By Gunnery Sgt. Tyler Hlavac, USMC
On March 26, 2021 Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion completed recruit training with four male platoons and two female platoons – the first time ever that male recruits have graduated from the battalion.
During training the platoons were segregated by gender and maintained separate sleeping and bathing facilities inside of their respective squad bays. Training events conducted outside of the squad bay were conducted in a gender integrated environment.
Per the training order, platoons, both male and female, are the primary formation for initial training, and they progressively combine for larger training events as the program continues. This model enables appropriate acclimation to the training environment, development of relationships with drill instructors, and focus during the transformation of young women and men into United States Marines.
Company staff were composed of Marines from both genders, and the platoon staff was comprised of Drill Instructors of the same gender as the recruits.
Male staff to include company commanders, series commanders, 1st sergeants and chief drill instructors have previously been assigned to 4th battalion, but Papa Company hosted the first male drill instructors to serve in the battalion.
Capt. Adan Rivera, who currently serves as the Papa Company Commander, said assigning male recruits to train at 4th Battalion demonstrates that recruits are held to the same standards regardless of gender.
“The recruits, when they go out and (conduct physical training), they will be side-by-side working out together,” he said. “When they go on the rifle range they’ll be shooting right next to each other.”
Since its formation, 4th Battalion had served as the only training battalion in the Marine Corps for female recruits until Jan. 5, 2019, when India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion started their training cycle with one female platoon and five male platoons. Since that time female recruits have been assigned to all four of the recruit training battalions aboard the depot.
Female Marines have trained aboard the depot since Feb. 23, 1949, when 3rd Recruit Training Battalion was activated. On May 1, 1954, 3rd Battalion was re-designated as the Woman Recruit Training Battalion and remained under this designation until 1976 when it was re-designated as Woman Recruit Training Command.
On Nov. 1, 1986, Woman Recruit Training Command was re-designated as 4th Recruit Training Battalion and became part of the Recruit Training Regiment. During January 1989, the 3rd Battalion companies were re-designated as November and Oscar Companies due to reorganization of the regiment.
In October 1996, Papa Company was activated in order to more effectively train the larger number of female recruits arriving on Parris Island.
Papa Company Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Gregorio Montes said male and female recruits training together in the same company is nothing new aboard the depot.
“The training is the same and the standards are the same,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your training company is … we’re doing the same thing, the same training evolutions. With (male drill instructors) being at 4th Battalion, we’re just bringing it to light. We’re going to show that we are training the recruits the same and making the same standard of Marine.”
Despite the historical significance of the graduation, for the new Marines of Papa Company, male recruits training in 4th Battalion is the norm for them.
“I honestly didn’t pay that much attention to it,” said Pfc. Jahlil Johnson, recalling when he was first told he would be assigned to 4th Battalion for training. “It was when we had the first meeting with the senior drill instructor, when he said “you’re making history,” I was like … wow, okay this is a big thing. At first I don’t think anybody grasped what was going on, it was like “we’re here to train, let’s train.”