Female Marines Begin Historic West Coast Boot Camp In San Diego
After two weeks of isolation to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the first company to include female recruits in the 100-year history of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, officially stepped on the yellow footprints on Tuesday that signify the beginning of their training.
Staff Sgt. Ayesha Zantt, a drill instructor, shouted commands at the recruits as they filed off of the buses.
"You’re going to move when I tell you to move. You’re going to do what I tell you to do."
Zantt explained her method.
“Some people haven’t gotten yelled at their whole life,” she said. “They need to understand the difference.”
Zantt was brought in from Parris Island, South Carolina, to be part of the first team of female drill instructors. On the first day she barked out commands to a mixed group of male and female recruits, but female drill instructors will mainly be in charge of the women recruits.
“They have something to prove. They are the only females who are in training right now,” Zantt said. “This is the first female platoon, so they are going to be going against all their brothers inside of that whole company, Lima Company. They have to show everyone that they are worthy to be here.”
The Marines are the last service to maintain gender segregation. The Marine Corps has been mandated by Congress to integrate women into boot camp. That includes opening up San Diego to women for the first time.
“I had no words at first but now I take pride in that, you know, not many people get this opportunity today,” said 19-year-old Teia Chutaro, who is from Hawaii, but grew up in the Marshall Islands.
Like the other women, Chutaro was originally scheduled to go to boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, before being randomly selected to come to San Diego. She’s starting to understand the significance.
“No, I don’t think it’s going to be tougher. I think it’s just going to give me something to compete against. Make me push harder. And I like that,” she said.
This boot camp is officially just a test. The Marines want to learn what they will need to expand boot camp to include women in San Diego.
Commanders at MCRD said only a few changes were put into place for this first class, as they embark on the 13 weeks it takes to become a Marine.