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The Woman Marine Home Page - HERSTORY! 
A collection of stories and information about women and their history in the Marine Corps!
Do you have a story to submit? Email me at: conover9@illicom.net!


12 Aug 1918 - World War I - 305 "Reservists (Female)" were admitted into the Marine Corps to perform clerical duties, and thereby, "Free a Marine to fight."
13 Aug 1918 - Opha Mae Johnson, the first woman Marine, enlisted in Washington, D.C.
30 Jul 1919 - Major General George Barnett, Commandant, issued orders for the separation of all women from the Reserve.
7 Nov 1942 - General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant, approved the formation of the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve (USMCWR). Mrs. Ruth Cheney Streeter of Morristown, NJ, was commissioned a major in the USMCWR and sworn in as the first Director of the Women's Reserve on 29 Jan 1943. She achieved the grade of colonel prior to resigning her commission on 6 Dec 1945.
Feb 1943 - World War II - women's continuous active service began. The first enlisted class of 722 women completed training at Hunter College, NY, on 25 Apr 1943; the first officer class with 75 women graduated from training at Mount Holyoke College, MA, on 11 May 1943.
Jun 1944 - Women Reserves constituted 85 percent of the enlisted personnel on duty at Headquarters Marine Corps, and from one-half to two-thirds of the personnel manning all major posts and stations in the United States. At their peak, there were over 19,000 women, approximately the strength of a Marine Division, in wartime service in the Marine Corps.
Dec 1945 - Two-thirds of the Women Reserves had been separated or transferred to inactive status as part of the postwar demobilization. In 1946, the Marine Corps elected to retain a small nucleus of trained women to set up a postwar Reserve to avoid having to start from scratch again.
12 Jun 1948 - Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act (Public Law 625) which authorized the acceptance of women into the Regular component of the Marine Corps. Women could not exceed two percent of total service strength or hold permanent rank above lieutenant colonel. The Director of Women Marines would hold the temporary rank of colonel.
3 Nov 1948 - Colonel Katherine A. Towle, who had been the second Director of the Women's Reserve, was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve and accepted a Regular commission as a permanent lieutenant colonel. The next day she was appointed the first Director of Women Marines, with the temporary rank of colonel.
1949 - The 3rd Recruit Training Battalion was formed at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC with Captain Margaret M. Henderson as the first commanding officer. The Women Officers' Training Class was established at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in Jun 1949 under the command of Captain Elsie E. Hill.
Aug 1950 - Korean War - For the first time in history, Women Reserves were mobilized.
"W" Placed before serial number of Women Marines.
1 May 1953 - Julia Hamblet became Director of Women Marines--as a colonel. She held this post until 1 Mar 1959.
1961 - Bertha L. Peters becomes 1st SgtMaj of Women Marines.
1965 - Vietnam War - A strength increase was approved and by 1968 there were 2,700 women Marines on active duty. Opportunities expanded as well. From 1965 to 1973, women Marines carried out an increasing variety of duties both stateside and overseas. The Marine Corps also began opening up career-type formal training programs to women officers and advanced technical training to enlisted women.
18 Mar 1967 - Master Sergeant Barbara J. Dulinsky, who had volunteered for duty in Vietnam, reported to the Military Assistance Command in Saigon--the first woman Marine ordered to a combat zone. A total of 28 enlisted women and eight women officers served in Vietnam.
8 Nov 1967 - President Johnson signed into Public Law 90-130, a bill which repealed the limits on the number of women in the services, permitted permanent promotion to colonel, and provided for the temporary appointment of women to brigadier general if filling a flag rank billet. In his words, "Our Armed Forces literally could not operate effectively or efficiently without our women..."
1968 - LtCol Jenny Wrenn selected as 1st Woman Marine to attend Command & Staff College.
1973 - Groundbreaking for new woman Marine complex at Parris Island.
1974 - The Commandant approved a change in policy permitting the assignment of women to specified rear echelon elements of the Fleet Marine Force, but they could not be deployed with assault units or units likely to become engaged in combat.
1975 - The Marine Corps approved the assignment of women to all occupational fields except infantry, artillery, armor, and pilot/air crew.
CMC authorizes women to wear camouflage utility uniforms under restricted conditions.
www.armbandreunion.com1977 - The first two Women Marines in MP Co HQBN 2d Mar Div CLNC - Kim Thomas and Vicki Smith (Johnson).
30 Jun 1977 - The Office of the Director of Women Marines was disestablished.
11 May 1978 - Colonel Margaret A. Brewer was appointed to a general officer's billet as Director of Information, with the rank of brigadier general, thereby becoming the first women general officer in the history of the Marine Corps.
Feb 1985 - Colonel Gail M. Reals became the first women selected by a board of general officers to be advanced to brigadier general.
1985 - Women officers authorized to possess sword and train in its use.
1985-1986 Women required to qualify with the M16A1 rifle.
1990-1991 - Approximately 1,000 women Marines deployed to Southwest Asia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Jun 1992 - Brigadier General Carol A. Mutter assumed command of the 3rd Force Service Support Group, Okinawa, becoming the first women to command a Fleet Marine Force unit at the flag level.
23 Jul 1993 - 2nd Lieutenant Sarah Deal became the first woman Marine selected for Naval aviation training. She received her wings on 21 Apr 1995 and is now serving as a CH-53E pilot.
Jun 1994 - Brigadier General Mutter became the first woman Major General in the Marine Corps and the senior woman on active duty in the armed services.
1 Oct 1994 - Restrictions on women's assignments were reduced to only units whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.
1996 - First female graduates of DI school to be issued the "smokey" cover. The scarlet shoulder cord was retired.
First women's recruit training plt to go through crucible.
First time female recruits at Parris Island train with pugil sticks and first time female recruits participate in combat hitting skills training at PI.
Last emblem ceremony held in the courtyard of 4th recruit training bn, PI.
Jul 1996 - Lieutenant General Mutter became the second woman in the history of the armed services and the first woman Marine to wear three stars. She assumed duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
1997 - 1st group of women Marines complete male/female integrated Marine Combat Training Course at Camp Geiger, NC, with LCpl Melissa Ohm as honor graduate.

