Women have played a pivotal role in the Marine Corps since their introduction in 1918. They have honorably served and distinguished themselves both in times of conflict and peace.

In honor of March as National Women’s History Month (NWHM), Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner, sergeant major, Marine Corps Systems Command, addressed Marines with Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools (MCCSSS) who gathered together to celebrate Women’s History Month and honor women who fight all forms of discrimination during MCCSSS’ NWHM celebration at Camp Johnson, March 28.

“Women have been serving outside of the military since the beginning,” Fortner said. “The adversity they had to face was not always seen, but they persisted and did not give up.”

By the end of World War II, in 1945, not only were female Marines serving as clerks, but they were also able to obtain Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) such as mechanics, welders and similar related jobs in the reserves. In 1948, women were integrated into the active duty Marines, and for the first time, were able to serve without having to be in the reserves.

“We went from company clerks to combat warriors, ready to fight alongside our brothers,” Fortner said.

Leadership opportunities for military women are constantly expanding, and female Marines serve a variety of missions in many different capacities. The sacrifices of military women, and their professionalism and bravery have always raised the standards for dedication and patriotism.

“Today, we have female Marines leading infantry units, leading the way for the next 100 years,” Fortner said. “No matter which way you walk, understand that his story and her story make our story.”

The Marine Corps has continued to evolve and today, through direction of the Department of Defense, women are now allowed to serve in all MOS’, including combat jobs.

“I want you to always walk with confidence, man or woman,” Fortner said to the audience. “I need you to continue to fight and do your best

with no excuses. One Marine, one fight.”