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Oral history interview of Gwen Kay Martin. Interview conducted by Karen Kelly at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL on June 15, 2017.


0:01 Introduction; 0:25 Birthplace, childhood, family; 1:00 Family in the military and education before military; 1:20 Age at enlistment, and influences to enlist; 1:50 Choosing the Marine Corps and experience with recruitment; 3:10 Family's reaction to enlistment; 3:25 Boot camp at Parris Island, impact of growing up on a farm; 4:06 Typical day at boot camp at the time uniforms; 5:18 Her drill instructors; 6:04 Getting along with other recruits, recognizing a fellow recruit from church; 6:42 Entering boot camp with very little knowledge of the military; 7:40 Length of training, straight from boot camp to MOS school; 8:16 First assignment at Camp Lejeune, MOS training; 8:25 Electrical equipment specialist training, experience from farm; 9:10 Becoming a drill instructor, reasons why; 9:42 Transition to becoming a drill instructor, how she viewed recruits; 10:26 Camp Pendleton, working with a combat ready storage program; 11:25 Stationed in Okinawa, Japan, not many women there; 11:55 First arriving in Japan, felt like she was on vacation; 12:36 Wanted to travel and see more than her farm town; 13:25 Job in Okinawa; 13:58 Entertainment, sightseeing and excursions organized by military; 14:30 Going to Korea to go shopping; 15:10 Stationed in Korea, Operation Bearhunt; 15:44 Keeping in touch with family through letters and MAR station; 16:14 Traveling independently to Itaewon; 16:52 Being close to the DMZ and hearing propaganda; 17:33 Experience traveling independently as an American; 18:25 Visiting other countries, bringing her son abroad; 19:04 Immersing son in Japanese culture; 20:06 Returning to the U.S.; 21:06 Returning to Pendleton, experiencing more than farm life; 22:16 Experience as a woman in the Marine Corps; 23:07 Knew at enlistment that she would stay in the Marines to retirement; 23:40 Changes in the Marines for women; 25:12 Reactions to beginning of Gulf War; 25:35 Medals received during service; 26:03 Being married to a fellow Marine; 26:51 Having children while in the military; 27:25 Advice for incoming recruits; 27:46 Retirement from the Marines; 28:25 Transition back to civilian life, teaching military history at a high school; 29:55 Moving to Florida to teach at high school; 30:52 Teaching military history as a veteran; 31:43 Conclusion.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Wynne (Ark.)




Black or African American

Home State


War or Conflict

Post Cold-War Era



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Video; MovingImage


Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Marines

Unit of Service

1st Support Battalion; 3rd Maintenance Battalion Los Pulos, 7th Engineer Battalion

Location of Service

Courthouse Bay (N.C.); Camp Lejeune (N.C.); Camp Pendleton (Calif.); Parris Island (S.C.); Camp Hanston; Twentynine Palms (Calif.); Whidbey Island (Wash.)

Highest Rank

First Sergeant; 1stSgt

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury





Meritorious Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal


Was a Drill Instructor on Parris Island; License Officer for Generators; MOS: 1142, 1169, 8511, 9999.


Not applicable

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Kelly, Karen

Interview Date

Summer 6-15-2017

Location of Interview

University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL.


Martin, Gwen K.; Post Cold-War Era -- Personal Narratives; United States. Marines

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES; University of Central Florida


Kelly, Karen

Length of Interview

32 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida




All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type