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Marine Corps Celebrates Women in Service

Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act (Public Law 625) June 12th, 1948, integrating women into the Armed Forces. Before this law, women could only contribute to supportive roles such as nursing, clerical work, or communication duties. The passing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act not only recognized and acknowledged the invaluable contributions made by women during World War II, but it symbolized a more inclusive and progressive approach toward integrating women as regular members of the military.

Marine Corps Celebrates Women in Service

Whether leading an infantry platoon, flying attack helicopters, improving Marines’ lethality, or another impactful position, women in the armed forces have shattered stereotypes about traditional societal roles and showcased their immense potential as dedicated service women.

Female leaders like Arizona Native, 1st Lt. Samantha Miller, a scout sniper platoon commander, demonstrate premier resilience, adaptability, and leadership capabilities, proving qualified through rigorous training programs and real-world application.

Miller listed the military occupational specialty of Ground Intelligence Officer, as one of her top choices while attending The Basic School, a nearly seven-month school designed to train and educate newly commissioned officers in the leadership skills required of a rifle platoon commander. “My Staff Platoon Commander was a hardcore infantry guy,” said Miller. “He helped persuade me in the right direction of combat arms.”

Miller is now in her dream job as a Ground Intelligence Officer, serving as a scout sniper platoon commander. To get there, she completed TBS, Infantry Officers Course, Ground Intel Officers Course, Scout Sniper Employment Course, and Tactical Intel Officers Course to lead an infantry platoon.

Making Marine Corps Leaders

IOC is a rigorous and intensive 13-week course designed to develop and assess Marine Corps officers’ leadership abilities, tactical proficiency, and decision-making skills in combat infantry units. To date, only a few women have successfully graduated from IOC in the Marine Corps.

“My biggest accomplishment in the Marine Corps has been graduating from the Infantry Officers Course [IOC],” said Miller. “I had some of the most grueling days of my life there, but I fought through it side by side with some of the people I love most in this world.”

Miller shared what inspired her to take on such a challenge. “I read about the trailblazers that came before me,” said Miller. “The first woman to graduate IOC and the first woman to graduate Army Ranger school, and I thought, ‘Well, if they can do it, I can do it too.’”

Women Serve in Every Climb and Place

From intelligence officers to helicopter pilots, women are making their mark and excelling in every facet of military life.

“You can only be limited by yourself,” said Capt. Amy LaRue, a native of California and an AH-1Z Viper pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 367, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. LaRue pilots Marine Corps attack helicopters providing rotary wing offensive air support, armed escort, and airborne supporting arms coordination capabilities, bringing unique perspectives and skills to enhance the effectiveness of our armed forces.

LaRue knew she wanted to be a Marine Corps helicopter pilot since she was in the third grade. Inspired by her father, a CH-46 Sea Knight pilot, and her mother, a Communications Officers in the Marine Corps, she set her mind to accomplishing her goal.

Flying attack helicopters can be intense and mentally and emotionally demanding. The stress of combat, the constant threat of danger, and the responsibility of operating such a powerful machine can take their toll on a person. However, having a solid bond with fellow crew members can make all the difference.

“The [Marines] are what get you through,” said LaRue. “In the HMLA, they are all super supportive, and we work well together.”

Capt. Amy LaRue flies an AH-1Z Viper helicopter.

A Few Good Women

By breaking barriers and proving themselves as equals to their male counterparts, these women have paved the way for future generations of female service members to thrive in the armed forces without limitations.

“The cobra does not care who’s sitting in it. You just need to do what you need to do,” said LaRue. “To fly the aircraft, you need two pilots to work together to get things done. One pilot can look down and run the mission. They trust the other pilot to fly successfully,” LaRue added.

In an environment where your life depends on the person to the left and right, front and back, it does not matter whether you are a man or a woman; having a trusting and supportive relationship is essential. In an office or on a range, gender does not dictate or limit one’s contribution, as everyone brings a valuable skill set and perspective.

“Rank or gender doesn’t matter,” said Cpl. Cameryn Friesen, a native of Colorado, and a combat marksmanship coach and trainer with Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton. “Shooting a rifle is shooting a rifle.”

Women in Service = Mission Accomplishment

In a professional environment, it is understood Marines have a job to do, and they will accomplish that task without allowing gender to interfere.

“I did so much with my time at the Marksmanship Training Unit. Coaching taught me a lot, because every Marine has a different way of learning,” Friesen added. “I love teaching. I could switch my technique and even teach older Marines something.”

Specialized Marksmanship Skills

Friesen became a coach as a lance corporal. After some time, she was allowed to attend the Combat Marksmanship Trainer Course, a three-week specialized training program designed to equip military personnel with the necessary skills and knowledge to instruct in combat marksmanship.

“There was no other lance corporal or female in my course,” Friesen said. “I’m very proud of myself for graduating and accomplishing that.”

The number of women in the military continues to grow, reflecting the changing dynamics of gender roles and their increased participation in traditionally male-dominated fields. The evolving viewpoint acknowledges courage, leadership qualities, and determination are independent of gender identities, ultimately resulting in a more inclusive military landscape where women can serve alongside their male counterparts in all capacities.

LaRue, Friesen, and other formidable service women, will be recognized during the San Diego Padres Military Salute to Women game at Petco Park April 21. At this event, they will also have the opportunity to interact with a brand-new platoon of female Marine graduates from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, sharing experiences from one generation of female warriors to the next.

– Story by Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Stephanie Cervantes, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

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