Marie Odee Johnson

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Marie Odee Johnson (July 23, 1897 – September 25, 2004) was an American who was one of the last surviving female veterans from the First World War. As a Yeoman (F), Johnson was among the first group of women to serve in the United States Navy in a non-nursing capacity.[1]


Marie Odee Johnson was born in Quincy, Illinois, but her family moved to Dallas, Texas, when she was an infant.[2] She was serving as a secretary with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Dallas when the United States entered World War I.[2] Two of her brothers joined the Armed Forces and her sister was a Red Cross Nurse.[3] The Navy recruiting office was near her office and the men who worked there convinced her that she would have a better job in the Navy.[1] Johnson joined up at age 20.[4] She didn't tell her "single parent father" that she joined at first.[3] However, when she told her father that "he'd have to put a fourth star in the window" he congratulated her.[5]

Johnson was one of 12,000 women (other than nurses) who worked for the Navy "handling clerical duties in the United States to free men for fighting."[5] Johnson was stationed in New York City and Washington, D. C. during the war.[1] She recalls that there were no facilities or barracks for women in the Navy at the time and so she and the other Yeomen were given $90 a month for room and board on top of their $30 a month salary.[1]

She returned to her job with the FBI in Dallas afterwards.[1] In 1926, she married Edward C. Johnson, a World War I veteran of the Army, and they had one daughter, Marilyn, together.[1] Edward Johnson died in 1948.[2] In 1997, she was interviewed for Life Magazine.[5]

Johnson moved into the Transitional Care Unit in the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 1998.[6] She was "the acknowledged 'queen bee' of the veterans' facility.[2] Johnson died in her sleep in at the age of 107. She was the last female World War I Veterans in North Texas when she died.[7]

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  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dallas Woman Proud of Role In Changing Navy". The Victoria Advocate. 27 July 1997. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d Oliver, Myrna (13 October 2004). "Marie Odee Johnson, 107; Veteran Was a WWI 'Yeomanette'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Veteran Celebrates her 107th Birthday". Amarillo Globe News. 24 July 2004. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "Gone West". St. Mihiel Trip-Wire. November 2004. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "M.O. Johnson: Navy Pioneer". Hartford Courant. 13 October 2004. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "World War I Vet Celebrates Her 106th Birthday". Department of Veteran Affair North Texas Health Care System. 13 July 2003. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "One of the Oldest Surviving WW-I Female Veterans Dies in Texas". History. 2004. Retrieved 12 September 2015.