Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Marine Grunts On The Corps' First-Ever Female Infantry Leader: 'She's One of Us'
The first woman to graduate from the Marine Corps' notoriously grueling Infantry Officer Course is now leading a platoon of male grunts in Australia.
First Lt. Marina Hierl is the only female Marine to lead an infantry platoon in her service's history. About a year after she reported to Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, the novelty of it all has worn off a bit — and she's even left some male grunts rethinking their opinions about women in the infantry.
That's according to a new report from The New York Times, which recently observed Hierl training her platoon in Australia's Northern Territory. The grunts are deployed there as part of Marine Rotational Force — Darwin, which spends half of every year Down Under.
The 24-year-old lieutenant from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, told the Times she didn't know much about the military before joining the Marine Corps. What she did know is that she wanted to do something important with her life.
"I wanted to be part of a group of people that would be willing to die for each other," Hierl said.
Marina Hierl participates in an exercise during the Infantry Officer Course at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 18, 2017. The first female Marine to complete the course graduated Sept. 25, 2017.U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Gregory Boyd
When former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced during her sophomore year of college that the policy barring women from serving in the infantry would be lifted, Hierl said she knew what she wanted to do.
"I wanted to lead a platoon," she told the Times. "I didn't think there was anything better in the Marine Corps I could do."
But not everyone was convinced she had what it takes to lead 38 infantry Marines. Others in Echo Company have made sexist cracks about her platoon, The New York Times reported. But those reporting directly to her, even if skeptical at first, quickly recognized her capabilities.
Twenty-year-old Lance Cpl. Kai Segura is one of those Marines. In an interview with the Times, he recalled Hierl's speed when leading her Marines back from an exercise in California's Mojave Desert.
Infantry Marines are often leery of any new lieutenant who comes in to lead their platoons, but Hierl quickly showed they were going to have to keep up with her — not the other way around.
"She's one of us," Segura told the Times.
Hierl is one of just two women who've completed the Infantry Officer Course; 37 have attempted it.
She'll continue operating with 2/4, which includes two enlisted female infantry Marines, in Darwin until the fall. Read more about Hierl's platoon and what they've been up to on their Australian rotation here.
This story originally appeared on Military.com
Read more from Military.com
- 120 Afghan Forces, Civilians Killed in Battle with Taliban
- WWII Pilot's Remains Return Home After 7 Decades
- Pentagon Chief Mattis Defends his Reversal on Space Force
Americans' eroding trust in all forms of government has made it impossible to solve the most serious problems facing the United States today, former Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a recent article for The Atlantic.
The retired Marine Corps general laid out why the world's oldest democracy no longer seems to be able to reach a consensus on any issue, arguing that the underlying problem is politicians no longer debate: They just launch personal attacks against each other.
"We scorch our opponents with language that precludes compromise," Mattis wrote. "We brush aside the possibility that a person with whom we disagree might be right. We talk about what divides us and seldom acknowledge what unites us. Meanwhile, the docket of urgent national issues continues to grow—unaddressed and, under present circumstances, impossible to address."
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.
On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.