Chapter President Kathleen Ables Major, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
Kathleen Ables, formerly Kathleen V. Abbott, from Castro Valley, CA, joined the Marine Corps in 1967. She went through the Women Officers Candidate Course (WOCC) in Quantico for 10 weeks, June through August 1967. In those times, women attended weapons demonstrations but were not allowed any weapons training; however, they did get to experience the gas chamber! After WOCC came the Women Officers Basic Course (WOBC), also in Quantico. Kathleen completed WOBC in October 1967 and was then sent off to attend Administrative Officers School at Parris Island until the first week in December.
Kathleen’s first duty station was MCRD San Diego. She met Chuck Ables in the Personnel Office in January 1968 when they both reported in at the same time. She and Chuck dated that year, and then he was transferred to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. In June 1969, Kathleen transferred to Atlanta, GA, to be the Woman Officer Selection Officer for the 6th Marine Corps District, which included North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Chuck and Kathleen married in May 1971. In August 1971, they both attended Amphibious Warfare School (AWS) in Quantico. (It's believed that they were the first married couple to attend AWS together.) At AWS, both had to write a staff study, so since she was tired of explaining what women Marines did, Kathleen’s staff study dealt with training women officers at The Basic School (TBS).
Then it was off to Okinawa for 18 months, followed by Twentynine Palms for two and a half years. In 1975, Kathleen was sent to H&SBn and became a company commander, first of Service Company, then of Headquarters Company. This was after the WM companies had been disestablished. According to the WM history monograph, Kathleen was the first woman commander of a mixed gender company since WWII.
Next, both Chuck and Kathleen headed east, Chuck to Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) (at that time in Arlington, Virginia) and she to Quantico. She spent her first year at the air station (home of Marine One), and the second year at the Education Center. From there she went to HQMC and worked in the Reserve Division for three years.
While at HQMC, Chuck and Kathleen adopted their daughter Jennifer in December 1978. In 1981, the Ables transferred to the 1st Force Service Support Group (FSSG). Because the CO liked to move his officers about every six months, Kathleen held several different jobs while there: Battalion XO, Assistant G-1, and the FSSG personnel officer. It was during that time that Chuck and Kathleen adopted their second daughter, Elizabeth.
Then it became Kathleen’s turn to go back to Okinawa. Chuck waived his overseas control date and the whole family went to the 3rd FSSG in Okinawa. After the year in Okinawa, they came back to Camp Pendleton: Chuck to 1st FSSG and Kathleen to 1st Marine Division. She spent three years as an assistant G-1, then retired in June 1987.
Kathleen has been a member of the WMA CA-7 Chapter since 2006 and serves as the Chapter Officers Nomination Chair, and now serves as the Chapter President as well.
Chapter Vice President Brenda Hockenhull Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
Brenda Hockenhull joined the Marine Corps in June 1971 after graduating high school in Fort Fairfield, Maine. After recruit training, she was the first woman Marine to complete the Test Instrument Repair Course and was assigned the MOS 2871, Field Test Equipment Repair. After 5 years and a short stint at Lowrey AFB in Denver, her MOS was upgraded to 2874, Calibration Technician. Her duty stations included Parris Island, SC; Twenty-nine Palms, CA; Albany, GA; and Barstow, CA.
Interestingly, Brenda's chosen sport while in the Marine Corps was competitive shooting, and she was among the last of the women Marines who were forbidden to participate in a Divisional competition because she was female. Upon completing twenty years of active service, Brenda retired in 1991 as a Gunnery Sergeant.
Today she is an assisting pastor at a Foursquare church in Lake Forest, CA, having earned two Masters of Divinity and one Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, majoring in the Old Testament. She presently serves as the Pastor of Pastoral Care and Discipleship.
Of the four members in her nuclear family, she says only her father was never in the service (her father was a farmer during WWII, and because of their value to the nation, farmers were not drafted into military service). Brenda's mother was in the Army (Signal Corps) during WWII, her brother served in the National Guard during Vietnam, and Brenda enlisted during the Vietnam Era. Brenda wears her mother's dog tag when she attends the Chapter CA-7 meetings in memory of her.
