JEANETTE I. SUSTAD, USMC
Colonel Jeanette I. Sustad, sixth Director of Women Marines, who retired from active duty on 31 January 1973, died on 5 February 1978. She had received the Legion of Merit from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, in retirement ceremonies held at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., for exceptionally meritorious performance of outstanding service as Director of Women Marines from February 1969 through January 1973.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she moved with her parents at an early age to Tacoma, Washington. She graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, and earned a B.A. degree in sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1943.
Colonel Sustad joined the Marine Corps on 8 May 1943, just three months after the Marine Corps began to accept women for enlistment in the new Women’s Reserve Program. She received officer training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and was commissioned a Reserve second lieutenant on 27 December 1943. Her first assignment was as Field Operations Officer at the Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Facility, Oak Grove, North Carolina. In May 1945, she was assigned as Communications Watch Officer at the Marine Corps Air Station, Oahu, Hawaii, and served in that capacity until she was assigned to inactive duty status in December 1945.
Following demobilization, she spent a year in graduate study at the University of Minnesota and was employed as a Veterans Counselor by the U.S. Employment Services in Tacoma, Washington.
Upon passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948, she accepted a regular commission as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps and reported to Headquarters Marine Corps in December 1948.
Transferred to Parris Island, South Carolina, in January 1949, she served as Executive Officer of the newly-formed Women’s Recruit Training Battalion. She was promoted to captain in August 1949. From May 1950 until July 1950, she served as Executive Officer, Women Officers Training Detachment, Quantico, Virginia.
From that assignment, Captain Sustad became Adjutant of Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, and upon activation of the first post-World War II Women Marine Company at Camp Pendleton, she became its Commanding Officer, serving in this capacity until August 1952.
Captain Sustad was then named Monitor in the Staff Message Control Branch, Headquarters, United States European Command, Frankfurt, Germany. After her promotion to major in July 1953, she became Assistant Head of the Branch. In the spring of 1954, the Headquarters was moved to Paris, France, and Major Sustad continued her assignment there.
Upon her return to the United States in September 1954, she subsequently served as Executive Officer of the Women’s Recruit Training Battalion, Parris Island, followed by tours as Officer in Charge of Procurement Aids Branch, Headquarters, 9th Marine Corps District, Chicago, Illinois; Assistant to the Executive Officer and Plans Officer, G-1 Division, Headquarters Marine Corps; and as Operations Officer of the Marine Corps Educational Center, Quantico. She was promoted to lieutenant colonel in September 1962 while stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps.
LtCol Sustad became the first full-time Deputy Director of Women Marines in July 1965, and served in this capacity until November 1967. From December 1967 to January 1969, she served as Assistant G-1, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. She was promoted to her final rank on 11 April 1968.