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    Marine officer reflects on her 25 years of service

    Marine officer reflects on her 25 years of service

    Photo By Staff Sgt. James Richardson | Col. Mary Jo MacGregor, the former chief of staff for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing...... read more read more



    Story by Pfc. Sean Dennison 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - In 1986, when Col. Mary Jo MacGregor was commissioned, women represented only four percent of U.S. Marines.

    “I’m on my third combat deployment, which was unthinkable early in my career,” said MacGregor, chief of staff for 2nd MAW (Fwd.) and Waukesha, Wis., native. “There were a lot of restrictions on the type of units we could be in and the type of jobs we could be in.”

    Today, women are able to serve in more than 90 percent of military occupational specialties in the Marine Corps.

    Units such as female engagement teams, which serve alongside infantry units providing a link between Afghanistan’s women and the NATO International Security Assistance Force troops, spotlight the progress female Marines have made, as well as their direct impact on the war in Afghanistan.

    “I came into the Corps at a time when there were so many opportunities, and even now we’re pushing the envelope on combat arms,” said Cpl. Aine Feaser, who serves with MacGregor as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force planning specialist with 2nd MAW (Fwd.), and Tampa, Fla., native.

    MacGregor and Feaser represent different generations of Marines, but both stand as testament to the ground female Marines have covered since Opha Mae Johnson was the first woman to enlist into the Corps in 1918.

    “We collectively have worked so hard to attain those opportunities,” said MacGregor, who cited positions women in the Corps now hold ranging from helicopter pilots to commanding generals as proof of the distance they’ve covered since women were first allowed to enlist. “The women who came before us worked so hard to open doors that had no doorknobs.”

    MacGregor, who has 25 years of service, said she has witnessed changes for women in the Marine Corps, and in the Corps itself.

    “The men and women coming in today are higher quality,” said MacGregor. “When you’re in an organization that allows people to serve, you’re going to have generational differences. If there are generational differences in society, it’s going to echo in an all-volunteer force.

    “I think younger Marines come in expecting to deploy,” said MacGregor. “That is a change from when I first came in during peacetime.”

    For Feaser, the opportunity to serve her country in a combat zone is a goal she has modeled her career around.

    “I had never envisioned myself clearing houses, but whatever was happening, I wanted to be there,” said Feaser.

    Feaser is one of a number of women who walk the path set by MacGregor and other female Marines. Just as her predecessors did before her, Feaser is also paving the foundation for the next generation of women in the Marine Corps, two of whom she is connected to personally.

    On May 17, MacGregor was in Afghanistan, finishing a closing chapter of her career of service as a Marine. 7,400 miles away at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C., her daughter, Emily Hall was writing the opening pages of her Marine Corps story.
    Standing alongside Hall in the same boot camp platoon was Feaser’s sister, Niamh Cin Oir Feaser.

    “She’s already in the Corps she’ll inherit,” said MacGregor of her daughter. “It’s not so much I want her to inherit it, I want her to live up to the legacy of the Marines who have gone before her, not just female Marines, but all Marines.”

    There is a world to explore for MacGregor, who will soon leave Afghanistan in preparation for her retirement following a quarter century of service to the Corps. .

    However, she said she already knows the first thing she wants to do.

    “I plan to see my daughter graduate and join, as she says, ‘the family business,’ and to meet the Feasers’ sister,” MacGregor said.

    And MacGregor said she knows that after her service, the Corps is in the capable hands of Cpl. Aine Feaser, and the next generation of Marine leaders.

    “She is my daughter’s leader. I look at the Cpl. Feasers of the world and I can retire with serenity, because I know my generation’s efforts were not in vain, and the Marine Corps is in good hands.”



    Date Taken: 07.18.2011
    Date Posted: 07.18.2011 03:08
    Story ID: 73881

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