‘I wanted to be part of a group of people that would be willing to die for each other,’ says First Lieutenant Marina Hierl
A 24-year-old has become the first ever woman to lead an infantry platoon in the US Marines. First Lieutenant Marina Hierl has 35 male soldiers under her command in the Third Platoon of 4th Echo Company. Her promotion to the position comes just a year after she became one of only two women to ever pass through the force’s famously tough 13-week infantry officer course. Some 37 females have previously attempted it.
“I wanted to lead a platoon,” First Lt Hierl told The New York Times. “I didn’t think there was anything better in the Marine Corps I could do…I wanted to do something important with my life. I wanted to be part of a group of people that would be willing to die for each other.”
The Pennsylvania-native first became interested in joining the military after a meeting with a recruiting officer while at school, the paper reports. After studying at the University of Southern California and following the lifting of a ban on women in combat roles in 2015, she applied to become an officer.
Now, based at Camp Pendleton, also in California, she’s currently leading her platoon on six months of training exercises in Northern Australia. Her commanding officer, Captain Neal T Jones, praised her attitude and strength.
“If you’re the first to do something, that implies you have so many positive traits,” he said. “And that’s not always the case when it comes to every lieutenant — including myself.”
Lance Corporal Kai Segura, 20, is among the soldiers in her platoon. He admitted there was scepticism among some troops at first but said First Lt Hierl had won over any doubters. “She’s one of us,” he said.
Despite growing opportunities, the US military remains hugely male-dominated with women making up just 15 per cent of 1.3 million troops. Of 184,473 Marines, only 15,885 are women, and only 80 of those serve in combat roles.