Leading an entire infantry platoon in the U.S. Marines is no easy feat. Platoon commanders are responsible for all Marines within their platoon. They must delegate tasks, provide guidance, ensure communications and more. Up until now, however, all infantry platoon commanders in the Marines have been men. But that’s about to change, as the Marines recently announced the first female infantry platoon commander.
According to a report by The New York Times, First Lt. Marina A. Hier will become the first woman to ever lead an infantry platoon in the Marines. The 24-year-old Pennsylvania native
So, what’s next for First Lt. Hierl? Along with three other platoon commanders and the entire Echo company — consisting of about 175 Marines and sailors — she’s been sent to Australia where she will train for six months. Echo company is a division of the Marines that’s responsible for U.S. military activities in the Pacific. While in training, First Lt. Hierl will command a platoon of roughly three dozen Marines.
When speaking about her groundbreaking promotion, First Lt. Hierl explained that she’d always wanted to lead a platoon, and that the Marines was the perfect fit. “I wanted to lead a platoon,” said First Lt. Hierl during an interview with 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 New York Times report reveals that First Lt. Hierl had decided to become a Marine while she was still in high school. After talking to a recruiter, however, she decided to wait until she graduated college. It’s safe to say this was a smart move because she’s now the first female infantry platoon commander in the Marines.
Of course, this is a monumental milestone for the Marines. In nearly two and a half centuries — yes, the Marines are that old — the Marines have never had a female infantry platoon commander. In 2016, all branches of the U.S. military, including the Marines, opened its combat roles for women, thereby paving the way for women to enlist as commanders. It wasn’t until this year, however, when First Lt. Hierl became the first woman to receive this accolade. While there’s no way to tell what’s in store for the future, it’s likely that other women will follow suit by enlisting in combat roles for the Marines and other branches of the military.