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For the 1st time, male and female Marine Corps company graduates together at Parris Island

Parris Island makes Marine Corps history: A gender combined company

Marines with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, the first combined company of male and female recruits, graduated at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, March 29, 2019.
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Marines with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, the first combined company of male and female recruits, graduated at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, March 29, 2019.

For the first time in Marine Corps history, both male and female recruits trained together and graduated Friday at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island.

Approximately 50 women formed one of six platoons within the India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion and began boot camp on Jan. 5. The company was comprised of 300 total trainees.

“Their graduation is a testimony of two indisputable truths about recruit training — our platoon model is, and remains, the proven and ideal method for making Marines, and a single company, comprised of male and female platoons, is a practical training option when the conditions permit,” Brig. Gen. James Glynn, commanding general of MCRD Parris Island and the Eastern Recruiting Region, said.

Pfc. Morgan Fielder, a recruit from Gulfport, Mississippi who graduated Friday, said training with male recruits better prepared her for fleet life.

“We had to fight with the guys, do PT with the guys, we did chow together and every training event we were always with them,” Fielder said. “It was fun, built our confidence up and prepared us for a real combat scenario. Your enemy is not going to give you any slack, and the guys didn’t give us any slack.”

The gender-integrated training may not be repeated each training cycle, according to Warrant Officer Bobby Yarbrough with MCRD Communication and Strategy Operations.

“They just graduated today, so obviously there needs to be some assessment that needs to be done,” Yarbough said Friday.

According to a news release, MCRD Parris Island will assess the results of India Company’s training and future opportunities that may permit this company training model.

Yarbough said that there are no plans to repeat the model for the remainder of 2019.

The female trainees were led by female drill instructors at the platoon level, according to a previous news release. The company-level staff was gender-integrated.

“That’s just how the Marine Corps trains,” Staff Sgt. Brittany Kroha, India Company senior drill instructor, said. “It’s by platoon. It doesn’t matter what company you are in. They have to have that continuity in order to transform them.”

ABC previously reported that the female recruits lived in the barracks with male trainees.

“I see this as the elimination of a big barrier to inclusion of women in the Marine Corps,” ret. Lt. Col. Kate Germano, who once commanded Parris Island’s all-female 4th Recruit Training Battalion, said in January.

“My hope is that having women and men train side by side will eliminate a lot of the assumptions about what men and women are capable of doing,” she added.

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