JULIA E. HAMBLET, USMC
Colonel Julia E. Hamblet, who served as Director of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve from 1946 to 1948 and as Director of Women Marines from 1953 to 1959, retired from active service, 1 May 1965, with the rank of colonel. She was awarded the Legion of Merit upon retirement for “outstanding service as planner, administrator and leader of Women Marines throughout a distinguished career which encompassed every major assignment in the women’s program…”
She was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, on 12 May 1916. After attending the Hartridge School, Plainfield, New Jersey, she entered Vassar, graduating in 1937 with a B.A. degree. She obtained her Master’s degree in Public Administration at Ohio State University in 1951.
From 1937 until 1943, she served with the U.S. Information Service in Washington, D.C. In April 1943, she entered the Marine Corps and was assigned to the first Marine Corps Women’s Reserve Officer Training Class at Mt. Holyoke, Massachusetts. On completing the course, she was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Women’s Reserve, 4 May 1943. She was then selected as adjutant to Colonel Katherine A. Towle (then a captain), at the Women’s Recruit Training Center at Hunter College in New York.
During subsequent tours of duty, Colonel Hamblet served at Marine bases in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Quantico, Virginia. Before the end of World War II, she was commanding Aviation Women’s Reserve Group I, numbering some 2,600 women, at the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. For her service during this period, she was awarded a Letter of Commendation with Commendation Ribbon.
Colonel Hamblet was released from active duty in July 1946, but after two months was recalled to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a major, to serve as the third Director of the Women’s Reserve, from September 1946 to November 1948—succeeding Colonel Towle.
Following demobilization, the ranks of the Women’s Reserve dwindled to 8 officers and 159 enlisted. With the passage of the Women’s Armed Forces Integration Act in 1948, a transfer of personnel into the regular components of the Marine Corps with the title of Women Marines was effected. Colonel Hamblet thereupon accepted a regular commission as a major in the Women Marines on 4 November 1948. On 24 August 1949, she was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
In 1951, after completing graduate work at Ohio State University, she was assigned to the Staff of the Commander, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, with headquarters in Hawaii. The following year, she was named Officer in Charge of the Women Officers Training Detachment, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico.
On 1 May 1953, she assumed duty as Director of Women Marines, again succeeding Colonel Towle who was retiring. The post carried with it the rank of colonel, and Colonel Hamblet continued to serve in that capacity when her four year tour of duty was extended to 1 March 1959. Later in March, she was assigned duty in Naples, Italy, as Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe.
In May 1962, on her return from Italy, Colonel Hamblet reported to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, as Commanding Officer, Women’s Recruit Training Battalion, and served in this capacity until her retirement three years later.
Colonel Hamblet passed away on 17 April 2017 in Williamsburg, Virginia, at the age of 100. She was laid to rest in Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts.