First Lieutenant Marina A. Hierl, who grew up in Bethlehem, is breaking down gender barriers as the first woman in the Marine Corps to lead an infantry platoon, writes Thomas Gibbons-Neff for The New York Times.
This is a historic moment for the male-dominated Marine Corps, which has aggressively opposed integrating female troops into combat.
This dynamic has been playing out for months inside Echo Company, a group of 175 Marines and Navy sailors. They were recently sent to the Northern Territory of Australia for six months of training and to act as a response force for the region.
To be awarded her command, Hierl attended the Marines Corps’ Infantry Officer Course at Quantico with 36 other women. They underwent 13 weeks of combat evaluations. Out of the 36, just two women passed and only Hierl was assigned a platoon of around 35 men to lead.
“I didn’t think there was anything better in the Marine Corps I could do,” said Hierl.
Hierl is one of Echo Company’s four platoon commanders, and while her presence was originally greeted with skepticism, she has since been quietly accepted.
“She’s one of us,” said Lance Corporal Kai Segura.
Read more about Lieutenant Marina A. Hierl in The New York Times by clicking here.