The United States Marine Corps has its First-Ever Female Infantry Platoon Commander

The United States Marine Corps has announced its first-ever female infantry platoon commander. First Lt. Marina A. Hierl will assume the command of 35 soldiers in Echo Company. Lt. Marina is the first female to lead a Marine infantry platoon in the entirety of the Corps’ 243 year history.

Echo Company is made up of 175 Marines and sailors. The group is currently stationed in Australia and responsible for rapid response in the Pacific region.

“Hierl is a 24-year-old woman from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” The Daily Mail reports. “As a teen, she worked on a local horse farm. Before graduating high school, she decided to enlist in the Marines because the recruited for the Corps made it ‘sound good’,” she told reporters.

“I wanted to do something important with my life,” she said. “I wanted to be part of a group of people that would be willing to die for each other.”

Her recruitment officer advised her to attend college, then join the Corps. Hierl  took the advice and went to University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

When she joined the Marines, she knew what she wanted to do. “I wanted to lead a platoon,” she said. “I didn’t think there was anything better in the Marine Corps I could do.”

Hierl completed the 13-week infantry officer course at Quantico, Virginia. To date, 37 women have attempted the course. Hierl is one of two who have completed the course.

Capt. Neal Jones, commanding officer of Echo Company, asked for Hierl to be assigned to his unit.

“If you’re the first to do something, that implies you have so many positive traits,” Jones said. “And that’s not always the case when it comes to every lieutenant — including myself.”

In the last few years, more women have enlisted in the Marines. The numbers are higher in other branches. The Department of Defense reports that 15 percent of our 1.3 million active duty troops are female.