Marines give accused deserter a discharge with honorable conditions

Daryn Slover

Elizabeth Tremblay of Poland enlisted in the Marines in 1980 when she was Donald Tremblay. Donald Tremblay left in 1981 and Elizabeth Tremblay was arrested 31 years later for desertion.

POLAND — Elizabeth Tremblay's worries of prison are over.

Tremblay, 57, of Poland received her general discharge Monday morning from the U.S. Marines.

The discharge, which was "under honorable conditions," ends a decades-long odyssey for Tremblay that began with her enlistment in 1980, her departure from the Marines a year later and continued last September, when she was arrested and jailed on a charge of desertion.

During the interim, Tremblay, who was born "Donald Tremblay" also began a sex change.

"It's going to take a while to sink in," she said. Her case was featured in Sunday's Sun Journal. "When it hits home, that will be emotional."

Tremblay said she left the Marines in 1981, shortly after her orders were changed. She had joined the Marines with the expectation of training in teletype communications. Instead, the Marines wanted to change her specialty to driving trucks or Jeeps.

Rather than accept the new orders, she returned home to Lewiston. She worked at L.L. Bean and Bates of Maine until she injured her back in a 2001 car crash. She has collected disability ever since.

In the mid-1990s, she changed her name to Elizabeth. She also began a hormone regimen to initiate a sex change.

She has shoulder-length hair, a woman's bust and a whispery voice. She has not had surgery to remove and replace her male genitalia.

Since 1981, she heard no sign that the Marines wanted her. There were no phone calls or letters, she said.

That changed when the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office discovered a warrant and the desertion charge on a federal database. On Sept. 10, she was arrested and jailed for two-and-a-half days. She has been waiting for the discharge ever since.

Though she had enlisted as "Donald," her discharge, known as a DD-214, reads "Elizabeth Marie."

To her, it feels like a healing gesture on the part of the Marines.

"Every time I hear that old name, I hate it. I cringe," she said. "It's like, 'This is who she is now, and we need to get on the same page and acknowledge it.'"

She plans to meet with a counselor sometime in the next few days to find out whether she is eligible for veterans benefits.

For now, she planned a simple celebration.

"Maybe I'll drive into town and buy a 12-ounce ginger ale," she said.

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Catherine Pressey's picture

Hey how about the back pay!

If she eligible for veterans benefits, she should have some back pay coming! Looks like the Marines new they messed up. Lets face it she had to spend a couple days in jail, and that was 31 years to late. So she must have been Absent with leave, no intention to not go back. Good for Him/her

Steve  Dosh's picture

Marines give accused deserter a discharge with honorable conditi

all, noon hst Tuesday
Good ? 
, /signed, Someone who has served this nation in Africa Guatemala and Micronesia and only got shot at once in the heat of anger . They missed . Ask me. I'll tell you all abou† it • *<;-Q

Steve  Dosh's picture

13.01.15 NOo0øºø•ºn hst

13.01.15 NOo0øºø•ºn hst ?
†imes do change , ƒellahs
Q : You know what we're going to do with those domestic terrorists when we catch them ?
A ; a ) Take all their guns away from them . b) Put 'em in the service ( take your choice ) . c) Send them to France for a sex change operation , then ,d) Send them to the *.stans ( name the eight ( 8 ) stans ) to fight for US •
Just a thought . Don't worry guys . it's a joke. Just a joke • 
/s , Steve *<;-Q~

David Marsters's picture


Did the sherrif that served the warrant get the $75.00 from the Marines? Being a retired cop, we use to get $75.00 from the branch of service that the warrant was issued.

David Marsters's picture


If he/she was discharged under honorable conditions, what is the date on discharge if you know Daniel. She should be entitled to all veterans benefits with back pay and a pension. The government screwed up not her.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Desertion was o.k.?

Desertion was o.k.?


[This comment was removed by the administrator]

Jason Theriault's picture

VA benefits!?!

That's f-ing bs!

I'm sorry, but enough of our vets who served have issues due to an underfunded VA, for someone who deserted putting additional strain on the systems pisses me off.

Catherine Pressey's picture

VA benefits Jason?

No one is saying he/she will get them and it is clear under the rules of Military law no desertion took place. Was not being deployed or at a place of war and no intention not to go the the right school. Period

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It should. How do you go

It should. How do you go A.W.O.L. and get an honorable conditions discharge? What am I missing?

Catherine Pressey's picture

Paul How do you go:

Guess none of you read my post on the story with the rules, he told them at the time, that they told him he was not going to the school that they contracted with him. He told them he was going home and they could reach him there when and if they had the school come available. When that took place right than he could not have left the base and gone AWOL or UA you have to pass through a gate and be on the leave list. If he was telling them he was going AWOL they should have put him in the brink jail guard house right than and there. More probably than not they either lost info. or found supporting info. The story does not tell us the whole history, like the Bible it is written by man and made news, period. READ MY POST FROM THE MILITARY RULES, it was more than likely determined that they let him walk of the base. He was not Absent without leave. Just someone messed up and forgot about him/now her. Just a bit of a twist in the story.