MARINE'S ILLNESS DOESN'T SICKEN HER SPIRIT, DEDICATION

By Sgt. Amy R. Shope

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Sept. 9, 1999) -- Sergeant Claudia Puebla has spent the last nine years trying to be better than her male counterparts to survive in the Marine Corps. Soon, Puebla - who has battled cancer for years and now faces other health problems - will find out if she gets to keep competing at something she loves, namely, being a Marine.

She hasn't thrown in the towel yet. "I know I can conquer anything I put my mind to. I'm not done yet."

The small-framed brunette was born in Mexico. At age 6, she moved to East Los Angeles with her parents, two younger sisters and brother. Puebla's family lived in a small apartment with no bedrooms most of her life. Her father worked long hours to support them. He barely spoke English and people took advantage of him. "He was paid below minimum wage," she said.

She grew up in a poor, gang-infested neighborhood and learned how to survive. "Basically, everywhere I went there were bad examples like drugs and weapons," she said with a fixed gaze as though seeing the violence. "I had to get tough to survive there."

Her survival techniques finally caught up with her. She was kicked out of high school for fighting and transferred to a school two hours away.

Her fighting didn't stop. She had to fight her way to the bus stop and back home again. Her only safety was in school. Her father taught her how to take care of herself. He taught her how to change a tire, play softball and box. "My mom and dad tried to take care of us the best they could," she said. "I really loved them for that."

Her parents had some tough times but got through them together. "They taught me never to give up," she said.

Her father also taught her to work hard and never depend on anyone else. Taking that advice to heart, she excelled in her new school. "I graduated valedictorian and received a scholarship to the University of Southern California."

But she turned it down and went for what she really wanted. "I just had to get as far away from there as possible," she said. "My parents thought I was making a mistake because I was young and a female. But as soon as I saw a Marine Corps commercial, I knew that's what I wanted."

As the oldest girl in the family, she said she felt the need to always prove something. "Not necessarily to my family but to myself. My brother and I were always very close, and I wanted him to have at least one good example."

