Sgt Mary Glaudel DeZurik U.S. Marine Corps (1966-1968)
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Sgt Mary Glaudel DeZurik
U.S. Marine Corps
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PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MARINE CORPS?
I had thought about joining the Marine Corps when I was a junior in high school. Like many young adults of my generation I was influenced by President Kennedy to give something back to our country.
During the next year I knew that is what I wanted to do and the Marine Corps was the only service I considered. I believed it to be the best then as I do now. However, my Great Uncle, who had spent 20+ years in the Air Force, tried to talk me into joining the Air Force but my mind was set. There had been no Marines in my family so I was the first one. I have to admit that when my father first heard of my idea he was a bit reluctant and told my mother to “talk her out of it” but my mother said “no, let her go.” I think since I was the youngest of three girls my dad had a hard time seeing me go that far away with a 3 year commitment. He had been in the Signal Corps during WWII and worked under the Army as a civilian repairing electronic equipment. When I came home on my first leave he was very proud but I needed to remind him that he didn’t need to hold my hand crossing the street, after all, I was in uniform.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.
I left for Parris Island, S.C. in Jan 1966 for three months of boot camp and one month of Administration school.
I was then sent to Wash. D.C. to work at MCI (Marine Corps Institute). I loved my job there and had the best CO ever possible (Capt. John J. Sheehan). I was the only Woman Marine to work in the section with three platoons of male Marines.
I have to admit that the first day I reported to work I was extremely nervous. I didn’t know what to expect being in this section with all these male Marines. My job was to receive all the incoming lessons and tests and distribute them to the different areas of the section for review and correction. I also did all the administrative work that needed to be done. It also included receiving calls from the Marine Barracks 8th and I Company office who needed to get in touch with any of the Marines at work. My phone never stopped ringing.
When these Marines weren’t busy doing administrative work with the lesson plans and tests, they were busy doing ceremonial duties at Arlington National Cemetery, 8th and I St. Barracks Summer Evening Parade and the Tuesday night ceremony at the Iwo Jima Memorial. I also volunteered to work at the Friday night parades where I would hand out programs to the spectators.
When a list of volunteers for overseas duty stations was posted in the Company office, I signed the list to volunteer to go to Vietnam. It was a hard decision to make as I did love my current job but I knew this opportunity would only happen once and Vietnam was a place I wanted to see for myself. I wanted to help in the war effort in whatever way I could. I volunteered not knowing exactly where I would be working or what my job would be. Another reason was that there were very few overseas duty stations open to Women Marines at that time and I wanted to see how others lived. To say the least it was quite the learning experience.
With the help of Capt. Sheehan I was picked to go and arrived there in August 1967. I was assigned to US MACV located in Tan Son Nhut in the Adjutant General’s Mail and Distribution Section. From there I spent 1 year in Vietnam working in the Adjutant General’s Mail and distribution Center at US MACV Headquarters in Tan Son Nhut where I made distribution on incoming classified documents throughout the MACV Headquarters.
The monthly average of mail was 500 pieces of incoming registered mail which contained approximately 1600 classified documents of which 600 were classified secret. Those documents required a separate inventory, control and tracking process. These figures were unknown to me and just recently when I ordered a copy of my SRB from the National Personnel Record Center in St. Louis, MO. I did see the recommendation for my Joint Service Commendation Medal. I don’t know who kept track of the incoming mail to arrive at these figures but it does explain why I had so little time off. I also maintained, for six weeks, a Piaster Exchange facility where I converted the MPC (military pay currency) into the Vietnamese piaster.
I was there for the 1968 Tet Offensive and for the first time I had to wear fatigues and combat boots. It took a little getting used to but after a while it was really comfortable.
I had wanted to extend my time there as it was getting near the end of my three year enlistment and had the paperwork authorized and signed when I received news from home that my father was very ill so I had to request the extension voided. This turned out to be the right thing to do as he passed away within 6 weeks of me arriving home.
I had to return to USMC Recruit Depot San Diego and finish off the remaining three months. My job was updating Service Record Books (SRB). At times it was difficult being the only Woman Marine on base with my Vietnam history as I was the first WM back from Vietnam and therefore the only WM on base wearing the Vietnamese Campaign and Service ribbons. It seemed that every time I walked through the front gates I was stopped and my military ID was thoroughly examined. I guess they were just curious. In the end I will always be happy and proud of my three years in the USMC.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I loved my job at MCI and all the Marines I worked with. I can honestly say that at no time did any of them say or do anything I would consider out of line or rude.
I did, however, receive a lot of teasing since I was assumed to be a bit naive, which I was, but tried not to admit it.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?
The morning of the Tet Offensive I was living in the Plaza Hotel on Tran Hung Dao Street in Saigon. We knew something was up as we had walked to the lobby to catch our bus to take us to MACV but all the lights were out and there was no one on the street – not even a dog was in sight. We were told to return to our rooms and wait for information and instructions. We soon found out about the attacks going on in and around Saigon/Cholon and the rest of the country.
