Written by Sidiqa Atira
For the first time, 60 women arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, which has been a men-only institution for its nearly 100 year history. In the past, all female Marine Corps trainees attended boot camp at the Marines’ East Coast Parris training base in South Carolina.
A bus full of male and female recruits arrived in San Diego 2 weeks ago and began their session with a medical screening, new apparel for training, and quarantining at a hotel nearby.
The women will be placed separately in a squad bay in the Lima Company barracks. Col. Matt Palma says that women recruits will bear the same obstacle courses that the men face and receive the same training. The Lima Company is set out to prove that they can train women successfully along with their male counterparts.
“It’s no different — we’re going to be training essentially the same ways that we have been for years,” Capt. Ashley Sands said. “But I think it really is just a big moment in terms of being able to do this for the very first time.”
The Marine Corps didn’t begin integration until the 1990s and is trailing behind the rest of the military in this regard. A reason for this could be that the Marine Corps simply doesn’t have enough women recruits to integrate. Women only make up about 8% of the Marine Corps.
Anne Frazier, a Poway local, spoke on her decision for joining the Marine Corps. She mentions how her father, now a retired Marine, was instrumental in her decision. Anne expected to leave San Diego and join the other women recruits in South Carolina. It was to her surprise that training would take place right here in her native city.
One of the biggest feats Anne hopes to accomplish in the trainee boot camp is to be one of the first women in history to complete the obstacle “Reaper Island”. Which is home to a rugged and steep terrain that all trainees must climb with a 55lb backpack strapped to the front of their chests. This course is located in Camp Pendleton and until now was only a course for men trainees.
“I’ve heard all about it many, many times,” she said. “I’m excited, but there’s definitely some nerves. I’m just trying to go day-by-day.”
Photo via U.S. Dept of Defense