Score one for equality.
Here Are The First 4 Women In History To Complete Marine Infantry Training
Every Marine knows Opha Mae Johnson, the first woman who ever enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Now almost 100 years later, the first four females in history have completed the grueling 59-day infantry evaluation course, three of which are graduating Thursday at the Marine Corps School of Infantry in Camp Geiger, CNN reports.
Delta Company’s Harlee “Rambo” Bradford [pictured middle] and these three other female Marines started as a group of 15 enlisted women, the first to volunteer for a Marine Corps pilot course. The group comes as a result of the announcement made in January from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, to integrate women into previously closed combat jobs across all service branches.
For the duration of training, the female students were required to meet the same standards as their males counterparts. The women’s physical strength as well as their ability to keep up with men on the battlefield were highlighted on what many consider the most demanding course event — a 12 1/2 mile march in combat gear.
The hike lasted no more than 5 hours while each student hauled almost 90-pounds of gear, at nearly a 4 mph pace (almost a jog), rifle included.
The women still must pass a Combat Fitness Test with male scoring in the next two days, but the test is largely superficial for the women, despite being officially scored. Every Marine in every job field usually takes both a basic Physical Fitness Test and CFT at the beginning and end of their course curriculum.
These women have already passed both tests with male standards upon entry to the course.
Unfortunately, qualifying doesn’t mean entry into the infantry ranks quite yet. These four are just part of a 100-Marine pilot program aimed at testing the viability of women in Infantry training.
“The women who graduate from infantry training on Thursday will not be assigned to infantry units, nor will they earn an infantry occupational specialty. They will report to their originally slated schoolhouses to earn a non-combat MOS,” Capt. Carey of SOI-East wrote via email.
The Corps plans to send more female Marines through this pilot course within the next year. Currently there are 11 women in Echo Company and 8 in Alpha Company, the two companies behind Delta in training.
Women in other sister service branches are also excelling in their combat training. By the end of this year, six women sailors are expected to become the first formally assigned to a Riverine combat company.
(UPDATE: Bradford reportedly incurred an injury to her leg this past weekend. The injury prevents her from taking the basic fitness tests, a requirement for Marines prior to heading to their next command. Though she has completed the coursework, Bradford will heal up, take the test, and graduate will a following company, sources tell us.
An earlier version of the story said 4 Marines would graduate this week. Because of Harlee’s injury, that number has been revised to 3.)
EDIT: We have removed the names of two of the women.
We think this is an awesome historic accomplishment, which is why we originally included the names. But our determination was that unless they wanted to introduce themselves, we’d let them publicize their success on their own terms.