A female Marine officer erased one of the final barriers surviving the the branch’s 241-year history on Monday by becoming the first woman to graduate alongside men from the Marine Corps’ infantry officer course (IOC).
The officer, who asked her identity remain private, is the first female to earn the coveted 0302 officer military occupational specialty (MOS) designation.
“I am proud of this officer and those in her class who have earned the infantry officer MOS. Marines expect and rightfully deserve competent and capable leaders, and these IOC graduates met every training requirement as they prepare for the next challenge of leading infantry Marines; ultimately, in combat,” said Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller.
The lady lieutenant completed a 13-week training course and will be attached to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton in Southern California .
Monday’s female graduate follows Marine 2nd Lt. Lillian Polatchek, who completed the Army’s Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course (ABOLC) in April. Polatchek graduated at the top of her class, ahead of 66 other students.
Initially a class of 131, the female officer was among 88 candidates who remained and earned the right to lead Marines in combat, a 67 percent graduation rate.
Opened to female candidates on an experimental basis in 2012, the Marines’ IOC has witnessed 32 prior female nominees attempt to earn the 0302 classification. During the same period, of the 978 male candidates accepted into the program, only 692 successfully completed the course, a 70 percent graduation rate.
This particular Marine officer is not alone in the ranks: She joins three female graduates of the Marines’ School of Infantry in January, all of whom joined an infantry unit.
[Stars and Stripes] [DVIDS] [Business Insider] [Marine Corps Times] [Photo courtesy ABC News]