First Class Of Female Recruits In San Diego History May Be The Last For Now
Speaker 1: 00:00 Female recruits went through Marine boot camp in San Diego for the first time, this spring, as they are set to graduate these new Marines and their instructors say the time has come for them to keep training on the West coast KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh has the story Speaker 2: 00:18 Though isolated. The first group of female recruits to train in San Diego, understood people were watching. Some were cheering them on while others were more negative, like Fox news, host Tucker Carlson, who called efforts to accommodate female troops, a mockery of the U S military senior drill instructor, Amherst, Jurassic. Speaker 3: 00:38 They're not oblivious to what happens on social media. So they know what's being said. I think it became more of a challenge to them to push them to be harder than it did set them back. Speaker 2: 00:48 The cameras often followed the women as they ran, swam climbed obstacles and crawled through the California dirt. Speaker 1: 00:58 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 00:58 Low point came midway through the 13 weeks as drill instructors, Stephanie fall, Speaker 3: 01:04 He came to initial drill. They were very, very nervous and, and they missed a lot. And we, we actually tied for last Speaker 2: 01:11 Drill, synchronized marching. The women came in behind the five male platoons. The males are loud as they moved their weapons in unison from shoulder to shoulder. Speaker 1: 01:25 Yeah, Speaker 2: 01:25 Men are meticulous, better attention to detail, but they weren't confident then came round to final drill, says recruit Marie Anne Pata. Speaker 3: 01:34 I think we all woke up and said, why do we put ourselves down? Everyone else is breaking a style. We're supposed to be the ones building ourselves back up Speaker 1: 01:48 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 01:48 They won beating the five other platoons Speaker 3: 01:51 You could tell. The moment we hit that parade deck, there was just passion. All of us remembered why we wanted to be a breeze Speaker 2: 01:58 At 21. Pata is older than the average recruit. She dropped out of college in her junior year. When she ran out of money, she was homeless for a time. Her parents didn't want their honors student daughter to join the Marines. Speaker 3: 02:11 We made our statement if a good, uh, there were a lot of tears where they had outset platoon, 30 to 41 quadrille there were a lot of tears. We were so happy. Speaker 2: 02:22 There were more tears to come. Unlike the Marines, traditional training site for women in flats, swampy Parris Island, South Carolina, West coast bootcamp culminates with scaling the Reaper, a summit that looms over training at camp Pendleton. Speaker 3: 02:37 See the Reaper, even at the chow hall at us girls, even I've overheard, uh, male recruits, you see it, you just kind of trouble, Speaker 2: 02:46 But they reached the top where they held the traditional ceremony. Each new Marine received an Eagle globe and anchor pin. The symbol of the Marine Corps. Patara muddy and sleep deprived, held it in her Palm. And then so Speaker 3: 03:00 More, so much more than it thought it was going into it. Speaker 2: 03:03 Graduates of West coast. Bootcamper dub Hollywood Marines. And these women are the first female Hollywood Marines in the hundred year history of San Diego bootcamp. Speaker 3: 03:13 And it's true. Looking down at this. I, I didn't think I was strong enough to be here. Every single deal is scary to be here. This shows to everyone that I actually can show myself that I'm bigger than I am. Speaker 2: 03:27 Marines are the last service to fully integrate women into bootcamp. They are under a congressional mandate to open bootcamp in San Diego to women, but the deadline is 2028 for now. Another cycle of women isn't scheduled for San Diego, senior drill instructors to Rasik doesn't want it to end Speaker 3: 03:45 Hi right now. And I think the perfect thing for this high would be to continue pushing forward. They can do everything that is done out here. They prove that pretty thoroughly that yes they can. And actually they can do it really well Speaker 2: 04:05 Though. Unless something changes these 53 women are the first and at least for a while, the last female Hollywood Marines Speaker 1: 04:16 Joining me is KPBS military reporters, Steve Walsh, Steve. Welcome. Hi, Maureen, has there been any reason given why another group of women isn't scheduled to go through bootcamp in San Diego? Speaker 2: 04:30 Well, I have a little bit more of an insight because I was able to talk to the, uh, the Colonel in charge of MCRD San Diego, Colonel Matthew Palmer. He says, he's not heard about another group of female recruits being scheduled. And since these Marines officially graduate tomorrow morning over to MCRD, the assumption is there won't be another class in the near future. Now they don't know for sure, but Palm to emphasize that this was a test though. It's a proof of concept as he calls it. They're not required by law to have these women training regularly at MCRD San Diego until 2028. And they don't have to integrate bootcamp at Parris Island until 2025. Speaker 1: 05:10 Now, obviously the women Marines you spoke with were very happy with the success of their training, but is that how the Marine Corps brass feels about their performance? Speaker 2: 05:21 Well, I mean, there was a