Marine Company’s historic integration of woman into its ranks
SAN DIEGO: For the first time in its 100-year history the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego graduates a gender-integrated Company including 53 female Marines. On May 6, 2021, these women join with 344 male counterparts to celebrate the completion of 13 weeks of grueling training. To pass one of the toughest entry level-training courses in the U.S. military.
On “Lethal Lima” Company’s graduation day, their sweat and pain is recognized by becoming a Marine. Fifty-three women fought and earned a military milestone of achievement. In what can only be a life-changing journey for these uncommon women warriors.
“Our goal is to transform civilians into basically trained Marines; Marines who are imbued with our Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment, and are armed with the foundational skills to thrive in the Fleet Marine Force and in the future operating environment,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan P. Heritage, commanding general of MCRD San Diego.
Concurrent male, female basic training is a top priority for the Marine Corps,
The success of Lima Company runs in accordance with the laws that govern recruit training.
“Every young man or woman who comes to MCRD San Diego receives the same immersive, rigorous training, and is required to meet and maintain our high standards,” says Heritage.
The inaugural gender-integrated course helps set infrastructure and personnel requirements for permanent gender-integrated training at the San Diego facility. Female boots on the ground is no longer an idea to discuss, but a reality to absorb with AWE.
The battle to belong begins here.
Corps leaders gain assurance that female Marines in their units can fight for a collective purpose with the men. Fifty-three women started ‘belonging’ on the grounds at MCRD San Diego.
This thanks to the vision of Col. Joseph Pendleton in 1914. The Marines were training at Camp Howard on North Island in San Diego in what Pendleton called “deplorable conditions.” He wrote the Commandant of the Marine Corps in Washington D.C. to present the idea of a better as well as more permanent location.
The overall site and specific building plans of MCRD were the inspiration of renowned architect, Bertram Goodhue. Thirteen of its buildings are known for unique Spanish colonial revival style. Those buildings bear the names of famous Marines, such as Daly Barracks, Pendleton Hall, McDougall Hall, and Day Hall. The depot has 388 acres and 25 buildings listed on the national register of historic places. It houses a fantastic museum of Marine Corps history full of unforgettable people and accomplishments.
“Today the Recruit Depot provides its nation’s Corps with basically trained Marines to fight in the current conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The depot has the responsibility to train all [sic] recruits who reside west of the Mississippi River to serve at the call of the nation,” states MCRD on their website
Parris Island, North Carolina is home to the only other Marine boot camp. They see 3,400 female graduates a year.
Female Marines follow in the boot steps of every legacy Marine that has earned the emblems of a Marine. To join those with uncommon valor who fight for our Nation’s cause.
“Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force, also wants his Marines trained and ready to fight adversaries just as combat capable and technologically adept as they are,’ reports USNI News.
Osterman says future neer-Peer adversaries (like Russia, China, North Korea) may have the same or better capability, lethality. And really wants Marines to have that tactical, operational edge over them.
“We Make Marines” (motto).
Making Marines is not for the faint-hearted of either gender.
There’s a lot of expectations for us,” said Annika Tarnanen, 19, from Minneapolis, one of 60 women who began recruit training back in January in San Diego. Seven dropped out due to injuries, “ Times of San Diego reports.
Gender-integrated Marines have to keep up. So the requirements at MCRD stretches even the strongest constitutions. The character and will of every individual does emerge.
You have to pass through sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, crunches and timed three-mile runs. The combat fitness test demands they don full battle gear and sprint the distance, to mimic the pressure under battle. Both men and women have to lift 30 pounds of ammunition overhead. Tests require critical thinking, problem-solving…and many times snap decisions.
Both male and female Marines work in teams learning the foundational skills that will help them survive and win. All must infuse a positive, never-give-up attitude.
“The Maneuver Under Fire is a 300-yard course that combines a variety of battle-related challenges, including crawls, ammunition resupply, grenade throwing, agility running, and the dragging and carrying of another Marine,” says the Marines without apology.
The latter of which they may find themselves under fire from an insurgent murder hole and/or walking over IED- infused turf in a combat zone far from home.
A warrior to fight alongside with: The final test.
The Crucible at Camp Pendleton is a 54-hour test worthy of its name. Marines camp outside with three hours of sleep per night.
Included in the Crucible is a 9-mile hike carrying rifles and 50-pound backpacks. It can be searing heat over austere hilly terrain through thick brush that hides venomous rattlesnakes. They charge yelling, up a final steep hill called the Reaper to a peak overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And there receive in a solemn rite of passage, their emblems from their drill instructors.
Some gasp for a breath, mouths parched and bodies spent, yet strengthened. To marvel how they pulled that warrior spirit out of themselves. Realizing they won over hard, and hard did not beat them, no matter the gender.
There’s a lot of expectations for us,” said Annika Tarnanen, 19, from Minneapolis, one of 60 women who began recruit training back in January in San Diego. Seven dropped out due to injuries,” says Times of San Diego.
Staff Sergeant Amber Staroscik, chief drill instructor for the platoon of women praises her recruits,
“You are part of Marine Corps history.”
A limited amount of family members will be able to attend Lima Company’s graduation, following CDC’s guidelines. Then after a period of on-base liberty, the Marines are on to their next duty station. Female Marines will carry the same pack, hike the same hills, traverse the same future battlegrounds with the men.
Becoming a Marine is a noble path that forms unbreakable bonds.
“With so many eyes on us we don’t want to be looked at as failures,” said Abagail Ragland (20), considered one of female platoon 3241’s best recruits.
Ragland decided to sign up when hearing the Marine Corps had an exceptional brotherhood.
“And now,” she said, “a sisterhood.”
“Every man a rifleman,” says the Marine Corps…and every woman too.
About the Author:
Senior Staff Writer for CommDigiNews, Jeanne McKinney is an award-winning writer whose focus and passion is our United States active-duty military members and military news. Her Patriot Profiles offer an inside look at the amazing active-duty men and women in all Armed Services, including U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard.
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