Although she learned from her father to be tough, he had mixed feelings about her joining the Marine Corps. "The rest of the males in my family thought a girl couldn't make it in the Corps. They still had the old Mexican mentality where women stayed home and took care of the family."

Living in that atmosphere was out of the question. "I was tired of walking down the street and having to be careful of gang members. I wanted a better life. "I knew I could do anything I set my mind to. I learned that from my mother."

She graduated from boot camp Jan. 4, 1990 and was called a United States Marine. It was a new way of life she had to get used to. "I still had the same bad attitude in a different environment."

She was used to being in charge. As a lance corporal, she had to take orders. "But I learned to love the Marine Corps and what it was giving me. I lacked discipline growing up and I finally came to the realization that I needed it."

Anything the Marine Corps had to offer, she liked. "I applied for citizenship, took college classes, competed in weight training and in a crew-served weapons competitions."

The more she succeeded, the more she wanted. "I went to noncommissioned officers school, started drilling, going on extra duties and learning how to lead Marines."

She encountered another obstacle, though - a bout with cancer in 1993. She underwent treatment and surgery, which laid her up for several months. But she came back strong.

After she recovered, she decided to do another tour in Okinawa, where she met Frank Puebla, also a Marine, whom she later married. While in Okinawa, she received her U.S. citizenship and continued climbing the Marine Corps ladder. Her success in the Marine Corps prompted her brother to join, too.

When she changed duty stations, she went after her goal - becoming an officer. But during her final screening physical, she found out she was pregnant. Then, her cancer returned. Although the doctors could track it, they couldn't treat it while she was pregnant.

At 7-1/2 months pregnant, she went into preterm labor and was put on bed rest. Meanwhile, her husband was working long hours as a drill instructor in San Diego. Her family moved to Oceanside to help take care of her. "Frank thought it was a great idea to have my parents here since he was working so much. "I was worried for my baby's life. The cancer was advancing."

She gave birth to a healthy baby girl July 4 - two weeks late. Having a baby changed her life dramatically. "It was all different now. I had to concentrate on someone else besides myself."

Radiation therapy sent the cancer into remission. Again, she came back fighting. She worked even harder to get back up with her peers. "It's important, being a female, to do twice as good to be treated as equal," she said.

She started her MECEP package again last year and was ready to make the change. "Being an NCO, I feel like I have a great input on the future of the Marine Corps. Being an officer, I believe that I would have an even bigger one."

But once again, her dream was shot down. In August 1998, shortly after re-enlisting, she was diagnosed with advanced diabetes and hyperthyroidism. "I am so scared," she said, her eyes tearing, "My biggest fear in life is not being around to watch my daughter grow up and grow old with my husband. My family is the most important thing to me."

Her husband, now a staff sergeant at Supply Battalion, supports her in all she does. "It will be hard if I get out and he's still in," she said. "We will always be a Marine Corps family. He is an outstanding Marine, and I will always support him. "I always knew I could be a Marine today and gone tomorrow. I couldn't imagine one day not being able to put on my uniform again."

Right now, her package is before a medical board. "I won't be able to re-enlist unless my diabetes comes under control. "When I heard the words that I might have to get out from a doctor, I thought it was the end of my world."

The prospect of leaving hasn't changed the Marine she is today, she said. "The Marine Corps is what you make of it," she said with a smile. "It's been good to me, and I give it everything I have."


FEMALE SHOOTER MAKES MARINE CORPS HISTORY

By Cpl. Bob Sealy

FILE PHOTOFLEET COMBAT TRAINING CENTER, DAM NECK, Virginia Beach, Va. (Oct. 15, 1999) -- Rays of morning sunlight glint off of the dew-soaked grass as a Marine confidently strides up to the firing line. She drops into the prone position and quickly slides the butt of her rifle into her shoulder. Pressing her cheek firmly against the smooth, black stock of the weapon, she peers intently through the sights waiting for a target to appear.

These actions are familiar to all Marines, but few can claim a page in Marine Corps history based on their shooting ability. Sgt. Kelly L. Anderson, 27, has done exactly that. She is the first, and only, female to successfully complete Designated Marksman School at Fleet Combat Training Center Dam Neck, Virginia. She used her skills to coach Marines through the elite Designated Marksman School, as well as standard Marine Corps rifle and pistol qualifications, as an instructor.

