PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Tualatin woman who was part of the first group of women inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII celebrated her 100th birthday on May 29.
To honor the event, five Marines each presented Private First Class Golda Fabian with 20 red roses, 100 roses in all.
Fabian also received a heartfelt letter from the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy E. Black who said he admired her service and character and said she was an inspiration to current and future generations of Marines.
According to the U.S. military, the celebration was held at Fabian’s daughter’s house. Those gathered honored her contribution to the nation and her unwavering dedication to the Marine Corps.
With tears streaming down her face at the event, Fabian spoke of the pride she had for serving her country and how serving in the Marine Corps shaped her into the person she is today.
Other friends and family members who attended the birthday party gave speeches and shared stories and memories from Fabian’s life.
“The event painted a vivid picture of a life lived with purpose and dedication,” the U.S. military wrote about the event.
In 2022, Fabian was a grand marshal of the Portland Veterans Day Parade. She was honored for her work of corresponding with families about battle casualties during WWII.
In 2013, she submitted testimony in support of Oregon Senate Bill 832, a bill that designates the second Sunday of each August as “Spirit of ‘45 Day,” a day to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the WWII generation. The bill was signed by the governor and went into effect in 2014.
In her testimony, Fabian said she served in the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve from March 1944 to November 1945. She worked in the post office directory service at the Marine Corps base in Miramar, near San Diego, Calif. She redirected mail to thousands of Marine airmen in the U.S. and South Pacific and sent letters to next of kin.
In a memoir she included with her testimony, Fabian said she was always competitive and said she chose to join the U.S. Marine Corps because she wanted to enter the branch of the military that was the most difficult to get into.
She said initially, her father didn’t approve of her joining the armed forces, but after she threatened to never speak to him again, he gave his consent.
“Our boot camp training was not nearly as rigorous as that of the women Marines today, but for someone who was never very athletic and had been working at a desk job for two years, it was pretty formidable. The first week I thought I was going to die and the second week I was hoping I would,” she wrote.
Fabian remembers staying busy at the base with the constant flow of mail going in and out. She said it all had to be re-addressed to reach the recipient.
She began in the post office re-addressing mail before she was promoted to “change sheets.” She and five or six other women were responsible for the company rosters that reflected who was killed, missing in action, wounded and sent to a hospital or home, had been transferred to other stations, or was facing punishment.
“Every day we had to face a growing pile of ‘killed in action’ mail when we came to work. Even now, it hurts my heart to talk of it,” she wrote.
She said her tour of duty in the Marines was one of the best times of her life.