great deal of publicity surrounding this. So I assume they didn't want the women to fail all eyes were on this and not only just on these women, but on the Marine Corps as a whole, they have to show that the Marine Corps can handle the tasks that help given to them by Congress. The commandant of the Marine Corps has said publicly that they are going to comply with the law. So, uh, the Marines, uh, liked the idea that somehow everyone is, is kept to the same standards, both men and women, and these women did keep to the same standard and they did excels the Marines, still do struggle with the basics. They have redesign packs and body armor to better fit women. These women get a lot more lower body injuries. And there's a feeling that if they redesign the packs in a different ways, that could make it easier for women to hike long distances without injuries, but they haven't made a decision on when we're going to see more women MCRD San Diego. And when I talked to Colonel PAMA, he says, you know, it's his hope that it's, that they beat that 20, 28 deadline, but they really don't know. Speaker 1: 06:27 Now you told us the story about the female platoon first failing, and then succeeding actually winning the drill are Marine recruits always separated into male and female platoons. Speaker 2: 06:40 Yeah, they are. That's, that's kind of the whole gist of this. This is why Congress is pushing them to integrate the, uh, male and female recruit training. You know, and I'm going to follow up on this story with, with one more feature after they graduate about the difference between the Marines and the other services. Actually, they sent some representatives from MCRD San Diego to the other services, boot camps, to see how it was done. You know, the other services, combined males and females at the platoon level, they're all in the same platoon operating the same way, which is the way that things are when they're, you know, out in the field after they graduate. It's really only the Marines that, that like separating them and this and this initial steps. So at San Diego, they integrate much of the training, but when they were in the field, they trained alongside men. They, they worked in small groups where at times they were leading the male recruits and switching off, which is the hallmark of Marine training is working in these small groups. So the question is, is whether keeping them separate, even satisfies the law, put into place to integrate bootcamp by 2028. But I'm going to get into that in another piece. Speaker 1: 07:50 Now you mentioned the criticism directed toward female military personnel by Tucker Carlson and those comments on social media. I know that you keep up with what's being said online. So is there a lot of negativity directed towards these women? Speaker 2: 08:05 You know, first I want to emphasize that I had many female Marines and female, former female Marine vets who contacted me online. They were very excited, very proud about what was happening here. They were retweeted these stories, which were very popular, but yeah, Tucker Carlson's comments seem to provoke, uh, re uh, while it did provoke a response from the commandant of the Marine Corps, supporting these women. And, and those comments of the comment of the Marine Corps were read to those recruits while they were going through training. But yes, you saw online, you saw these sort of crusty veterans claiming that, you know, either women didn't belong there or somehow that they weren't following the same standards as, as the male recruits, there were some somehow like, you know, lessening the standards and the one positive of all, this is everything. These female recruits was incredibly well-documented. We were there several times documenting it. There were other local news outlets and national news outlets there. I think I counted maybe two separate documentary crews that were looking at it. So when, when they went through this whole process and they showed the successes that they did, it really did emphasize, you know, that these women did what the, what the Marines said they were doing, which is keeping to the very same standard. Speaker 1: 09:26 What struck you the most in speaking to the female recruits about their bootcamp experience? Speaker 2: 09:33 Well, these are, most of these are 19 year olds who are often not the most articulate people in the world, but I will say these women really, even though they were in some ways picked at random or that they didn't really have much of an idea that they were going to be the part of this first class until really only, just a short time before they, they came to San Diego. But even so many of them had a real sense of the moment here. They also had a sense of purpose. They knew why they wanted to be Marines. You know, I kept asking questions like, you know, there, the Marines have less than, less than 10% of Marines are female. They seem to be women who wanted this specifically, this challenge, they call themselves the fewer and the prouder, which is a play on the Marine slogan, the few, the proud, the Marines. And they were really proud of the fact, not only that they were able to do this, but that they are part of such a small and elite group. Speaker 1: 10:28 I've been speaking with KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh. Steve, thank you very much. Thanks Maureen. A graduation ceremony for the new Marines takes place tomorrow morning at MCR day. Speaker 4: 10:49 [inaudible].