Corporal Remedios Cruz is making the news as a graduate of Marine Infantry School along with six other female Marines who recently participated in an experimental program that placed both men and women together executing combat tasks.
When the 24-year-old Marine supply clerk from Fleischmann, NY, heard about the program back in July 2014, she knew she was meant to do it. Cruz spoke about her experience as being “the hardest thing she’s ever done” and that “as Marines, we see a challenge and we overcome it”.
Taking part in the integration study allowed Cruz to experience the front lines, train hard, and participate in marches up to 20km wearing 80-85 pound gear packs while trudging through sand, and enduring 100-degree weather at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, CA. “You definitely do have to be physically fit — almost like an athlete,” Cruz said. “You do have to have a good amount of lower body strength for the hikes.” She said.
She spoke candidly about her experience and how hard it was. “There were times where I didn’t think that I could make it to the very end, but I just stuck it out,” she said. “There was no questioning that I would not quit. There was no questioning that I would finish it.” She describes in a video (below) that “presence is everything”, her commitment is palpable. She’s not giving up.
There are still many who argue that women ‘don’t belong on the battlefield’ and more who balk at women being able to handle the stress, physical demands, and dangers of combat. While it is still true that men have superior upper body strength and may have an easier time with the rigorous demands of training, the Marine Corps is allowing the opportunity for women to compete for positions and do the job, as long as they meet the same standards as the men. The program appears to be working.
While the debate continues, Corporal Cruz is proving that she is focused, committed, and capable and she’s not letting anyone else’s opinion or any excuses get in the way of her success. “It’s not about how hard it is…but how bad you want it”, she says, and she wants it more than anything!
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