SgtMaj Ainsworth served on active duty in the Marine Corps from Dec. 1981 through Aug. 2007. She attended boot camp in January and February 1982. She recalls, “Back then, women did not qualify with the service rifle! We also received classes on how to properly wear makeup. I believe after I left boot camp, I never wore makeup again!”
Her first duty station was on the island of Okinawa, Japan. She met her husband while in Okinawa and they were married the following year by the Justice of Peace in Jacksonville, NC, over 35 years ago. Together they were stationed on Camp Lejeune from 1983 to 1986. Both were meritoriously promoted to Sergeant on the same day. They received orders to Parris Island, SC to be drill instructors in 1986 and were both meritoriously promoted to Staff Sergeant while serving there. They transferred back to Camp Lejeune together in 1989 and had their first son, RJ, in 1990.
SgtMaj Ainsworth received orders back to Okinawa in 1991 when RJ was just nine months old. She took RJ with her and spent a year on Okinawa while her husband prepared to deploy with his unit. She returned to Camp Lejeune in 1992 and had her second son, Charlie, that year. She was promoted to Gunnery Sgt in 1993 and received orders to Headquarters Marine Corps in Arlington, VA in 1994 – the same year her husband was medically retired from the Marine Corps. SgtMaj Ainsworth served at Headquarters Marine Corps for two years until she was selected to go to college on the Staff NCO degree completion program. She attended Campbell University from 1996-1998, graduating with a BS degree in Psychology. While completing her degree, she was selected to the rank of First Sergeant. SgtMaj Ainsworth served at the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry, Marine Combat Training Battalion from 1999 to 2001. She was promoted to Sergeant Major in 2001. While a Sergeant Major, she deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and to Iraq in 2005. Upon return from Iraq, she became the Sergeant Major of Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools, Camp Johnson, NC. She retired as a Sergeant Major in 2007.
SgtMaj Ainsworth’s service awards include: Legion of Merit, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3d awd), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment ribbon (3d awd), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2d awd), Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
(2d awd), Navy Unit Commendation (3d awd), and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (7th awd).
Upon retirement from the Marine Corps, SgtMaj Ainsworth began working for the Marine Corps Engineer School as a contractor. She has been working as the Operations Chief for the Defeat the Device Branch, Counter- Improvised Explosive Device, Mobile Training Cadre for nearly 12 years. She believes it was the perfect transition from the Marine Corps.
SgtMaj Ainsworth was nominated by her sister, Susan Dewar.
“My sister, Nancy, had an amazing career in the Marine Corps. She retired at the rank of Sergeant Major – the highest enlisted rank one could achieve – after 26 years of active duty service. Nancy achieved what very few Marines achieve and what only a handful of female Marines achieve. She has earned the respect of many!”
SgtMaj Ainsworth chose Gary Sinise Foundation to receive this month’s donation. Explaining her decision, she stated, “This foundation supports and honors active duty military, veterans, as well as first responders. My son is a Raleigh, NC police officer. He was recently critically injured in the line of duty and is recovering at the Wake Med Hospital in Raleigh. A donation to the Gary Sinise Foundation would not only recognize my service but also the service of my son, whose job as a police officer seems exponentially more dangerous than my 25+ years in the Marine Corps!”