Her road to becoming a Marine in the reserves was not an easy one. For starters, she joined a branch that caters to men. So, enlisting as a woman made her a minority. To top that off, she was a black woman enlisting in a man’s world.
“They told me I was a minority twice,” said Holmes. I was a woman and I was black. I learned men do not like taking orders from women. I quickly learned you cannot go into it saying ‘please.’ You have to speak Marine. You have to take control.”
To make matters even tougher, Holmes enlisted in 1982 in the Marines at the age of 27. She had to get a special wavier from the Marines to enlist because the age limit at the time was 26.
“I woke up (at the age of 27) and decided I wanted to serve,” explained Holmes. “My father served in World War II, I knew either me or my sister had to serve. She said she was not doing it, so I knew I had to.”
Holmes said she selected the Marines because its recruit officer was the only recruiter who was willing to meet with her when she called the day before Mardi Gras. After signing on the dotted lines, the day before leaving for boot camp, she changed her mind that morning. That afternoon, she called the recruiter back and said she was ready to leave.
When she arrived at Paris Island, S.C., like many new recruits, she thought she made the biggest mistake in her life. Two weeks into it, she hated getting yelled at by her drill sergeant. She even told her platoon leader she would like to quit because she and the Marines were not a good fit. Her platoon leader told to go back and begin figuring out how she was going to run faster because she was “too slow.”
She knew then she was not leaving the Marine anytime soon.
Over time, she grew to like the Marines and dealt with its challenges and obstacles.
Today, Holmes works for the Vermilion School Board in the Central Office. She was also the assistant principal at Abbeville High for a couple of years.
Holmes moved to Abbeville because her home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
“The Marines teach you motivation. When you are in the Marines, it’s a man’s world. You are expected to match-up like the men, physically, training...you are expected to perform. It was tough, but I have no regrets.”