A Designated Marksman, or DM, is highly-trained in marksmanship and observation. Gathering and reporting intelligence are the bread and butter of the job. As well, and under command of legitimate authority, they deliver the precision fire that hallmarks a DM. Although a DM can be called upon to fire at a target from great distances, they are not to be confused with Marine Corps snipers. Snipers are given a mission and then work much more autonomously in combat situations, according to Anderson.

"I like to be physical. This suits me better than sitting behind a desk," said Anderson. The Sioux City, Iowa native joined the Marine Corps in 1995. After I got out (of the Navy), I really missed the military, so I thought I'd see what the Marine Corps had to offer, Anderson explained. Military police is Anderson's primary military occupational specialty. She said she longed for a more physically-challenging job while working in aviation electronics in the Navy.

The DM billet is open only to Marines serving in a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team or Marine Corps Security Force Battalion. Because of her background in military law enforcement, Anderson received orders to Dam Neck rifle range when she requested to be co-located with her husband, Garland, who is stationed aboard the USS George Washington in Norfolk, Va.

To become a DM, eligible Marines must first qualify as an expert with the M-16A2 service rifle. During DM School, Marines are taught to fire the M-14, a 7.62 mm, bolt-action rifle. A series of precision shots must be made with the M-14 to qualify. Marines must fire a total of 29 rounds, with a 24 or more scoring as hits. From 100 meters, DM hopefuls must strike a three-inch circle, a "head shot", on the target to score a hit. From the two-hundred and five-hundred-meter lines, rounds must strike six and nine inch circles respectively to count as hits. The students are also required to take several shots from a tower and are given a stress test, where they must fire at targets with a limited exposure of three seconds.

FILE PHOTOStudents at DM School also learn observation tactics. Describing a crisis scene down to the last detail is crucial when relaying information back to the rear, according to Anderson. The students are paired up and progress through the school as a team. "You never go anywhere without your partner," said Anderson. She and her partner finished as the top team in her class. This is how DM?s operate in real-world environments also. Partners use binoculars and other tools to help observe. "If you keep your eye in that scope for too long, pretty soon you can't hold your other eye closed anymore," explained Anderson.

She is fast approaching her end of active service in December and does not plan to re-enlist. "I want to be a stay-at-home mom," Anderson explained. She is expecting her second child. She has a seven-year-old daughter and is looking forward to more time with her children. "I'd like to stay in the reserves, though." she said.


EIGHTEEN MARINES WERE SELECTED FOR THE 1ST ALL-MARINE WOMEN'S SOCCER TEAM

socc3.jpg All-Marine Women's Soccer Team. Front row L to R are: Jennifer Farina, Irma Mosqueda, Michelle Crofts, Jessica Lujick, Patty Bacon, Brianna Vanwhy, Jennifer Monteiro-Brown, Middle row: Ronnie Green, Diana Staneszewski, Angelina Marrero, Monica Mendez, Kasey Boyd, Trina Koufie, Samar Spinelli Back Row: Karen Sayers, Jennifer Katz, Jacquellyn Cupples, Victoria Cronsell, Bobbie Ludwig, Brian Hickerson, Jimmie Woods Jr.

Photo by Courtesy of LCpl. Jennifer Katz


By Cpl. Bob Sealy

MARINE CORPS SECURITY FORCE BATTALION NORFOLK, Va. (Oct. 18, 1999) -- A Marine stationed at Marine Corps Security Force Battalion in Norfolk was sweating it out recently during the All Armed Forces Soccer Tournament. Lance Cpl. Jennifer Katz, a service record book clerk, traveled to Parris Island, S.C. in September to tryout for the Women's All-Marine Soccer Team. This is the first year the Marine Corps has had a women's soccer team, and Lance Cpl. Katz jumped at the chance to be a part of it.

With the popularity of women's soccer soaring with stars like Mia Hamm drawing public attention to World Cup Women's matches, it is clear that this is not just a passing fad. The Marine Corps team was certainly not lacking eager women ready to take the field. From a pool of 25 hopefuls, 18 women were selected to represent the Marine Corps. These 18 women ran and kicked their way through two grueling practice sessions per day to prepare for the championship tournament, according to Katz.

