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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Sylmar

Professor to Discuss Life as Female Marine in '40s

November 08, 1998|HOLLY EDWARDS

Mission College professor Rachel Leeds will describe her experiences as one of the first group of women to enlist in the U.S. Marines during a Veterans Day observance at the college from 10 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Leeds said she joined the Marines in 1943 when she was a 21-year-old looking for new adventures. World War II was raging overseas, she said, and the Marines began enlisting women to fill domestic positions vacated by men fighting abroad.

During her three-year career, Leeds served as a recruiter for other female officers in Detroit, Chicago and Cincinnati, and was then transferred to Washington, D.C., to decode secret messages. She finished her career as a first lieutenant.

"By joining the Marines, I exchanged my individual freedom for this incredible excitement in my life," she said. "When I put on that uniform, I gained a whole new identity and I felt a commitment to a high, noble purpose at that time, which was defeating Hitler."

The Veterans Day ceremony is free to the public. The college is at 13356 Eldridge Ave. in Sylmar.

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