MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., - Marines are all trained to be riflemen from the beginning of recruit training, and it takes talented instructors to teach rifle fundamentals. One Marine at Edson Range holds the honor of being the second female to hold this important position, in the historically male dominant role.
Sgt. Erin M. Fay, primary marksmanship instructor, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, reserves her place as the second female Marine to become a PMI on the west coast.
Fay attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., in October 2007 and then attended Marine Combat Training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Following MCT, she continued her training for her military occupational specialty as an administration specialist at Camp Johnson, N.C.
Upon graduation, she reported to her first duty station at MCRD Parris Island where she worked for just more than three years at the depot’s Installation Personnel Administration Center.
“In 2010 I was promoted to corporal,” said Fay, a native of Kissimmee, Fla. “I then decided to re-enlist and was transferred to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364.”
The squadron is located at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., and she was there for 16 months when she deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. She spent eight months with the MEU, visiting six different places that included Thailand, Djibouti, Dubai, Hong Kong, Hawaii and Jordan.
After her deployment, Fay received orders to be a range coach at Edson Range at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Following her time as a coach, Fay was selected to be in the Combat Marksmanship Trainer Course where she graduated as the honor graduate in June 2014.
“During the CMTC, we learned teach backs, which is teaching the class what you are going to teach the recruits, working down range and how to set a range up, working with the coaches course and giving them some of their test and pistol teach backs,” said 25-year old Fay.
Normally after completing the course, Marines move on to be a block non-commissioned officer, which is a Marine in charge of the range coaches. Instead, she was selected to attend to PMI course.
A PMI is s Marine Corps instructor who teaches recruits the basic fundamentals of marksmanship during their rifle training. For one week, recruits are taught the basic functions of the rifle and the techniques it takes to fire it successfully. They learn by attending classes that include proper breathing and weapons safety rules, then putting the information to use in practical application by dry firing or ‘snapping in’. The PMI’s ultimate goal is to ensure recruits qualify the following week when they conduct their live fire qualification.
Fay explained that she would have never thought she would be in the position she is today and enjoys what she is doing, but she is also humble about being only the second female to be in this position.
“Gender does not matter when it comes to a job, as long as you know what to do and you can successfully complete the mission,” said Fay.
After her time is complete as a PMI, Fay hopes to be a recruiter and then would like to return to the administration school as an instructor.