From mid-September through October 2, the team trained at Parris Island. "It was a lot of hard work, but we had time off at the end of the day to relax some," said Katz. The determination to practice was very apparent when the team didn't even slow down for Hurricane Floyd.

While all other Parris Island personnel were evacuating to Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Georgia, the soccer players headed for Aiken, S.C. "We went to Aiken because they had soccer fields available to use," Katz said. The athletic 20-year-old has played soccer off and on since she was in the fourth grade. "Playing is the best part! If I could do this everyday of my life, I would," she exclaimed.

The team traveled to Millington, Tenn. to play in the All Armed Forces Tournament that took place Oct. 3-10. The Air Force team won 1st place with the Army and Navy coming in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Head Coach Brian Hickerson, a Marine Sgt., is confident the team will do better next season. "They (players) did an outstanding job considering the short amount of time we had to train together," said Hickerson.

He was pleased with the team as a whole. "It was like we were all family. Hopefully we'll have some of the same people tryout again next year," Hickerson said. The 27-year-old was selected as head coach after submitting a resume' listing his 22 years of soccer experience. "I'd love to do this again next year," he said. "I think everyone had a really good time."

Katz, a Plantation, Fla. native, said she thought the team did well considering this was their first season. "We have a lot of good individual players. I wish we could've practiced together longer than we did," she said. Katz fine-tuned her soccer skills with the South Plantation High School team before joining the Marine Corps. Katz is looking forward to next season also. "I'll definitely tryout again next year," she said. "I might even shoot for the assistant coach spot!"


MARINE HONORED AS OKLAHOMA FEMALE VETERAN OF THE YEAR

By Staff Sgt. William B. Crews,
Marketing/Public Affairs Representative

LAWTON, Okla. (Dec. 3, 1999) -- The Oklahoma Female Veteran of the Year for 1999 is Sgt. Maj. Pamela Johnson Bloustine, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 41, located in Ft. Worth, Texas, and president, of the Women Marines Association Heartland Chapter, in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The award is sponsored by the Department of Veteran Affairs and was presented to Bloustine during the Oklahoma Women Veteran's appreciation day activities held in Lawton, Okla.

Bloustine and her fellow Women Marine Association members celebrated her award at Recruiting Station Oklahoma City's Marine Corps Ball celebration.

Bloustine is only the second Marine to be honored in the history of the program. In 1995, she joined the WMA and was elected chapter president in 1996. Because of her interest the Oklahoma veteran community, the Heartland Chapter went from meeting twice a year to participating in a variety of veteran activities within the Oklahoma City area and hosting a February luncheon.

Bloustine has been instrumental in raising funds to purchase wheelchairs for the VA Hospital. This year, she also accepted a challenge on behalf of the chapter and co-chaired the annual Memorial Day service held at the Veteran's Memorial in Oklahoma City.

The Veteran's Memorial experienced two "firsts" from the event. It was the first time a women's veteran organization hosted the program, and the first time the Governor of Oklahoma, at Bloustine's request, participated since the memorial was established in 1988.

Bloustine has also cultivated a relationship with the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City. She ensures the cadets are involved and gives them exposure to military ceremonies and functions. At the end of their school year, the chapter presents the top senior cadet with a cash award.

The Heartland Chapter has been represented by Bloustine in the Race for the Cure, a charitable run/walk that is held every September to raise funds to help find a cure for breast cancer.

"I feel it says something about Pam Bloustine when I say that when she joined WMA and became President of the Heartland Chapter, she didn't know anything about veterans' affairs in the area, having been busy managing the business she co-owns with her husband. And the Heartland Chapter wasn't even a name on a paper; they were just OK-2, the second WMA chapter in," Metzger said.

At the 1998 WMA National Convention, the Heartland Chapter brought home first place awards in chapter achievement in two separate categories, a 1st place award in the newsletter competition, a 3rd Place award for their chapter history book, and the Overall Outstanding Chapter, the most prestigious award of all -- the Ruth and Dick Broe Award.

"This achievement brought a great deal of recognition to Oklahoma," Metzger said.

