MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWETNYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
INDIAN WELLS, Calif.—A busload of the Combat Center’s women Marines were the special guests at a luncheon in their honor April 21, 2012, at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif.
This the the third year for the annual event, hosted by the Mitchell Paige Medal of Honor Chapter of the 1st Marine Division Association. It is funded solely through donations by the association’s members and through a silent auction that takes place during the meal.
This year’s sough-after bid items were hand-painted pieces of fine jewelry.
“Enthusiasm (for the luncheon) is very high,” said Jim Sullivan, member, 1st Marine Division Association. “We like it. Women Marines need to be recognized for what they do.
“My personal opinion is they don’t get enough credit for what the Marine Corps is all about,” Sullivan said. “Everybody thinks of Marines, they think the grunt out there with a rifle. They forget about all the support that goes into it.”
The guest of honor and speaker for the afternoon was Sgt. Maj. Jennifer L. Simmons, sergeant major, 1st Radio Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Simmons’ spoke on the intangible characteristics that gives the Marines their solid reputation, and about the history and impact women have had in the Corps.
“From the day you earn the right to call yourself as a Marine, you take your place in an extremely proud heritage,” Simmons said, addressing the group. “One must remember the Marine Corps is a small organization, but yet the most dynamic force in the American arsenal. That is why we are known as a few good men and a few good women.”
Four Junior Marine ROTC cadets were also invited to get a firsthand glimpse at what they can expect to be if they ever join the Corps.
“I am hoping to go into the Marine Reserves right out of high school,” said Cadet 1st Lt. Rachelle Scott. “I found this really inspirational because I’ve had lots of things try to bring me down.
“My entire life I’ve been into things that usually girls don’t try to take part in, and I’ve gotten lots of criticism for that,” Scott said. “This made me feel confident, feel good about what I’m choosing to do.”
Toward the end of the event, Simmons parted with words meant to bring back memories for the Marines in the crowd, and inspire the four girls still yet to enlist.
“As a drill instructor on Parris Island, I used to have a final talk with my female recruits prior to them walking across that parade deck for the last time,” Simmons said. “After 13 weeks of training, after fighting sand fleas and smelling like Skin So Soft (lotion) every day in an effort to become one of the world’s finest, I would remind them that many have attempted to earn the title of Marine.
“Many have gotten off the bus, many have stepped on those yellow footprints, many arrive, many try, but only a few actually survive,” Simmons said. “Be proud of your accomplishment as a woman Marine and wear your title with utmost pride.”