SAN DIEGO, Calif., –
Women began serving in the United States Marine Corps in 1918 when Opha Mae Johnson became the first of approximately 300 female Marines that volunteered for temporary clerical duty. In 1948, the Women's Armed Services Integration Act was passed by Congress, permanently allowing women to join and serve in the Marine Corps.
There are two Marine Corps Recruit Depots where recruits train for a grueling 13-weeks before becoming U.S. Marines; MCRD Parris Island in South Carolina and MCRD San Diego. Males have continuously trained at both locations, but females have only trained at Parris Island. Regardless of location, recruits go through the same training and the Marine Corps has decided it’s time to train the first female recruits of MCRD San Diego.
Lindsey A. Rodolfich and Teia K. Chutaro are two of those female recruits training at MCRD San Diego.
"When I first found out they only sent females to Parris Island, I thought, 'it would be really cool if they actually had females going to the recruit depot in San Diego,” Rodolfich stated.
Females training at MCRD San Diego is a huge step forward for the Marine Corps and extending the cohesion between male and female Marines from the start. Not only is it a step for the Marine Corps as a whole, but for women such as Rodolfich and Chutaro.
"In high school, there was a lot of sexism and talk of females not being able to do what males can do,” Chutaro said. “We're going to San Diego and hiking The Reaper. You get to the top, and you earn your Eagle, Globe and Anchor. That says a lot about your character. I'll be very proud."
Along with the pride of becoming a U.S. Marine, these females will forever be engraved into Marine Corps history. Female recruits have never trained or became Marines at MCRD San Diego, but Chutaro and Rodolfich get to be one of the few that make history.
"We're making history and are speechless about it, but at the same time we're proud,” Chutaro said. “We have a lot of weight on our shoulders because we're expected to be the best group of females going. We have to prove ourselves."
Even with the excitement and responsibility of making history for women, becoming a U.S. Marine is a once in a lifetime accomplishment, in and of itself. It provides physical, spiritual and mental fortitude, along with the skills and knowledge to being a warfighter and a better citizen for the community.
"I decided to join the Marine Corps for the sense of belonging, to better myself mentally, physically and emotionally,” Chutaro expressed.
What the Marine Corps has to offer is not the only motivation for joining and becoming a Marine. For some, like Rodolfich, it’s even more personal. Rodolfich’s father passed away and has become her main motivation, pushing her to make history and become one of the first female Marines trained out of MCRD San Diego.
"My dad was the only one who supported me joining the Marine Corps,” Rodolfich said. “My dad is my main motivation now."
The Marine Corps teaches young men and women how much they are capable of by pushing them beyond what they ever imagined their bodies and minds were possible.
"I'm looking forward to overcoming self-doubt and pushing my limits because I know I can,” Rodolfich stated.
Marines are known for being honorable, courageous and committed to serving and defending the nation at the most elite level. Less than one percent of Americans are U.S. Marines, and less than 10 percent of Marines are female. Becoming a female Marine is an incredibly rare and admirable accomplishment.
"Nobody in my family has ever joined the Marine Corps, and no female in my family has ever joined the military,” Chutaro said.
Chutaro and Rodolfich were part of the delayed entry program at Recruiting Sub-Station Honolulu as part of Recruiting Station San Diego, 12th Marine Corps District, and both shipped to recruit training on Jan. 25, 2021 to make history as part of the first female and male integrated platoon training at MCRD San Diego.
"We always joked about being battle buddies,” Rodolfich expressed. “When I found out that we were actually going to ship together, I was really excited."
Chutaro and Rodolfich are currently training together at MCRD San Diego, preparing to face the Crucible, an exhausting 54hour training evolution before earning the EGA and the title of Marine. Becoming the first female Marines to graduate from MCRD San Diego will not only make themselves and their families proud, but the Marine Corps as a whole and women all over the nation as well.