Male Marines graduate from historically all-female boot camp training battalion for first time

Marine Corps recruits Parris Island
US Marines with Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, graduate recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, March 26 2021.

  • Four male platoons recently graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island as part of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion.
  • Until now, that battalion only trained women, and the change shows that all recruits are held to the same standards, the Corps said.
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Four male platoons graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina as part of a battalion that – until now – has trained only women.

Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, completed boot camp with four male and two female platoons, the Marine Corps announced Wednesday. Coed companies have been training at Parris Island since 2019, but this was the first time men have been assigned to 4th Recruit Training Battalion.

It was also the first time male drill instructors were assigned to the historically all-female battalion.

Marine recruits training at Parris Island were for decades segregated by gender, with women traditionally assigned solely to 4th Recruit Training Battalion. Papa Company completed their training and graduated from boot camp March 26.

The Marine Corps has since begun training Parris Island’s 15th coed company, said Capt. Bryan McDonnell, a spokesman at the depot.

Capt. Adan Rivera, the company commander, said in a Marine Corps news release that assigning men to 4th Battalion demonstrates that recruits are held to the same standards, regardless of gender.

When a male recruit was told he’d be making history after being assigned to 4th Battalion, he said he didn’t think “anybody grasped what was going on.”

“We’re here to train, let’s train,” he said in the release.

Both female and male recruits have now been assigned to all four of Parris Island’s recruit training battalions.

McDonnell said the 4th Recruit Training Battalion squad bay is smaller than some of the newer living facilities at Parris Island. The Marine Corps tends to see more recruits reporting to boot camp in the summer months following high-school graduations.

With fewer arriving in the winter months, McDonnell said they had the right number of male and female trainees to assign them to that battalion.

Men and women training in coed companies live in the same barracks, but have separate squad bays with different sleeping and bathing facilities. Training that occurs outside the squad bays is done together.

Platoons are still assigned drill instructors of the same gender as their recruits.

The men with 4th Battalion aren’t the only Marine recruits to make history at boot camp this year. Women are currently training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in coed companies for the first time in that base’s 100-year history.

The 2020 defense authorization bill directed the Marine Corps to make both of its entry-level training sites coed. The service was given five years to make training coed at Parris Island and eight years at San Diego.

– Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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