In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed legislation to allow women to join the U.S. military. Three years later, Mary Reno decided to join the Navy, despite push back from commanding officers.
At 21 years old Reno enlisted in the Navy for a chance to see other places. She learned about the Navy and enlisting from her local recruiter, and since they were in the Navy it wast the “easiest” option.
“I wanted adventure and I was a country girl and I thought it was fun. And it was,” the 93-year-old said. I had no place to go. I think a lot of us joined cause we didnt have a place to go and there were no other job that appealed to us.
“I enjoyed it and if any guy tried to give me a bad time I just gave them a bad time again.
Reno followed her brother’s footsteps when joining the military.
You know the (saying), ‘if you can do it, I can do it better,'” she said. “It wasnt anything he said. It was just what he did. He joined the Marines and he went to work with them, and I thought, ‘OK, if you can do it, I can do it.’
Reno worked in communications for her unit. She said she would receive the codes and make sure they were stored properly, despite protest from her commanding officer.
My commander didnt want women in his unit,” Reno said. “And it was kind of a fight to stay anywhere. And I dared him to give me problems. I always told him if he gives me any problems Id get him on harassment.
The 93-year-old said that if she was able to reenlist today then she would because she really enjoyed her time, but nowadays she spends time with her daughter, her puppy and her favorite caregiver.