee who recently celebrated her 93rd birthday. “We both planned on joining. She wasn’t 18 yet, so the recruiters sent her home, but I decided I still wanted to join.”
She had the distinct honor of being a member of the second group of women to join the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Lee has always taken a lot of pride in being a Marine. When someone mentioned her life after the U.S. Marine Corps Lee quipped, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
Lee’s daughter shared several stories about her mother that embodied that statement. One of the stories she shared involved a trip to a museum in Washington, D.C. “She took exception to one of the uniforms in the museum,” said Lee’s daughter Deborah Goforth. “She noticed that one of the women’s World War II uniforms did not have the correct hat, and she pointed it out to the staff. They brought the director of the museum out to speak with her.”
Lee enjoyed sharing sea stories with Haven Hospice Veteran Volunteer Ted Rogers who performed the veteran-to-veteran pinning ceremony. After calling the room to attention, Rogers read the veteran recognition certificate aloud, thanked Lee for her service and finished the ceremony by saluting her. The Haven Hospice Pinning Ceremony for veteran patients includes a veteran pin, a thank you card signed by the staff and a certificate of appreciation from Haven Hospice.