WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Peggy Urban has spent much of her life in Wichita, where she raised six children. All six graduated from Wichita North High School. Before that, she was a secretary in the Marine Corps.
Urban was an 18-year-old senior in high school when she decided she wanted to be a secretary. She wanted to join the Navy but was turned away because she wasn’t old enough. So, the Navy recruiter took her across the hallway, and she joined the Marine Corps.
“Put me on the train to Beaufort, South Carolina. That’s where Parris Island is. We got off the train at Beaufort, and I had to go to the restroom and had the shock of my life,” said Urban. “When I grew up, this Pennsylvania girl went to school with some Black kids. They had drinking fountains for Black. Restrooms for Black. And restrooms for white and drinking fountains for white. It was just very much a shock to my system. It was something I had never seen before.”
In 1951, this northern farm girl was introduced to segregation and the Marine Corps.
“Went through basic training at Parris Island. Then, after that, after basic training, we were shipped out in different directions. My dream was maybe to see California. Well, I didn’t see California until I was over 50. I ended up in North Carolina. Camp Lejeune, North Carolina,” said Urban.
Urban worked in the supply school battalion in the supply school office as the secretary to the lieutenant in charge of supplying battalions serving in Korea.
“Supply school battalion had food service school, motor transport school, and supply school. We were bussed out there. It was a separate. It was separated a little bit, oh probably about 15-20 miles from the main base,” Urban explained.
She served at Camp Lejeune for nearly two years. Then it was time to…
“Start raising kids. That’s why I got out of the service. They wouldn’t leave you in if you were pregnant. And I got married and was pregnant, and you couldn’t stay in,” said Urban.
Urban had six children and settled in Wichita, where she’s lived in the same home for over 60 years.
“I always said I worked in an office so some guy could go to Korea. That is true, but it doesn’t sound very nice, but that’s basically what the women did. We did office work so those guys could go do what they had to do. I’m happy I did it,” said Urban. “It wasn’t what I thought I would dream of doing when I was younger. I wanted to be a secretary, but when you can’t do shorthand in the 50s, you weren’t going to be a secretary. So, I could type pretty good, so I ended up being a secretary in the Marine Corps, which worked fine.”
Urban eventually made it to California to see her daughter, Linda, who was serving in the U.S. Army in Los Angeles at the time.
If you want to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Jason Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org.