Women WWII veterans honored

Two more squares were added Friday to a quilt that celebrates women veterans.

World War II veterans Marge Muus and Joy Reiten were the guests of honor at a patriotism assembly at Jim Hill Middle School, where they signed their names to quilt squares that will be added to a signature quilt created by the nonprofit The Dakota Sisterhood of Women Veterans.

“I’m just a kid compared to Marge,” said Joy Reiten, who is a few years younger than Muus, who celebrated her 95th birthday this week. Both women said they were pleased to be honored.

Reiten volunteered for the U.S. Navy WAVES in early 1943. She trained as an airplane mechanic at Norman, Okla., and was assigned to the U.S. Navy Air Station in San Diego, where she served as a mechanic repairing Navy military aircraft until until her discharge from the service. Reiten, the widow of Chester Reiten, lost a brother in the war as well. Her brother Staff Sergeant Chester Steenerson was killed in the invasion of Anzio, Italy in 1944. She lives in Minot and has five children and four grandchildren.

Muus was the first North Dakota woman to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. In February 1943, at the age of 24, she enlisted for the duration of the war. Following basic training she reported to duty at Camp LeJeune, N.C., as a legal adviser in the Reserve and as an instructor in Naval Law for the Officer Candidate School. Later, she was assigned to the Marine Base at Quantico, Va., as an intelligence and research officer in the Intelligence Section of the Marine Corps Command and Staff School. Her third active duty assignment was to Washington, D.C. in the Discipline Division and Judge Advocate General’s Office where she served as a Military Intelligence Officer. She was promoted to First Lieutenant in February 1944. She was relieved from active duty in 1945 to return home to Fargo to care for her critically ill mother. Two years later, in October 1947, she received permanent rank in the U.S. Marine Corps. The following year she received the rank of captain. She was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in 1953. Muus was married to Magner J. Muus and raised six children in Minot. She now has 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The Dakota Sisterhood of Women Veterans has been working on the quilt for a little under two years. Any veteran who served in peacetime or wartime is eligible to sign a quilt square and put it up. The group wants more women to sign quilt squares. When it is completed, they intend to display the quilt in the North Dakota State Capitol during Women’s Veterans month.

Jim Hill principal Cindy Mau said it is important for the children at Jim Hill to hear the women’s stories and to honor the sacrifices they made. The patriotism assembly seemed particularly appropriate after the Boston Marathon bombing, she said.