By Larry Nelson
Veterans History Project 

Veterans History Project: Vickie L. Morlock, U.S. Marine Corps

 


It is a rare thing for a young woman to want to join the Marine Corps. When their advertisements appear on various media, finding a female in the coverage takes some work. But they are there. They trained and worked just as hard, had similar goals, and proudly served. They are “Marines”.

Vickie Morlock lived in Baker City, Oregon. She was eighteen years old. She completed her high school education. She knew college wasn’t going to be an option for her. She wanted to find a good job and get a career going. Hmm… it would be so cool to wear that uniform the Marines were wearing… and the next stop was the recruiting office in Boise, Idaho. She was ready to be a Marine. In a short time, the recruiter made sure she was on the plane headed to Paris Island, South Carolina. She didn’t need to bring a suitcase.

Once the plane landed at nearby Buford, S.C., the Marines had transportation laid on to gather up the new recruits and take them to the base. Many new people arrive at basic training centers at nighttime. One of the first things they see are the yellow painted footprints on the pavement near where their bus stops.

Each new person is invited to find a set of foot prints and stand on them. Further information will follow once that has been completed. Well, um...it isn’t quite that smooth. There are actually people of substance with loud, trained voices, telling each person what to do, and how, and when, and where, and maybe the consequences of not taking action and please, do it right away? For a young lady from the other side of the Country, this was quite different.

The female drill Instructors physically arranged the new female recruits. They had their attention and provided useful information about the next few hours. First, here is where you are going to be living. There were sixty-eight young female recruits. They lined up by two’s. These on the left go here, on the right, go there. The building was a two-story World War II barracks. The Drill Instructors would be housed on the upper level.

The recruits were lined up in the room. They were given the command “at ease”. Now was the time the new people were going to be introduced to the USMC. The Drill Instructors were fully depicting the next few weeks of their lives. The Drill Instructor’s uniforms were perfect; they used loud clear speech; their demeanor was very professional. Vickie knew she was in the presence of a Marine. It was also her nineteenth birthday and she wondered what the heck she had gotten herself into.


The rigors of basic training went well for Vickie. She wasn’t an accomplished runner and/or athlete before, but she met the requirements. They issued the clothing that would be needed for female recruits. She obtained the measured haircut.

When they marched to the rifle range, there was a bit of a problem. When it was her turn to hold, aim and shoot the M-16A2 rifle, the rifle range trainer noticed there was a problem. Vickie told the Sergeant that she was left handed. “Huh? Just go ahead and shoot like you were right handed”. The training concept fell apart because she had neither experience with weapons nor with being right handed. Finally, they found a way for her to be successful. This was a big of step for the trainers as for the trainees, clearly.

About her trainers, Vickie remembered Staff Sergeant Walton. She was a tough, hard-to-look at female Marine Drill Instructor. She was very stern, very demanding, and a relentless trainer. She was also the one the trainees went to when they were troubled. The people-in-training learned that their boots had to be spit-shined daily. Their clothes had to be ironed daily. Their lipstick had to match the red banding on their caps. They were trained to be professional in all aspects of their new lives. Their work had to be done to the high standards of the Corps, no excuses. Where they went, they were required to look like a Marine and act like a lady.

She graduated basic training and was allowed a furlough to return home to Oregon for a few days. She had sudden health issues there. Her appendix nearly burst and she went in for emergency surgery. Right away, the recruiter was notified, who then relayed the information up the chain of command and Vickie was allowed a little time to recuperate.

In a few weeks, she reported for duty at her new training station in Twenty-nine Palms, California. Her aptitude tests indicated that she was a good candidate for radio operator work. The Corps called them “battery operated grunts”. The school provided her a Military Occupational Specialty. The received an addition to her vocabulary and learned the mechanics of working on and around radios. She graduated and actually was given the option between an assignment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and Camp Foster in Okinawa. She opted for Okinawa.

Once at Camp Foster, her living area was in a 2-story barracks. There were two Marines per room. Her work there in the communications field was good. There is a truism in every branch of service –and every business for that matter – when those in charge identify someone who can do lots of work and can do it well, grab them up and use them as much as possible. Vickie was one of those who could do many things well. She became an administrative specialist, taking care of running the “office” for the group. So, all filing, correspondence, payroll, tracking leaves, personnel assignments, issuing orders, etc, became her work. She excelled.

In about eighteen months, her time at Okinawa was due to end as was her career in the USMC. She returned to Camp Pendleton, California, and began the out-processing when the time came. The time away from family and friends and the less than easy life needed to change. She returned home and learned that part of her heart was still with the Marine Corps.

Vickie called the right people and humbly asked if she could return? She had been away less than thirty days. Here is a Marine who did her work very well, who left, and now wants back? In no time, Vickie was back at Camp Pendleton, in uniform!

She served another year and left for the final time. She made her way to western Nebraska to be with family. She was married to a Marine who was deployed a lot. She continues to stay in touch with many of the friends she made in her service to America.

Vickie used the G.I. Bill to further her education. She continues to strive for a college degree today. She will earn one in Library Science. Although she doesn’t march the staff around, she works at the Sidney Public Library.

Corporal Vickie Morlock, good job! Thank you for your service!

Editor’s note: This story is one of many American veteran stories published throughout the year. The writer, who is from Potter and who now lives in Sidney, is conducting the interviews as part of the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

 

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