KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time, female Marine recruits will be able to train at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego beginning next month — and two of those recruits will come from Recruiting Station Kansas City.
Sgt. Natalie Dillon with Recruiting Station Kansas City said she’s in awe at the history being made.
“Female Marines didn’t even start recruit training until around the (1950s) and males had started recruit training 1901,” she said, "So, we have a history of lots of gaps in accomplishment, but it looks like we’re finally closing those gaps.”
Dillon went through her training at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, which is where all female Marines historically have been trained.
The Marine Corps was ordered to end segregated training of female recruits as part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Sixty female Marine Corps recruits were scheduled to depart for San Diego this week, where they will quarantine before training begins in February.
Two of them — Triniti Working, an Olathe North graduate, and Felicity Burnett, who graduated from Webb City High School in southwest Missouri — were recruited from Recruiting Station Kansas City.
Burnett will be the first member of her family to join the Marines.
“She kind of just came home one day and was like, 'I joined the Marines,' and she did it all on her own,” Felicity's mom, Meghan Burnett, said. “Just having my daughter graduate and make big life decisions on her own is a great, great proud mom moment for me.”
Meanwhile, Working comes from a family of Marines and her mother, Jennifer Tobin, is equally proud, especially to see her daughter help make history.
"There are still so many people who believe woman can’t lead or be as strong as men," Tobin said. "This shows them that’s not the case.”
It's a big step for equity within the Marine Corps, which begin allowing women in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1918 and were allowed to become a permanent part of the Marines in June 1948.
“It’s important that we all have equal access to everything we do, so this is just another step towards equality," Meghan Burnett said.
It's also important for Marine Corps pride and bragging rights.
“Amongst Marines, the males, they always bicker back and forth, 'Oh, Parris Island makes the best Marines.' 'No, San Diego makes the best Marines,' and that’s one of the fights females really couldn’t participate in, because Parris island is the only one that made us,” Dillon said.
Dillon spoke with Felicity Burnett and Working during their shipping validation period and asked if they had any last-minute questions for a female Marine before shipping out.
“I think around that time was when they really started to understand the gravity what was happening,” Dillon said. “The recruiters did a really good job of telling them how historically significant it was, but I got to see them four to five days before they left and things were starting to get really real for them.”
It can be jarring and difficult to break down barriers, but Meghan Burnett is confident her daughter is up to the task: "This experience for her, I think she’s going to take it head on and be strong, and be part of the guys, but be her own too."
Working and Felicity Burnett are scheduled to graduate with the rest of Lima Company in May.
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