First Women Marine Recruits Arrive In San Diego For Basic Training
The first female Marine recruits touched down Monday night at San Diego International Airport. Along with their own training, they will test whether San Diego is prepared to end segregated boot camp.
The recruits arrived after dark, in weather unusually cold and windy for San Diego. The 60 women are the first female Marine recruits to train on the West Coast. They arrived with 450 male recruits. After their flights landed, they lined up at the airport with the male recruits who will make up the other elements of Lima Company.
Under a new COVID-19 protocol, Marines use the USO at the airport for testing and paperwork before recruits are bussed to the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot.
“And then they start filling out forms,” Lt. Col. Tracy Maese said. “Storage of their cell phones. Make a call home to their loved ones to let them know that they have arrived safely.”
New recruits typically arrive at the beginning of the week. In some ways it is just a typical Monday night at MCRD, mixed with history, Maese said.
“It’s just another step in making Marines and that’s what we are doing,” she said. “Anyone who shows up at the yellow footprints is who we are here to train. And the fact that we get to train female recruits is just a super exciting monumental day in Marine Corps history.”
Until Monday, all female recruits trained on the East Coast. Congress is requiring the Marines to fully integrate women into boot camp.
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At the moment, this is a one time test to see what it will take to finally open San Diego to women. These women were chosen at random from the western half of the U.S.
Tsunami Smith, 18, of St. Charles, Illinois said her mother was a Marine.
“It’s exciting, because I know it’s a big step,” she said. “I know it’s a big step for the Marine Corps and it feels like an honor to be one of the first girls to be able to go.”
After grabbing their gear, all of the recruits were sent to hotel rooms for two weeks — a new step designed to keep COVID-19 out of boot camp. After that, they will meet their drill instructors and start the formal process of becoming a Marine.