Chapter Secretary Lillian "Lee" Tusa Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps (Prior Service)
"Lee" joined the Marine Corps Reserves in May 1952 and began active duty immediately. Following a brief assignment at Headquarters, Dept. of Pacific, San Francisco, she was transferred to Camp Pendleton Headquarters Battalion Legal Office. On completion of Admin School (Camp Del Mar) and Yeoman "B" School (N.T.C. San Diego), "Lee" was promoted to Corporal and assigned to Base Legal Office at Camp Pendleton. On release of active duty in May of 1954, she started a family and is the proud mother of one son and three daughters all of whom reside in Southern California.
After graduation from Palomar College in 1968, "Lee" studied Public Admin at San Diego State. She was employed for some 50 years in public and private sectors, retiring in 1988 as Superior Court Clerk, County of San Diego. From 1989 to 1997, she returned to work at the court as an employee of an independent contractor. For the past 18 years, she has worked as a volunteer in the District Attorney's Victim Assistance Program.
Chapter Treasurer Lillian "Lil" Cross U.S. Marine Corps (Prior Service)
Born in San Bernardino, California, Lillian graduated high school in Las Vegas, Nevada, attended Nevada Southern University (now UNLV) and joined the Marine Corps in 1967. She was assigned the administrative field. Marrying her husband in 1970, she left the Marine Corps to raise her family. She re-entered the civilian work force in 1977 and eventually found employment at the Department of Motor Vehicles. After 22 years, she retired in 2000 as a manager.
Lil joined WMA and the chapter as a life member in 1994 and has served the chapter in every office except secretary. She served WMA as area director 10 and is currently serving as the WMA Headquarters Manager and Document Curator and Property Control.
Chapter Past President Karla Jessup Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
Karla Jessup joined the Women Marines Association and our chapter last year after retiring in 2011 from the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel. She hails from the great State of Oklahoma and graduated Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1986 with a B.S. degree in mathematics.
Karla joined the Marine Corps and attended the Officer Candidate School (OCS) in October 1987; however, during her training she was injured with a stress fracture and was ordered home a month later. She returned to OCS in June 1988, completed her training, was commissioned a second lieutenant, and subsequently ordered to attend The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, VA in August 1988. Following TBS, Karla attended the Military Police Basic Officer Course at Lackland AFB, Texas.
During her 24-year Marine Corps career, Karla has served in numerous command and staff assignments and at myriad duty stations, including several deployments to Southwest Asia (SWA), Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan which included deployment as an Individual Augment with II Marine Expeditionary Force ll (ll MEF) as the ATPF Officer and/JPEC Direction ISO Operation Iraqi Freedom (2008-2009). Additionally, she qualified as a Joint Staff Officer after completing the Joint Professional Military Education ll Course in 2005.
Serving two tours at Parris Island (1992-1995 and 2006-2008), Karla was assigned as a Series Commander 4th Recruit Training Battalion (4thRTBn), 1992, an Assistant S-4 Officer with the Recruit Training Regiment, and then Commanding Officer of November Company (1994). She returned to Parris Island in 2006 serving in the G-3 Depot Operations before being assigned as the Commanding officer of the 4th RTBn.
Other tours of duty included MCAS, Miramar as the Deputy Provost Marshal and Operations Officer (1996-1999); Houston, TX as the Recruiting Station Commanding Officer (199-2002); U.S. Central Command, Tampa, FL as Branch Chief, Detainee Affairs, Joint Security Directorate (2003-2006) resulting in several deployments noted above. She has also served as the Provost Marshal, MCB Kaneohe, HI (2008) followed by deployment with ll MEF as the ATFP Officer/JPEC Direction ISO Operation Iraqi Freedom Nov 2008-Nov 2009). Her final assignment was as the Provost Marshal, MCB, Kaneohe, HI. (2009-2011). Karla has also attended the Amphibious Warfare School,(1995-1996) the FBI Academy (1997), and the Command and Staff College (2002-2003).