The WMA is a non-profit, non-political veterans association comprised of women who have served or are serving honorably in the United States Marine Corps, regular or reserve components. It is the only veterans association for and about women Marines.

www.inc.com/users/wma1.html


WOMEN IN THE MILITARY

by SwimKO2003@aol.com
December 10, 1999

Can you remember what its like to be 5 years old? Tommy Esmond is 5 years old and has Down syndrome, or mental retardation. He wanted to join a play group with his friends in it more than anything else in the world. His mom wasn't so sure, but reluctantly signed him up. However, the manager of the day care said he couldn't join because he had downsyndrome. Tommy is different, but still able to do the tasks the other children do in the play group. Women in the military are the same way. They are different from the men, but still able to do the same tasks, yet the military will not allow them to go to combat. I'm trying to get you all to see that women should be allowed to fight if they meet the requirements and want to. One reason for this is because they have succeeded in combat before. Also, one reason women can't fight is so they will be protected, but the degree to which women are protected is not in our hands. Thirdly, women are trained for combat, so it makes sense that they should be able to go to combat.

Certain combat exclusion laws don't allow women in the military to go to combat. Therefore, if you are thinking of joining the military, whether you are male or female, this affects you. Some males don't think women should be allowed to go to combat and do not want to be on the battle field with women, and if you are a female you may wish to go to combat, but not have the chance. One reason women should be allowed to go to combat is because they have defended themselves and succeeded before. In Operation Just Cause in 1989 there were more than 160 American women in the invading forces. They found themselves in dangerous combat situations, but their bravery and skill focused the public attention on the role of women in combat. In this situation, none of the women were injured or killed in the fighting. Another time something like this happened was when the US attacked Iraq in 1991. Thousands of female soldiers were stationed in the Persian Gulf and many found themselves under attack. Only 5 were killed by enemy fire, and 2 others were taken to prison by the Iraqis. Also, in Somalia one woman soldier was with a tiny unit, consisting of 6 other women. She was there for the month of October and lived through daily mortar attacks, survived 8 ambushes, and watched her best friend die right before her eyes. Not only that, but the hardest part, she says, has been to get the vets or anyone else to take her seriously. To do so, she had to carry her medal orders and newspaper clippings of her award ceremonies. This seems to help support one of David L Bender's points in his book, The American Military Opposing View Points, that states feminists are increasingly aware that militarism is really an extreme form of sexism.

Another reason women should be allowed to fight if they want to is because not fighting does not ensure any more protection. The combat exclusion laws specifically state that women cannot fly aircraft in combat situations. As stated in an article from the G.A.O. Journal by Beverly Ann Bendekey, the restriction of women from F-16s seems to be designed to protect women, but land-based missiles would be targets in the event of war as well. Also, the degree to which a woman is protected in either situation doesn't only depend on the U.S. capabilities, but on the enemies as well, and we have no control over that. It is hard to define a context in which anyone in today's military can be protected from the risks and dangers of war. Furthermore, not only are military personnel at risk during war, but the incident in Panama proved that civilians are at as much risk as military personnel.

The third reason women should be allowed to go to combat is because they are trained for it. The combat exclusion laws may have come about because some think a woman's ability to fight is questionable. In the Army and Marine Corps, this would make sense because some members are expected to be able to engage in hand-to-hand combat, which requires a great deal of physical strength. However, the laws explicitly close aircraft and ships, where there would be little, if any dispute about a woman's capabilities. Also, the Marine Corps now includes defensive combat in basic training for women. This makes you wonder why, if women can be trained for defensive combat, they cannot also be trained for offensive combat. Not only are women now receiving combat training, but they are also graduating from many formally male-only special skills schools. In the Fleet Marine Force, they are showing up in nontraditional jobs and previously restricted units and deploying shipboard.

Knowing all this, doesn't it make you wonder why women cannot fight in combat if they are capable of doing so? Not only are they capable, which they have already proven, but they are also trained for it, and protection is about the same as what they are doing now. Back to Tommy, the 5 year-old, you probably think that he should not be kept out of the play group because he has Down sydrome, something he cannot help. Eventually, after his parents fought back, he was allowed in. In the same way, we need to fight for women's rights in the military, so they will be allowed to go to combat, or do anything else they desire. With more women joining the military, this means a greater portion of the military personnel are barred from combat than in previous years. Hopefully, with your support we can change that.


