Marian Ditzler-Powers
Marian Ditzler-Powers

Marian Ditzler-Powers

AFRH-G Veteran Highlight – Marian Ditzler-Powers
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian

Marian Ditzler was born in 1922 and raised in the rural area of Sparta, Illinois.  Named after her father, Marion, she was the second born of five children.  Her mother, a seamstress, began teaching her how to sew at the early age of five.  She mastered her lessons very quickly.  When she was older, she used her skills to get a job working at a branch for a high-end St. Louis dress factory.  The dresses they produced sold for $40, very expensive for the 1930-40’s.  She was often praised by her supervisors for how quickly and efficiently she worked.
Around the time WWII was heating up, Marian had been dating a young man who decided to join the Navy.  She intended to marry her boyfriend so she decided to join the WAVES program, at the minimum age of 20, with the intention that she would be stationed wherever he was sent.  Her plan, however, did not work because they went their separate ways.  She never saw him again.
Marian was sent to Cedar Falls, Iowa for boot camp.  She reported after basic training to Lakehurst, New Jersey to become a parachute rigger.  After her training, she received orders for the inspection department at Naval Air Station Alameda in California.  In 1943, she was featured in a Harper’s Bazaar article as one of the women parachute riggers doing her duty for the war effort.  She remained stationed there for over three years before she decided to put in a request for Hawaii, but received orders for Texas instead.  As fate would have it, she would meet her future husband, Jules, there.  The couple fell in love and married.  Around 1946 Marian made the decision to leave the Navy, but not before she and her husband had both risen to the rank of chief, becoming the first two chiefs on active duty in the Navy to be married.

Jules remained in the Navy.  Marian and the couple’s two children followed him wherever he was sent on deployment.  She was able to raise their children in addition to working mostly civil service jobs where they were stationed.  If there were no civil service jobs available, she would use her skills as a seamstress to find work.  Their son, Rick, attended school at The Citadel.  Upon his graduation, he went on to serve in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot for the Army.  Their daughter, Betty, fell in love and married one of her brother’s classmates from The Citadel.  The couple had three children, one of whom carried on the military tradition by serving in the Navy. 

Marian and Jules were happily married for 58 years during part of which they came to retire at the Naval Home in Gulfport back in 1997.  Marian stayed busy by working in the mailroom, editing the Home Port newsletter, painting, and continuing to sew. She lost her beloved husband in 2003 but remained living in the Home until she was displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  She went to live briefly at AFRH-W before moving to Texas to await the opening of the new AFRH-G.  Marian came back for the Home’s reopening and has since been enjoying a relaxing retirement by spending time with friends and attending the various events held at the Home.  It is quite interesting to mention that when Marian was in the Navy, only the male parachute riggers were allowed to make jumps.  Marian made the decision that she wanted to do her own jumps, although these came much later in her life.  She made three jumps at the ages of 80, 83, and 90!