Evelyn Moore, a woman they call Sgt. Mom who left the Marine Corps 58 years ago, has received an unexpected pile of mail this Christmas season from Marines across the country who've responded to a post from the Marine Women's Association.
Even at the age of 89, when discussion turns to the Corps, Moore perks up from her bed in a residential nursing home in Massachusetts. She might have left the active duty Corps almost six decades ago, but she lives by the motto: "Once a Marine, always a Marine."
The Marine Women's Association posted an item about Moore on its Facebook page earlier this month. She has since received well over 1,000 cards and letters to her bedside at the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville, Mass., from current and former Marines.
"For those who think the brotherhood of Marines is strong, they have not experienced Marine Corps sisterhood," Women Marines Association spokeswoman Mary Ann Merritt said. "The era of the Marine matters not. All that matters is the fact that they are Marines. We have no age barriers. We are not divided by any generational boundaries. We are simply Marines."
Moore served five years in the Corps stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif. She reached the rank of sergeant while serving in the Supply branch of the Corps during the Korean War.
Moore left the Corps was after she became pregnant with her first child. Back then, the Marine Corps stipulated that women who became pregnant must leave active service.
These days Moore deals with lots of pain as her daughter, Mary Alice, serves as her full time care giver. Despite her short time in the Corps, her identity as a Marine has stayed with her even though her memory is fading.
"Through it all that Marine Corps background comes through," Mary Alice said. "My God, she'll be lying there in pain and if you sing the Marine Corps hymn she'll say 'I was a Marine!' It keeps her going. It's discipline, attitude. She says 'I never give up and I fight."
Retired CWO3 Jack Wing of Orlando, Fla., read the posting and realized Moore was living not far from where he was born in Somerville.
"So I thought I'd drop her a card," he said. “[The Marine Corps] is a pretty tight organization, even once you're out or retired, with everyone calling each other 'brother' and 'sister.'"
Richard LaPointe of Everett, Mass., who served in Vietnam as a Marine, sent a card and a token from his own time in the Corps.
"I also had an old Marine [Eagle, Globe and Anchor] medal my aunt gave me when I was in Vietnam and attached it to the card," he said. The idea that this Marine of an earlier generation had so few people to be with her as Christmas approached moved him.
"And when I read [in the posting] that she perked up whenever somebody came in and spoke about her beloved Marine Corps, I decided to send the card," he said. He also told a cousin, an Erie, Pa., teacher whose father-in-law had been a Marine in the Korean War, about Moore.
"And now she's made it a class project -- the kids are all going to make cards and send them" to Moore, LaPointe said.