Joe and Odessa Marshall both turned 90 years old this last spring and have been married for 66 years. While they both served in the military, they didn’t meet each other until a few years after the end of World War II.
In an interview with the Pocket News, they both shared such love for each other’s stories, often stopping to compliment the other.
“She looked great in a uniform and I got so attracted to her because of her personality. It was so different. I never met anybody like Odessa and I developed such a great respect for her. She’s still my little poochie poo,” Joe Marshall said about his lovely wife when they finally did meet back in the late 1940s.
But rewind. They didn’t meet in the army and much of this story has to do with their time in the army, a time when troops were segregated and Black women were just getting the opportunity to go overseas.
Joe Marshall went into the army in 1942 and was discharged in 1944. He was living in Mississippi at the time and then went to training post in Fort Riley, Kansas in the Calvary, where he got good training from his sergeant. He then went to headquarters in Breakaville, Texas before heading overseas. He was shipped to Africa where he stayed in Morocco and Tunisia. From there, he went to Sicily, then to Italy when the war ended in Japan. He was in the first troops from Europe to go to Japan.
“Mama — She has a totally different story. We didn’t know each other in the military. She was inducted, I think, in the same year,” Joe Marshall said.
Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Odessa joined the army there and was inducted in Fort Leonard Wood.
“I just started school and I wanted to do something different. I was 18. To get in the army I had to put my age up. I had to be 20 to get into the army, but anyway I started in school,” Odessa Marshall recalled.
like what you're reading?