An 89-year-old Rock Hill woman was a female Marine during World War II at a time when men dominated the military.
“I’m glad I served our country,” said Martha Faris, whose platoon was one of the first groups of women to graduate from boot camp at Camp Lejeune, N.C. “We had the best group of women anyone would want.”
Faris, who will turn 90 in December, will help honor other veterans by saying the Pledge of Allegiance during the Honor Flight Tribute Show Nov. 3 at Columbia’s Township Auditorium.
Honor Fight is a national program with local chapters that fly World War II veterans to the nation’s capital for free to see their war’s memorial.
The programs in South Carolina – there are chapters in Columbia, the Upstate, Lowcountry and Pee Dee – have flown about 3,000 vets since they began a few years ago.
The tribute show will honor veterans for their service to the country just before Veterans Day, said Jerry Neely, an Honor Flight volunteer helping organize the show.
“They call the Korean War the forgotten war and, obviously, World War II meant a lot to everybody,” Neely said.
The tribute show will have acts including The Glenn Miller Orchestra, which has been touring since 1956, and The Victory Belles from the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Bill Johnson will bring comedic entertainment by impersonating Bob Hope.
World War II and Korean War veterans and one guest can attend the tribute show free of charge.
Profits from the show will be used for future honor flights.
When she was in the military, Faris was the master sergeant over the commissary at the Cherry Point, N.C., base because the Marine Corps did not send women overseas back then, her son, Buddy Reid, said.
The women would take positions to free up some of the men so they could go overseas, Reid said.
“I was with 30 fine women, and we worked with the men,” Faris said. And the men respected them, she said.
She was the only woman, with 86 men, on her honor flight, which she said was the most wonderful experience since she was in the service.
“I’m proud that I was a Marine,” Faris said.
And Reid is proud of his mother.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot to her, but everybody that serves the country, they make a big contribution,” Reid said. “All of them need to be recognized.”
Faris puts up an American flag at every opportunity, she said.
Anytime troops are returning home or there are any veteran-related events, Faris wants to go, Reid said. “She just supports the veterans every way she can,” he said.
Faris noted the difference between the reality of the military during the World War II era and how it is portrayed on television.
Offensive language was not used, she said.
“I have never heard the profanity and ugly words they use,” Faris said. “We did not use that kind of words.”
Honor Flight Tribute Show
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3
Where: Township Auditorium
Tickets: Adults, $25. Children 12 and under, $12.50. (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com or at the Township Auditorium Box Office. World War II and Korean War veterans and one guest get in free. Call (803) 582-8203 for veteran tickets.