Meet Pvt. First Class Teia Chutaro

Teia Chutaro after she signed up and took the oath to begin the process of becoming a Marine recruit. The venue is the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Honolulu.

KAREN EARNSHAW

Marshall Islander Teia Chutaro will be amongst 54 women making history on May 6 as successful participants in the first integrated group of male and female recruits at the 100-year-old Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

The daughter of Ben and Suzanne Chutaro and a former Majuro Cooperative School student, Teia told San Diego’s CBS 8 TV station in February that she is happy to have been chosen to join this first test group: “I’m just proud to be here and that I can be a part of making history.”

After successfully applying for the Marines in Honolulu, Hawaii, Teia was originally scheduled to go to boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, but was then ‘randomly selected’ to join the debut female group in San Diego. “With the GI Bill, I can go to college and do marine biology. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” Teia said. “Military custom has always been something that appeals to me.” 

Lt. Colonel Anthony Bariletti, Commanding Officer 3rd Recruit Battalion Training said physical testing standards will be the same for males and females. “There are physical standards that are developed by the service and directive that we will follow in terms of physical capability, but the whole purpose of integrative trainings to build unit cohesion as a team.”

Teia told CBS 8 that she believes she is well-prepared physically and mentally to do well at MCRD: “I want to make it through. I’m tough. I’ve been through tough situations and I can get through anything I put my mind to.”

The Marine Corps’ physical training program lasts 13 weeks. In January, Teia told reporter Sergeant Tessa Watts of the 12th Marine Corps District: “We’re making history and are speechless about it, but at the same time we’re proud,” Chutaro said. “We have a lot of weight on our shoulders because we’re expected to be the best group of females going. We have to prove ourselves.” 

After graduation Teia will have marine combat training at Camp Pendleton in the northern part of San Diego for one month. “This will cover basic infantry skills like marksmanship, throwing grenades and land navigation,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Essien Brule who helped recruit her. “After that it will be military occupational specialty school, which is where she will learn her job. She will likely be working in aviation, which is the field she said she wanted.”

The switch to being more inclusive of women in the Marines began in 2019, when Congress ordered the San Diego boot camp to integrate women into its training battalions by 2028. That process is already underway at the Marines’ Parris Island depot and until now all female recruits have gone through boot camp there.

According to officials, the current boot camp is just a test as the Marines want to learn what they will need to do to expand boot camps to include women in San Diego.

The most grueling part of the camp is The Crucible, which is a 54-hour test of the recruits’ skills. According to a Marine Corps site, it is a physically and mentally challenging event that involves food and sleep deprivation and the completion of various obstacles. This includes walking 48 miles while carrying a 55-pound pack and a M16 service rifle and 29 problem-solving exercises.

Given that 60 women started out in this first historic group and only six dropped out, it’s presumed the integrated boot camps will continue.

Oorah!

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