Robert McQueeney's picture

A couple of viewpoints here

First question: How in the world does a deserter get an honorable discharge? And what benefits is he now entitled to, that we'll all have to pay for?

Second question, or perhaps an observation: This article states that he signed up with the expectation of being trained in teletype communications, and instead the Marines wanted to train him to be a truck driver. If the recruiter misrepresented anything to him, he'd have the right to go home as the contract was violated. The marines tried the same thing with my brother, and he told them to give him his ticket back home as they were in violation of the contract he signed. (This may well answer the first question).

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good analysis. If so, it

Good analysis. If so, it likes like a very important part of the story was left out.

 's picture

I don't understand how he

I don't understand how he goes AWOL, now he's been found as a woman, and he's getting a honorable discharge. Which means she will have her service benefits, wonder if the US government will pay for her sex change.
If it was a guy who went AWOL, he wouldnt be getting this treatments.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Wendi Clearly not AWOL or UA

They let him leave the base knowing he was going home, clearly they know more about the mess, or lost all the info pertaining to the case. Either way No desertion or AWOL either. Read the rules. I posted them on the story, was up to the rules written and aheared to, by military case law. And I disagree that he or she is being treated different than a guy, still a guy at the time of the Authorized Leave. Makes no difference in the matter rules are set, non gender. Period.

Richard Begin's picture

Marines et cetera

This Conclusion makes Good Sense .Now we can move on to the Next Story.
I Personally feel this issue was resolved in the best way Possible

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

The conclusion makes no

The conclusion makes no sense. He deserted and now he's receiving an honorable discharge? That is just ridiculous. They're rewarding him for breaking the law, and now he's going to try to get veteran's benefits? You have to be kidding me. This is the most absurd story I've heard in a long time. How does a deserter deserve an honorable discharge? How does a deserter deserve veteran's benefits?

Catherine Pressey's picture

Eric Your Conclusion makes no difference:

You make a passionate heart felt opinion that has no place in this case as you and I do not know the whys this happened the way it did. He did not break the law as military law states, they the military must follow the written law, not the opinion of the public that we are all part of. Maybe if you could walk a mile in his/her shoes and were there at the time you would understand. I was not part of party to the series of mistakes made, only know that it took them 31 years to wake up. And sounds like you and many others would have him/her tarred and feathered. You again are saying he/she is guilty. Again no one has said if she now will receive VA benefits, and if so it is none of our business, since clearly no laws have been broken. This is according to the Honorable discharge so, it is not our place to decide VA issues. Who qualifies and who does not. I think she has gone through enough public mess, and hope she does not give anyone anymore news information. Period. It is a cruel world out here with so called American hero types ready to line a person up on the firing line. Have a better day, good day to you!

Catherine Pressey's picture

Look Eric Under the rules: No desertion took place.

And when he told them he was going home to Maine they, very aparently agreed or he would not have gotten out the gate of the base in the first place. Just a awful mess and mix up on the part of the Marines. Google the rules or read my former comment that has the rules. No intention to desert, or was not UA Absent without leave. To desert you have to be avoiding going into battle or a deployment. This was not the case and since we do not know the whole story and all we get is what is in the story. You are making a assumption he deserted, clearly the Marines felt different and they have rules. As for the VA benefits, no one said he/she would now get them. However I figure if she does than 31 years of back pay are due. Again no deserter according to the rules. Please read the rules. Have a nice one. AND THAT IS MY OPINION LOL

Jeff Johnson's picture

Why Retroactive back pay?

When he left the service, he was no longer "working" and shouldn't be paid for the 31 years of not working.

Should she receive veteran's benefits? I also believe that she forfeited her rights when she left.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Exactly. I don't see how any

Exactly. I don't see how any sane person can view the situation any differently.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Looks like the Marine Corps

Looks like the Marine Corps (or as oBAMa would say, "Corpse") has set an ominous precedent.

Mark Brennick's picture

Please start printing stories

Please start printing stories that are newsworthy,instead of this garbage.Save it for the National Enquiror

Jeff Johnson's picture


A newspaper's job is to make money, by selling ads and papers. This story has more comments than most others... meaning it's being read, and people are looking at the ads. Even YOU commented on it. The paper did its job by printing/posting a story that's getting read. Its worthiness as news means absolutely nothing.

Randall Pond's picture

Nice know

There are Rude and Crude People like you, Mark in Maine.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I too thought this story was

I too thought this story was non-news worthy and a bit misplaced.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Does that make you one of

Does that make you one of those rude and crude people like Mark in Maine?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I guess that is up to the

I guess that is up to the reader. They read, they decide. That is why these comments are simply opinions. You know what that say about opinions are like, ..... everyone has one.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Roger that", said the

"Roger that", said the parrot, who always wanted to be in the Air Force.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

But he gave that up when they

But he gave that up when they informed him that he'd be making transoceanic flights. "I can't fly that freakin' far", he would say.


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