Ruth Cheney Streeter

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Ruth Cheney Streeter
Ruth Cheney Streeter.jpg
Born(1895-10-02)October 2, 1895
Brookline, Massachusetts
DiedSeptember 30, 1990(1990-09-30) (aged 94)
Morristown, New Jersey
Place of burialPeterborough, New Hampshire
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1943–1945
Commands heldUnited States Marine Corps Women's Reserve
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsLegion of Merit

Ruth Cheney Streeter (October 2, 1895 – September 30, 1990) was the first director of the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve (USMCWR). In 1943, she became the first woman to attain the rank of major in the United States Marine Corps when she was commissioned as a major on January 29, 1943.[1] She retired in 1945 as a lieutenant colonel.

Life and military career[edit]

Born Ruth Cheney on October 2, 1895 in Brookline, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1918.[2]

On June 23, 1917, she married Thomas W. Streeter; they went on to have four children.[3][4] They lived in Morristown, New Jersey, where she was involved in civic affairs, and served as the first woman president of the Morris County, New Jersey Welfare Board.

At the age of 47, Streeter earned her commercial pilot's license, with the intention of joining either the WAVES or the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) as a ferry pilot in the war effort. After being rejected five times by the WASPS on account of her age, however, Streeter chose to give up flying altogether, and instead joined the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve.[5] On January 29, 1943, she was commissioned as a major and appointed director of the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve. She was in office on the official creation date of MCWR on 13 February 1943.[6] She was promoted to lieutenant colonel later that year, and breveted to full colonel in 1944.[1] She resigned her commission on December 6, 1945.[7] During Streeter's tenure, the Women's Reserve grew to a size of 831 officers and 17,714 enlisted.[8]

In 1946, she was awarded the Legion of Merit.[6] The accompanying citation states in part:

Exercising judgment, initiative and ability, Colonel Streeter rendered distinctive service in directing the planning and organization of the Women's Reserve of the Marine Corps and skillfully integrating women into the basic structure of the Corps, carefully selected, trained and properly assigned them as replacements for men in shore establishments.[2]

In addition to the Legion of Merit, Streeter was also awarded the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.[8]

In 1947, she was appointed as a member of the New Jersey Constitutional Convention.[9]

Streeter died of congestive heart failure on September 30, 1990 in Morristown, New Jersey. 1990.[10][11] She is buried in Peterborough, New Hampshire.[12]

See also[edit]

  • Katherine Amelia Towle, 2nd Director of the USMC Women's Reserve (1945–1946) and 1st Director of Women Marines (1948–1953).
  • Margaret A. Brewer, 6th and final Director of Women Marines and first female to reach the rank of general in the Marine Corps.
  • Cheney Award, established by Ruth and her mother to honor her brother who was killed in WWI


  1. ^ a b Fisher, SSgt Cindy (February 12, 2003). "USC Marine History – 60th Birthday of Women in the Corps". Marine Corps News'. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  2. ^ a b "Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter, USMCWR". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved November 18, 2007.
  3. ^ Streeter, Ruth Cheney. "Streeter, Thomas Winthrop". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  4. ^ Carroll, H. Bailey (1943). "Texas Collection". Southwestern Historical Quarterly. Texas State Historical Association. 46 (1). Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  5. ^ Streeter, Ruth Cheney. "Reminiscences of Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter". Retrieved November 3, 2015 – via Schlesinger Library.
  6. ^ a b Pennington, Reina (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots – A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 420–421. ISBN 0-313-32708-4.
  7. ^ "Biographical Sketch — Ruth Streeter". Historic Speedwell. Archived from the original on September 9, 2007. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  8. ^ a b "Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter USMCWR". Marine Corps Legacy Museum. Archived from the original on December 14, 2004. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  9. ^ Ruth Cheney Streeter. New Jersey Women's History. Women's Project of New Jersey, Rutgers University. 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  10. ^ "Ruth Cheney Streeter Weds". New York Times. January 19, 1986. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
  11. ^ "Ruth C. Streeter, 94, Ex-Leader Of Women Reserves in Marines". New York Times. October 2, 1990. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  12. ^ Ware, Susan and Stacy Lorraine Braukman (2004). Notable American Women. Harvard University Press. p. 662. ISBN 978-0-674-01488-6. Retrieved December 20, 2008.

Further reading[edit]

Preceded by
Director of United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve
Succeeded by
Katherine Amelia Towle