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    Quantico Marine Embodies Fighting Spirit

    Quantico Marine Embodies Fighting Spirit

    Photo By Cpl. Michael McHale | MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia - Lance Cpl. Jillian Gerasimek, a native of...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Michael McHale 

    Marine Corps Recruiting Command       

    Women have not always been a part of the United States Marine Corps. It wasn’t until August 12, 1918 that the Secretary of Navy allowed women to enroll into the Marine Corps Reserve for clerical duty. The following day, Opha May Johnson enlisted as the first female in the Marine Corps; throughout that year, roughly 300 women entered the Corps to take over stateside clerical duties in order to free up men who were needed overseas. Roughly 25 years later, the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established and soon thereafter, on June 12th, 1948, Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, which made women a permanent part of the Marine Corps.

    2018 marks the 100th anniversary since the Marine Corps opened its doors to women who have proudly served; a role that has evolved and expanded over this illustrious period of time. All female Marines can look forward to a bright and equal future enthusiastically, while never forgetting the women who made this future possible.

    “Women have always been an all-volunteer force,” said Mary Ann Merrit, the public relations officer for the Women Marines Association. “They served during times when they were not wanted, yet never let that dampen their spirit to serve.”

    According to Merrit, the love of the Marine Corps is not gender based.

    “Those who earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor did so for various reasons, but the bottom line is that each do their jobs to the best of their abilities,” said Merrit. “Women have continued to play critical roles from World War I to present day. We will continue to face challenges, but those challenges are no different than the ones [women Marines] have overcome in the past.”

    Lance Cpl. Jillian Gerasimek, a native of Quincy, Illinois, currently serves as a field radio operator and assistant instructor at The Basic School (TBS) aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. As an assistant instructor, she is responsible for assisting and teaching newly commissioned second lieutenants the basics of radio programming through classroom and field instruction.

    “I like knowing that one day I could have contributed to saving someone’s life by teaching those [2nd lieutenants] within my field,” said Gerasimek. “They could use the knowledge that I taught them to call in a 9-line [calling in a combat injury] to get a Marine to safety.”

    Gerasimek enlisted in the Marine Corps 2 1/2 years ago after graduating high school and working for a short time as a summer intern at her local junior high school. Yearning to give more of herself, she decided to join the military.

    “I joined because I wanted to see the world and serve my country,” said Gerasimek. “I chose the Marines because they were the best. I wanted the challenge and the pride that comes with being a Marine. I also like the core values and principles they push.”

    Every generation has seen more doors opened based on the success of the Marines who served before them. Those who first blazed the trails opened the doors for women to show that they can perform the jobs as equals to any Marine.

    Throughout Marine Corps history, women have faced many hurdles. Gerasimek is no exception, her fighting spirit has driven her to adapt and overcome all battles she has faced.

    “If she [Gerasimek] makes a mistake, she goes back and does it over, and over and over again,” said Pfc. Yuliza Matute, a field radio operator and assistant instructor at TBS. “She’s very positive; she doesn’t let criticism or skepticism discourage her. She will be as confident as she needs to be in everything she does.”

    The biggest obstacle Gerasimek has had to overcome was her time at recruit training. After a fall dislocated her knee, she was placed in a holding platoon for two months until she was healthy enough to continue her training. Not long after returning to recruit training, she was dropped again for failing to qualify with her rifle on the table two course of fire. Ultimately, it took her four platoons and 23 weeks to graduate recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

    “Most people laugh at boot camp war stories, but being a recruit for almost six months was a real battle for me,” said Gersimek. “Keeping that drive to become a Marine and getting my EGA [Eagle, Globe and Anchor] is what powered me through to the end.”

    After completing recruit training, Gerasimek attended Marine Combat Training followed by her military occupational specialty (MOS) school. Once she finished her training, she received orders to Support Battalion, The Basic School, Training Command, Marine Corps Base Quantico, where she has continued to perform effectively as a field radio operator instructor.

    “Gerasimek is very adamant about what she does,” said Sgt. Alex Kupseta, a tactical transmissions instructor at TBS. “She is always trying to grow into new billets and new areas of her MOS; she attempts to get the technical proficiency of her MOS and pass it down to her junior Marines.”

    Like the female Marines who came before her, Gerasimek has endured, overcome and conquered all battles she’s faced. Now, as a junior enlisted Marine, she trains the future leaders of the Corps.

    Gerasimek is a part of the 8.3 percent of female Marines who are an integral part of the United States Marine Corps. Moving ahead, she looks forward to becoming a non-commissioned officer, potentially becoming a lead instructor of radio operation and attending college.



    Date Taken: 04.06.2018
    Date Posted: 04.06.2018 13:45
    Story ID: 272045
    Location: QUANTICO, VA, US 

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