"SEMPER FI" PRODUCERS CAPTURED BY RECRUIT TRAINING

submitted by Susan Hendrickson

Carolina (SC) Morning News - April 13, 2000

Spielberg's Production Company Gears Up For Shooting On Parris Island

BEAUFORT: Film representatives say they're impressed with what it takes to make a Marine.

By Lolita Huckaby, Carolina Morning News

Hollywood has once again come to Beaufort, or more specifically, Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, where the process of making Marines will soon be the subject of a pilot for NBC's newest military drama series.

Production officials with "Semper Fi" met with the media Wednesday to introduce the stars of the new show and discuss the production schedule which begins Sunday.

A project of NBC Studios and Dreamworks Television, the series will focus on the lives of young male and female Marines as they proceed through boot camp and into their tours of duty.

Producer Jim Uhls said Dreamworks creator Steven Spielberg wanted to do a show about young Marines and their place in today's military after making his award-winning "Saving Private Ryan."

"We're just pleased to be able to bring the magic of what happens at Parris Island to the screen," he said.

Executive producer and director Michael Watkins said, "It's extremely exciting to be able to come to Parris Island to tell the story of what happens here in the creation of honorable young men and women."

Watkins, whose credits include co-producer of "The X-Files" and "NYPD Blue," said that since arriving at Parris Island he'd become "enamored" with the Corps' traditions and the training process.

"I think it's already been very much a growth process for most of us," he said.

The seven young actors and actresses around which the series revolves agreed.

"My respect for the Marine Corps and what goes on here has gone up 10,000 percent since I got here," said Michael Pena, who will play one of the recruits, Lupe Cepeda.

"They don't make men and women, they make Marines."

Pena, whose credits include NBC's "Profiler" and "NYPD Blue," is joined on the cast by Vicellous Reon Shannon, whose credits include a starring role in "The Hurricane" opposite Denzel Washington; Scott Bairstow from "Party of Five" and "The X-Files"; Steve Burton, who won a daytime Emmy Award for his Jason Quartermaine on "General Hospital"; Bianca Kajlich from the movie, "10 Things I Hate About You"; Alex Burns, whose credits include modeling for Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY; and Tammy Townsend, who has played on "Felicity" and "Walker, Texas Ranger."

While the actors have had less than two weeks to experience some of what recruits learn in 12 weeks, they'll be receiving off-set instruction from three Parris Island drill instructors, Gunnery Sgts. Ondra Armstead and Ann Hubbard and Staff Sgt. Joseph Reconnu.

The three declared the actors willing candidates.

"We've been very much impressed with their interest in making sure things were done correctly," said Armstead.

The Marine Corps worked with the producers during the script-writing phase of the project and welcomes the film-makers to the depot, according to spokesman Maj. Bryan Salas.

"Parris Island promises only one thing, the opportunity to be a Marine, and we feel the transformation of young Americans into Marines is a compelling story which we are glad to share," he said.

Salas said routine training of the approximate 5,000 recruits at Parris Island will not be interrupted by the film schedule.

"They probably won't even know there's filming taking place," he said.

The production company has set up shop in a vacant barracks of the Third Battalion with a schedule that calls for work to be concluded at Parris Island by late May. After that, shooting will continue in other locations, including Camp Pendleton, Calif., the producers said. The filming at Parris Island is not open to the public, officials said.

When scouting locations, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was also considered but for accuracy, Parris Island was chosen for the recruit training scenes, said Watkins.

"We wanted to go for accuracy and since Parris Island trains both men and women, this was the place to be," he said. "Besides, Parris Island is legendary."

All local shooting will take place on the depot but members of the production staff are staying in town, which increases the economic impact made by the production on the community, said Jeff Monk with the S.C. Film Office.

"Right now, we don't know what that dollar impact will be but it's safe to say one-third of the production budget goes into the local economy," he said.

Last year, the state Secretary of Commerce office estimated the economic impact of film productions in South Carolina at $115.5 million.

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