Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
She Was Born In A Russian Prison And Became A US Marine. The Infantry Is Next
The journey that leads to military service is as varied and unique as those who choose to serve and for one young Marine, this is particularly true.
18-year-old Maria Daume’s path to the yellow footprints of Parris Island, South Carolina, which will culminate in her graduation on Jan. 13 before later heading off to the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry, began years ago in a prison in Siberia, Russia, where she was born.
Daume and her twin brother Nikolai were born while her mother was incarcerated and lived in the prison with her for two years until their mother's death. They were moved to an orphanage in Moscow for two more years before the twins were adopted by an American family living in Long Island, New York.
Pvt. Maria Daume receives an Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem from her senior drill instructor Jan. 5, 2017, on Parris Island, S.C.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas
On Jan. 13 Daume will graduate from boot camp as a private, just over three months after arriving at Recruit Depot Parris Island. Recently Daume completed the Crucible, the final training event recruits undergo before earning the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor; and the title Marine.
“I came here thinking it was all physical and I did not realize there were classes and so much to learn about the Marine Corps,” she told Task & Purpose in an interview. “That was definitely the hardest part, all the knowledge and everything you have to retain. It’s on you. You can’t expect that somebody else is going to teach you, you learn it and it’s your job to grasp it.”
Daume is one of four female Marines who will graduate from Parris Island on Jan. 13 with a contract into infantry, making them among the first women to enlist into the career field. After the graduation ceremony and block leave, she and three other female Marines will begin infantry training.
For Daume, the decision to enlist in the infantry boiled down to one thing, she wants to fight, she said.
“I want to fight ISIS,” said Daume. “Even though everybody in the military fights, I want to be a grunt. I think everything about it is for me, and I want to prove that females can do it.”
When she was a teenager, Daume was at a fundraiser for brain cancer awareness when she saw a group of Marines with a stand and a pull up bar.
“They were doing pull-ups and push ups and I fell in love with it right off the bat,” Daume said. “When I met my recruiter through our high school, he already knew about me from the recruiter I met when I was 12 years old at the cancer fundraiser.”
Growing up in the States, Daume had a relatively normal childhood, but it wasn’t without adversity. She was bullied in school, sometimes for being adopted, other times for where she was born, but it led her to develop a thick skin and a cool head.
“They would say things about my mom and why she was in prison even if no one knew why," Daume said in a Department of Defense news release. “Bullying was a big thing.”
A lifelong competitor, she took to playing sports from basketball to soccer, softball, field hockey, and competed in mixed-martial arts, where the ability to take a hit and remain calm and controlled is crucial.
Rct. Maria Daume, Platoon 4001, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, waits for her opponent during body sparring on the Crucible Jan. 5, 2017, on Parris Island, S.C.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas
“With MMA it is all about staying calm and not getting angry,” Daume said in the press release. “If you get angry you can make stupid mistakes. I know how to get hit and keep cool. With the team sports, you have to work together. When you’re a team, you’re a family.”
That competitive spirit is what led her to the Marines, she said.
From the start, she knew what she wanted to do in the Corps, and when the military opened the doors for women to serve in ground combat roles she went to the Marine recruiter’s office with one job in mind: Daume wanted to be a grunt.
“Once I walked in and I told him ‘I want to be deployed. I want to go infantry,’ he said O.K. and right off the bat I could tell my recruiter had my back, and he wasn’t going to say O.K. just to say O.K,” she said. “He was going to do his job and help me out. He helped me a lot to get my infantry contract.”
Maria Daume, Platoon 4001, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, sights in on a simulated enemy during the Crucible Jan. 5, 2017, on Parris Island, South Carolina.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas
While aware that her decision to enter the Marine Corps with an infantry contract places her at the center of politically charged debates surrounding women in combat roles, Daume sees her decision as a personal one. However she’s quick to point out that what she’s seeking to do isn’t entirely new, women have and will serve in combat, just like men.
“Women have been in combat for years and so I don’t feel a lot of pressure in that regard,” she said. “I’m not really worried about what anybody thinks. I’m going to get through it and do it for me, and for other females joining the military so they can do it as well.”
This article originally appeared on Military.com.
Inside Forward Operating Base Oqab in Kabul, Afghanistan stands a wall painted with a mural of an airman kneeling before a battlefield cross. Beneath it, a black gravestone bookended with flowers and dangling dog tags displays the names of eight U.S. airmen and an American contractor killed in a horrific insider attack at Kabul International Airport in 2011.
It's one of a number of such memorials ranging from plaques, murals and concrete T-walls scattered across Afghanistan. For the last eight years, those tributes have been proof to the families of the fallen that their loved ones have not been forgotten. But with a final U.S. pullout from Afghanistan possibly imminent, those families fear the combat-zone memorials may be lost for good.
After a string of high profile incidents, the commander overseeing the Navy SEALs released an all hands memo stating that the elite Naval Special Warfare community has a discipline problem, and pinned the blame on those who place loyalty to their teammates over the Navy and the nation they serve.
A group of vets are raising money to pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.
The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.