Last week, a U.S. Marine became the first woman to complete the grueling 13-week training course intended for infantry officers. Although she wishes to remain anonymous, this brave woman deserves as much recognition as we can give.
According to the Marine Corps Times, three dozen women signed on for the infantry training course and did not finish it. In total, 131 people have attempted to conquer this course. Out of those 131, only 88 people have successfully completed it – all of whom, save for one, were men. Now that this groundbreaking woman is a lieutenant, she is in charge of leading a platoon of about 40 marines and will join the first Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, California.
Beginning in March of 2016, former president Barack Obama finally opened up all military positions to women, including combat units. Women currently make up about 15 percent of the nearly 1.4 million active-duty troops in the U.S. armed forces.
“I am proud of this officer and those in her class,” Marine Corps commandant General Robert Neller said about the anonymous woman.
While women were technically not allowed to participate in combat, thousands of American servicewomen fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, even without validation from their country. The Marines has traditionally been known to be the branch of the U.S. military that is least accepting of women, especially in combat positions.
“Marines expect and rightfully deserve competent and capable leaders, and these (Infantry Officer Course) graduates met every training requirement as they prepare for the next challenge of leading infantry Marines; ultimately, in combat,” Neller also noted.
Just this year, a secret Facebook group called “Marines United” was discovered, featuring nude photos of female Marines that were posted and shared without their approval or knowledge. The story spread like wildfire across the internet, highlighting the gross acts done by those who are meant to serve and protect the men and women of America.
Cpl. Angelique Preston, a field wireman, said this before the first female marine had completed the course: “I’ve seldom have female higher-ups,” she said. “A leader is a leader. If they’re good, that’s all that matters.”
Preston also said, “My dad’s an artillery officer in the Army. When I was a kid, I remember he showed me videos of howitzers, and I said I wanted to do this. He said, ‘Not in my lifetime.’ But when he came to my graduation, someone said he looked proud.”
This lieutenant’s barrier-breaking achievement brings us one step closer to equality – even in the Marines.
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