While boot camp is still not over for the 53 women in Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, they did complete the crucible Thursday morning, earning the title of Marine.
“In an effort to forge Marines of the highest quality, we must give them every opportunity to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Ryan P. Heritage, the commanding general for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said in a statement emailed to Marine Corps Times on Friday. “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.”
The Crucible is the culminating event in Marine Corps boot camp that sees the recruits spend three days in the field hiking and completing several small exercises to test what they learned in boot camp.
The final Crucible event is a daunting hike along a long ridge in Camp Pendleton, California, known as the Reaper.
The already exhausted soon-to-be Marines start the hike long before the sun comes up while carrying their rifle and packs weighing up to 70 pounds.
Once the hike is completed the women took part in a short, emotional ceremony where they were handed the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, the insignia of the Marine Corps, by their drill instructors, and called Marines for the first time.
The platoon of women trained alongside male recruits for the first time in history as the Marine Corps pushes to fully integrate boot camp at San Diego and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.
Parris Island, South Carolina, traditionally has been the only recruit depot to train women, while men were split up between boot camps based on where in the country they enlisted from.
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act required the Marine Corps to fully integrate boot camp, down to the platoon level.
Parris Island, South Carolina, was given five years while San Diego was given eight to comply with the congressional mandate.
For this historical fist in San Diego, Lima Company saw one platoon of women training alongside five all-male platoons, a model first tested out in Parris Island, South Carolina, starting in 2019.
So far 15 coed companies have graduated from Parris Island, South Carolina, since the base started experimenting with the setup.
“The opportunity to learn from one another and train together is invaluable in the making of Marines, not only in terms of the transformation from civilian to Marine, but also for their continued success in the Fleet Marine Force and in dealing with the future operating environment,” Heritage said. “This will get us one step closer to understanding what facilities and personnel we will need to make this a continuing reality.”
The gender-integrated company created an environment uniquely focused on “problem-solving and team building,” a spokesman for the San Diego depot told Marine Corps Times.
“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 in an email. “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.”
“These positive and inclusive outcomes will position male and female Marines from Lima Company for follow-on training,” he added.
The new Marines have entered the “fourth phase” of boot camp, where they will finish up administrative work and start the mental transition from being a recruit to being a Marine.
They will officially graduate from boot camp on May 6, before heading off to either Marine Combat Training or the School of Infantry, depending on their future Marine Corps job.