I've been communicating with ex-Marine Sgt. Leah Weatherby, who now lives in Salisbury NC after her discharge from the NY State Veterans Hospital in Oxford in November, 2009. Leah Weatherby was a photographer's model and got the job as Miss Crosley through those contacts. She gives her greetings to all CCOC members, and soon her appearance as Miss Crosley will be seen on our Crosley Car Owners Club channel.
Leah never saw herself on that program, so we're sending Leah a memorial DVD edition of that program from almost sixty years ago.
In addition to our Crosley folk, we remember those who have served our country and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we as a nation can live free.
In the early 1950s, there were less than 2,800 women in the United States Marine Corps. One of them was Sgt. Leah Weatherby.
Originally from Cortland, Weatherby turned 18 during World War II.
"I wanted to join the service then," she said, but her brother, a paratrooper, wouldn't hear of it. So, instead, she continued her education and pursued a career in photography.
She even spent some time in front of the camera, becoming something of a pin-up girl for Crosley automobiles. She does have her original photograph of herself next to a Super Sports as "Miss Crosley", wearing a Scotch tartan.
When war broke out in Korea, Leah was working as a photographer at Cornell University. This time, her brother didn't stand in her way, and in 1951, she joined the Marines.
Weatherby's first assignment after she completed boot camp at Parris Island was at Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va. There, the Marine Corps put her photographic skills to use taking pictures of VIPs in Washington, D.C. and at Arlington National Cemetery.
She was also asked to take aerial photographs of the nation's capitol, which she did from a helicopter. There was nothing but a strap across the door to keep her in the aircraft, she explained.
"That took a little getting used to," she said with a laugh.
She was next transferred to Quantico, where she was responsible for taking ID photos for the Officer Candidate School. This was something of a let down for the vibrant young woman.
"It was so boring," she said. So much so, that she requested a transfer back to Henderson Hall. That request was granted and Weatherby returned to Arlington.
As she waited for her new marching orders, she was temporarily assigned to the funeral detail at Arlington National Cemetery. While she only spent a week on that detail, the memory has stuck with her. On the first day, she said, there were eleven funerals, all Marines who had been killed in Korea.
In 1953, one year after the NY auto show where she was Miss Crosley, Weatherby was once again transferred, this time to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. It was there that she met her husband, James Newcomb, who was a musician in the Marine Corps band.
Her hitch was up in 1954, but wasn't done with the military just yet. She'd spend the next 23 years as a Marine Corps wife. During that time, she and her husband moved around the country, spending time at bases in California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Hawaii.
Her favorite was the three years she and her husband spent in Hawaii. "That was heaven," she said.
Weatherby also looks back fondly on her time as a Marine. She enjoyed the camaraderie of the service. Although there were few women in the military at the time, they were treated well, she said.
"Women marines were respected," she explained, more than she believes they are now.