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Retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Margaret Brewer dies
Catholic Herald Staff report
Catholic Herald file photo
Margaret Brewer, who died Jan. 2, was the first female brigadier general in Marine Corps history.

Retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Margaret A. Brewer died Jan. 2 at the age of 82.

Brewer was born in Durand, Mich., in 1930. She attended elementary school in Michigan, but graduated from the Catholic High School of Baltimore. After graduation, she enrolled at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where she earned a bachelor’s degree in geography in 1952. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps that same year.

Brewer rose through the ranks of the Marine Corps, becoming a brigadier general in 1978. She was the first female general officer in Marine Corps history. Her first assignment as a general officer was as director of the division of information for the Marine Corps.

Brewer retired from active duty in 1980. She was awarded two Legion of Merit medals for exceptional meritorious service.

In 1981, she was appointed acting director of volunteers for Arlington diocesan Catholic Charities, beginning a long association with the agency that included serving as chair of the Planning and Development Committee for Catholic Charities.

In 1982, Brewer served as the liaison from Catholic Charities to the first Catholic Charities Ball, a relationship she continued over the years. In 2011, she was awarded the James J. Matthews Legacy Award at the ball.

Brewer was a parishioner of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington and was active in the Brent Society.

Father Robert J. Rippy, rector, said that until recently, Brewer had been active at the Cathedral for years serving as a lector. He got to know her when she served on the Catholic Charities Ball Committee.

“(She was) a very classy lady,” said Father Rippy.

The funeral Mass will be offered Jan. 14 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington.


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In June of 1953, then 2nd Lt. Brewer was leaving her first duty station; MCAS El Toro Ca. I was 420 miles north, in San Francisco and 4 months old. A short 20 years into the future, I too would be leaving my first duty station, El Toro. During the first haft of 1974, then Col. Brewer stayed at the VIP quarters at MCAS El Toro during an inspection tour. We had only 30 women Marines on board, and over 2700 male Marines. It was my duty to serve the future BGEN. I was a young Corporal working as a steward; MOS 3372 until my orders arrived for MSG School. I had served many VIP's and flag officers. It was my honor to serve the future Brigadier General, she was the first lady of women Marines. In that 72 hour visit BGen Brewer treated and spoke to me as if she knew me for a long time. I never forgot her. She was a true professional Marine Officer. I was at MCAS Tustin, Ca. when word arrived that she was appointed to BGEN.

Thank you for your service ma'am, God Bless you and rest in peace.


GySgt Winston Pritchard USMC

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