For the first time in history, a company of women from the west coast became Marines with a graduation Thursday in San Diego.
The Marines of Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, is a co-ed company of recruits, the first for the region.
The class graduated after completing a 13-week training course and includes 53 women, in addition to 344 men, according to NBC San Diego.
The platoon of women trained along five all-male platoons, a model that was first tested out in South Carolina two years ago.
Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, march in formation during their graduation ceremony
Sr. Drill Sgt. Amber Starosck looks over her all-female platoon as they prepare for graduation ceremonies at the MCRD
For the first time in MCRD San Diego’s history, male and female platoons completed their 13-week training concurrently
The platoon of women trained along five all-male platoons, a model that was first tested out in South Carolina two years ago
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, graduates were only able to invite two guests to the ceremony, with social distancing guidelines and mask mandates in place.
Six female drill instructors helped to teach the class when their training began in February.
Two weeks ago, the Marines earned their titles by completing the Crucible, which consists of three days of hiking and completing small exercises using lessons from boot camp.
The Crucible culminated in a hike along a ridge at Camp Pendleton, which begins before dawn as recruits carry their rifles, as well as packs that could weigh up to 70 pounds.
Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, stand in formation during the graduation ceremony
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, graduates were only able to invite two guests to the ceremony
Senior Drill Sgt. Amber Starosck helps line up her all-female platoon from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion
After the hike, the Marines were handed the insignia of the Marine Corps: the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. The last two weeks have mostly consisted of administrative work and other efforts to transition towards becoming a full-time Marine.
The commanding general of the San Diego recruiting boot camp expressed excitement about the new opportunity available at the site.
‘In an effort to forge Marines of the highest quality, we must give them every opportunity to succeed,’ Brig. Gen. Ryan P. Heritage, commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said to Marine Corps Times upon the completion of the Crucible.
‘This is the first time we are able to give Marines who graduate MCRD San Diego the same experience that their peers at Parris Island receive.’
Pfc. Ann Marie Parra hugs her Mom Lucia with Dad, Efrin looking on after graduating from boot camp at MCRD San Diego
Pfc. Ann Marie Parra hugs her Dad, Efrin, after graduating from boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on May 6
Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, congratulate each other after graduating boot camp
Previously, most female recruits for the Marines Corps underwent their boot camp training at Parris Island, South Carolina, where 15 co-ed companies have graduated so far.
Men were typically assigned to the boot camp closest to where they enlisted.
Integration at the San Diego site became necessary after the passage of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, though.
Ranking officials for the Marines believe the integration of the recruiting units will have positive effects for new members of the service branch.
‘As the first gender integrated company at MCRD San Diego, the new Marines of Lima Company have the benefit of increased exposure/socialization between male and female recruits,’ Capt. Martin Harris said to Marines Corps Times.
Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, prepare for graduation day
Female Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, stand in formation during their graduation ceremony
‘This created an environment focused on problem-solving and teamwork, which has produced a company that consistently performed above average on measurable events throughout the cycle.’
One female recruit celebrated her experience making history on the west coast.
‘It’s an awesome experience, especially for females,’ Anne Frazier said about training in San Diego. ‘I feel like it’s very empowering and a sign of change for me, personally, to be here. I think it’s an opportunity that I thought I’d never have.’
After graduating, the new Marines will either begin Marine Combat Training or continue on to the School of Infantry.