(WGHP) — It’s one of the first things Sue Oliver proudly pulls off the shelf in her office.
“This is me. This is when I got the Molly Marine Award,” she said.
“I am the first woman marine officer to receive it.”
Oliver was on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from June of 1969 to June of 1972.
“When I went into the Marine Corps, kind of the motto was free a man to fight, and we were there supporting the troops in Vietnam,” Oliver said.
“When I first went in over in Hawaii, I was the admin officer for the awards and decorations branch. In Hawaii, again during Vietnam, this was part of Fleet Marine Force Pacific, so we could award medals from the Navy Achievement Medal all the way up to Bronze Star.”
Oliver’s military service included experiences that were rare for women at the time.
She says she was the only woman included in a group who went to Okinawa and Iwakuni Japan on an inspection and instruction tour.
It wasn’t long after that when Oliver became the commanding officer of The Woman Marine Company.
Her job was to make sure women were successful at fulfilling their assignments in different roles including in intelligence, supply, and payroll.
“I can honestly say, I had a really good experience, and had I not met my husband, I probably would have stayed in. I got to do things that women don’t get to do,” she said.
Oliver and her husband, also a marine, moved to Buffalo, New York when he retired in 1976.
Oliver went into the United States National Guard and was called into active duty in New York when the prison guards went on strike.
Across her 10 years of service, three in the U.S. Marine Corps, five in the U.S. National Guard, and two in the U.S. Army Reserve, Oliver looks back at her experiences with gratitude.
“It’s an honorable profession. It’s something to be proud of what you’re doing.”
Oliver is involved with local groups and programs that support veterans.
She recently helped lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a Triad Honor Flight.
She says it was a special moment because her late husband is also buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Oliver moved to Greensboro in 2017.