The only time my nerves were tested was that first night of Tet when we could hear small arms fire coming from a nearby roof top and once when something exploded that shook our room and sent me flying off the bed. Since we didn’t really have a plan of action we just had to sit tight.
My roommate, Pauline Wilson, another Woman Marine, and I, for days after kept busy by going to the 6th floor of the Plaza and helping make food for any troops coming in off the street. We turned it into a mini mess hall. Once we were able to get back to work our bus now had a military escort on board and our route to MACV varied every day. We were now in fatigues and combat boots everyday.
One of the memories that stand out was while I was in Vietnam. I was sitting by a window on the 6th floor of the hotel (after the Tet Offensive had started) and at night, watching the flares float down from the sky over the city of Saigon. In its own way it was beautiful to watch. Eerie as it cast such a glow.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICE YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
I appreciate the Joint Service Medal for my year in Vietnam since it reflected a year of hard work. But the one award I really am proud of is the Meritorious Mast I received from my tour in Washington DC. It was such a pleasure to work there that it hardly seemed like a job.
I would take leave over the holidays and couldn’t wait to go back. It was always great to go home and relax but I missed the constant activity. It wasn’t the same with my friends as they didn’t particularly care to hear about the military and couldn’t relate to what I was now doing and feeling. At that time the issue of being in Vietnam had not reached its peak yet so my friends had no feeling about it one way or the other.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
The most important person in the service for me was my CO, Capt. John J. Sheehan at MCI. He was my boss and mentor. Every day was a pleasure to come to work.
Work always came first or I would not have been able to stay in the section. He was always fair and impartial and I could count on him telling me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear. When the volunteer list was posted in the Company office he was the one I told first and asked for his recommendation. I appreciated that he had the confidence in me to volunteer for this assignment. He rose to the rank of four-star general.
And then there was Sgt. Woodrow “Woody” Wilson Lynch Jr., my co-worker and best friend at MCI. He was the one I missed the most when I left. I could always count on him being cheerful and looking on the bright side. He rarely had a bad day.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
After the service I returned to Minnesota and got a job at a bank for a couple years until I met my husband, got married and raised four children. I was able to be a stay at home mom until they were all in school. I then started working for the State of Minnesota at the Pollution Control Agency in the Water Quality Division.
The MPCA is an environmental regulatory agency covering not only water but also air, ground water and hazardous waste. My division was concerned with lakes, rivers, streams and the potential threat from discharges from business and communities (farms). I was a Record Manager there so when information was needed, past or present, on permitted sites, I got the call. It was a good job and kept me very busy.
One important concern I bring from my years there is that our world is a gift, given only once, and we need to take care of it. Everyone can do something – many things can be reused or recycled. I retired in 2013 after 25 years.
I now spent my time doing some traveling with my husband; doing grandmotherly activities with my 9 grandchildren; working on my family history and reading whenever I get the chance.
I’ve also been involved with the Women Vietnam Veterans. They are in the process of writing a book about women who served in Vietnam who were not nurses. I was put in charge of tracking down 36 Women Marines and getting their information and a story as related to their service in Vietnam. This endeavor has been quite revealing to me since I was one of the first ones to go to Nam. If you didn’t work at MACV than the other office where other Woman Marines worked was the Marine Corps Personnel Office/NAVFORV. This office supported the Marines who were advisors to the Vietnamese Marines.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I am a member of the Women Marines Association. I’ve only joined recently so haven’t done very much. I do plan to turn over all the research I’ve done on the Women Marines Vietnam Veterans to their historian. I’ve collected much more information for the Women Vietnam Veterans book then they requested as their primary interest is only in the Vietnam experience. I would like our history to have a place and the WMA sounds right to me.
My husband and I are both members of our local VFW Post and partake in activities with them. We’re the only husband and wife team in the post.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?
One of the best things I have brought from the service is that I know I can adjust to anything or any situation. If I find myself in a difficult situation then I know I just need to work at it to make it better. I know I can work on my own with a minimal of supervision.
It is so true that attitude is everything. If you work hard you don’t have to make a lot of noise to get noticed. And if you don’t get noticed you still have the self-satisfaction of knowing you did a good job. I take pride in having good work ethics and hope to influence by example and mentoring.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE MARINE CORPS?
I would suggest to take all the training you can that is available to you. I have no doubt that the responsibilities and training you receive will be beneficial in a civilian job. Employers will know that you’ve understand teamwork and how it is accomplished.
From my own experience I saw people with little confidence, improve 100 percent once they were given a task and with some instruction and mentoring, worked their way through it with a feeling of satisfaction.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
I’ve been with TWS for a few years now and have not yet connected with anyone I served with but I will keep looking. I enjoy reading the profiles and reflections.
I’ve joined one of the forums about Vietnam vets and they have all been very nice. It good to have “brothers” that I never had growing up.