First female Marine students arrived at SOI-West
By Cpl. Andre Heath, Marine Corps Installations West
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The first female Marine students arrived at School of Infantry-West (SOI-W) to begin the first phase of Marine Combat Training (MCT) on Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 6, 2018.
This marks the first male-female integrated Marine Combat Training Company on the West Coast.
“It is important, one team one fight, at the end of the day it’s to show the Marine Corps can produce [Marines] regardless of gender and complete any mission.” Said Sgt. Ambar Gonzalez, a combat instructor with Lima Company, SOI-West.
Prior to the West Coast’s integration, female Marines attended MCT training exclusively at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina remains the only depot available for females to attend basic training.
“The Marine Corps has trained all entry-level female Marines, both boot camp at Parris Island and Marine Combat Training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.” said Lt. Col. Dennis L. Hager II, Headquarter and Support Battalion commander. “Starting today, we took 40 of the women from the western regional recruiting offices, and brought them here to Camp Pendleton.”
An additional benefit of the integration is providing families from the West Coast opportunity to see their Marines graduate.
“If families had wanted to observe their daughter from boot camp, or any entry level training school they would have to travel across the country,’ said Hager. “These students are going to have the unique ability to have their families observe their graduation from MCT, from the local area where they came from.”
Marine Combat Training consists of a 29-day course where entry-level Marines in non-infantry related Military Occupational Specialties are taught the basic skills needed to function in a combat environment. Upon completion of MCT, every Marine will have the knowledge and ability to deploy and operate as a basic rifleman.