One departed sergeant major made history, another preserved it
By Master Sgt. Janice M. Hagar
| | June 10, 2005
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Two retired sergeants major with significant ties to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego recently died.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Betty Noble, the third woman to reach the rank of sergeant major, died May 25. She enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 1943 and served until November 1945 when women were released from the Corps after World War II.
Noble returned to the Marine Corps in March 1949 when women were authorized to become regular Marines. She served at a variety of duty stations throughout her 24-year career, including two tours of duty at MCRD San Diego. She served as the first sergeant for Women Marine Company during both tours, and she was the administration chief in the Depot adjutant's office. Her final assignment in the Marine Corps was sergeant major of the Women Recruit Training Battalion at MCRD Parris Island, S.C. She was the first woman sergeant major to retire from Parris Island.
Noble served as the parade reviewing officer for graduation here in March 2004.
"She was a great lady," said Barbara McCurtis, depot museum director. "She was very active in the Women Marines Association and was dedicated to preserving the history of women in the Corps. She donated many one-of-a-kind woman Marine uniforms to our museum, and she was also a contributor to the woman Marine collection at the Flying Leatherneck Museum at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. She will be greatly missed."
Another friend to the depot museum was retired Sgt. Maj. Dale Hatten, who died May 29. Hatten enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1955 and retired from his last duty station at Camp Pendleton, Calif. in 1979. He served three tours in Vietnam and he was awarded a Bronze Star medal with Combat V and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with a silver star.
After he retired, Hatten became an active member in the 1st Marine Division Association. He became a docent at the Depot museum and he served on the museum board. Hatten was in charge of finding new acquisitions and was on the education and operations committee.
"Dale was one of our best docents," said McCurtis. "He had a natural curiosity for history and a passion for telling the history of the Corps to recruits and visitors. He and his wife were also in the antique business and the museum benefited from his generosity in the form of donated uniforms, equipment, books and photographs.
"Dale joined the museum team a few years ago, but when he came on board, he jumped in with both feet. If I needed something done, all I needed to do was call Dale and we would be good to go. He will also be greatly missed."