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First Class Of Female Recruits In San Diego History Officially Become Marines

First female recruits wait on top of the Reaper, the highest point in Camp Pe...

Photo by Steve Walsh

Above: First female recruits wait on top of the Reaper, the highest point in Camp Pendleton, to receive their Eagle Globe and Anchor, the symbol that they are now Marines, April 22, 2021.

Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

The first female recruits to train in San Diego officially became Marines Thursday morning, after scaling the Reaper — the tallest point at Camp Pendleton.

The first platoon of female recruits in San Diego history scaled the peak in full-pack along with the five male platoons of Lima Company. Hiking it is the end of the crucible — a 54-hour long, nearly non-stop exercise — which started Tuesday. Working with very little sleep, the recruits navigated obstacle courses, crawled through the mud, boxed one another and hiked well into the night.

Senior Drill Instructor, Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, spoke to each history-making recruit as she handed them a pin with the eagle globe and anchor, the official symbol of the Marine Corp. They were now Marines.

BOOTCAMP

Reported by Steve Walsh

“You should be proud of yourself because I know I am,” Staroscik told Raymie Auldridge of Texas. “Look at me Auldridge, I’m proud of you. Congratulations.”

Like many in the platoon, Auldridge cried, partly from joy, but also from pain. She had been diagnosed with bone fractures in her legs but chose to hike the Reaper anyway.

“It kind of hurts standing here, but it feels good knowing that I made it, safe and sound back at the squad bay as a Marine,” she said an hour later.

Photo caption:

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Pvt. Mia O’Hara, 19, of Hayden, Idaho, holds the Marine Corps' Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem she received April 22, 2021, for completing the Crucible, the grueling last leg of boot camp, and officially becoming a Marine.

Their drill instructor said these women needed to understand that this first class of women accomplished what they set out to do at the beginning of boot camp.

“They did it. They did it. They physically and mentally pushed through the barrier and made it up. It’s going to be the first of several challenges,” Staroscik said. “But when they have those future challenges they can look back at something they absolutely did not think they could do and they did it.”

The future of female recruits in San Diego is uncertain. This class was still only a test. Congress gave the Marines until 2028 to integrate the West Coast boot camp. The Marines are the last service to separate men and women at the recruit level.

“The perfect thing now is for the Marine Corps...to continue this momentum,” Staroscik said. “Like this group of girls laid the perfect foundation. The perfect foundation to begin this and to continue this.”

Though they are officially Marines, this first class will graduate May 6 before a small group of family and friends.

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Photo of Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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