Twenty-six years ago, Ann Brewer tried to talk her daughter, Margaret, into pursuing a career in the business world when she graduated from college. Instead, Mrs. Brewer's only child enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Yesterday, Mrs. Brewer smiled proudly as she and U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Louis H. Wilson pinned silver stars on her daughter's uniform, making Margaret Ann Brewer, 47, the first woman brigadier general in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The first marine officer was commissioned almost 200 years ago," Gen. Wilson told an audience gathered for the promotion ceremony at the Marine Barracks in Southeast Washington.
"The first woman was inducted into the Marines in 1943," he added. "It has taken only 35 years for a woman to be named general. Women in the Marine Corps have indeed come a long way."
Although U.S. laws still prohibit a woman marine from competing for the rank of general with her male counterparts, Gen. Brewer achieved her new promotion through special nomination by President Carter and the consent of the two houses of the Congress.
Gen. Brewer will serve as director of the Marine Corps' Division of Information, a job that requires the rank of brigadier general. If Gen. Brewer is moved to another job before she retires, her rank would revert to that of colonel, according to a Marine Corps spokesman.
The promotion of Gen. Brewer, who will earn $36,000 in her new post, reflects the expanding role of women in the Marine Corps. Women still are not eligible for close combat assignments in infantry, artillery, tank and assault operations and aircraft pilots, however.
Currently there are approximately 4,400 women marines in the Marine Corps, which has a total force of 190,000. Over the next decade, the marines hope to increase the number of women troops to about 10,000 according to a spokesman.
Before the office was disbanded last year, Gen. Brewer was the seventh and final Director of Women Marines. Last July 1, she became the deputy director of the U.S. Marine Corps Information.
"When my daughter told me she wanted to join the Marine Corps, I don't think I was very encouraging. I wanted her to have a business career," said Mrs. Brwer.
"She convinced me that there was a job to be done in the marines and she wanted to be a part of it," added Mrs. Brewer. "As it turned out, her judgement was much better than mine."