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For the first time in nearly 100 years, San Diego Marine Corps boot camp will train women recruits

A recruit runs on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. in October.
A recruit runs at Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, S.C. Female recruits train only on the East Coast — but that will change in 2021.
(Sgt. Dana Beesley / U.S. Marine Corps)

Recruits are due to arrive in February, Marines say.

For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego will accept women for recruit training early next year, the Marine Corps said Monday.

The recruit company, designated “Lima,” will serve as a “proof of concept” to demonstrate to the Marine Corps what will be required for sustained integrated recruit training in San Diego, according to the Marines. The recruits will report to the depot Feb. 12.

“This is the first time we are able to give Marines who graduate from MCRD San Diego the same integrated experience that many of their peers at Parris Island [in South Carolina] have received already,” Brig. Gen. Ryan P. Heritage, the commanding general of the depot, said in a statement. "[This] will get us one step closer to understanding the facilities and personnel needed to make this a sustained reality.”

The Marine Corps’ plans were first reported Monday by news site Military.com.

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The Marines also announced that on Wednesday, a new class of 57 drill instructors will graduate from the depot’s first integrated Drill Instructor Course. Three women are among the graduates, and they will be among the instructors involved in training the new integrated company, said Capt. Martin Harris, a depot spokesman.

About 60 women will make up one of the six platoons in the company. The women have been told they’re bound for San Diego, Harris said.

Congress mandated last year that the Marines integrate their two boot camps, San Diego and Parris Island, within a decade. Women have been training separately on the East Coast, while San Diego has been all-male since it began training recruits in 1923. The Marines graduated their first coed recruit company at Parris Island in 2019. Since then, eight more integrated companies have graduated.

As has been the case during most of the COVID-19 pandemic, all recruits will quarantine for at least two weeks upon arrival to San Diego before beginning training, the Marines said. Recruit training in San Diego has been adjusted to accommodate social distancing and mask-wearing, and the depot is off-limits to people who do not work there.

Dyer writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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