‘Whenever there is a need we show up:’ WWII bugle player among first women to join US Marine Corps

Sallie Amato enlisted when she heard the call for women

ORLANDO, Fla. – At 97 years old, Sallie Amato can still recall what it was like to be among the first group of women who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II.

“Women have always fought for this country and whenever there is a need we show up,” Amato said. “I wanted to be a part of that. All of us. Every American even the youngsters were a part of the survival of this country.”

The Marine Corps veteran said she enlisted when she was 20 years old after the government saw there was a need for women.

“When I saw that, ‘be a Marine free a Marine to fight,’ I thought: Oh! I would love to be in the military band. So, I’m going to enlist,” Amato said. “I loved the marching bands and the marches especially in the military marches.”

Sallie Amato, now 97, of Orlando, was among the first to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve during World War II. (WKMG 2021)

After she enlisted, Amato enrolled in the field music school where she learned how to play the bugle.

“It was different during that time but because of our National emergency so I always say I helped to win the war with a bugle,” she said.

The Virginia native said she spent 16 months at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina where she memorized several bugle calls.

“I’m so proud that I had that duty because every day I was able to sound the bugle calls,” she said. “I think there might have been 90 bugle calls and there was a book and of course I was told which ones would be for active duty.”

She played reveille and retreat--which indicates those who are out-doors should stop their activities and turn toward the flag.

As she looked back on her three years in the Marines, Amato said it’s also important for women to recognize what they’re capable of.

“Women have always fought along to make our country free to develop America. And when there is a challenge we need to be sure that there is a place for us in that challenge,” she said.

And a good challenge is what she enjoys, she said. Her most recent one was Covid-19. In June of 2020, she contracted the virus that kept her hospitalized for 6 weeks.

“Oh, I’m a survivor... I love challenges and when you asked would I like to do this, I said: ‘Sure! Yes!’ I’m very proud and I’m so proud to be a Marine.”


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