The United States Marine Corps has named a woman an infantry platoon commander for the first time in the military branch’s 243-year history.
First Lt. Marina A. Hierl is one of four platoon commanders in Echo Company, a group of 175 Marines and Navy sailors, the New York Times reported.
The company was recently sent to Australia for about six months of training exercises and to act as a response force for the Pacific region. Hierl has been tasked to lead a platoon of about 35 men.
Hierl worked as a teen on a local horse farm in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
She decided to enlist in the Marines before graduating high school, but a recruiter recommended she attend college first.
“I wanted to do something important with my life,” Hierl told the Times. “I wanted to be part of a group of people that would be willing to die for each other.”
Hierl attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles before enlisting on an officer’s track.
“I wanted to lead a platoon,” she said. “I didn’t think there was anything better in the Marine Corps I could do.”
The U.S. military opened all positions to women, including combat roles, for the first time under President Obama in 2016. About 15 percent of the U.S.’s 1.3 million active-duty troops are women, the Department of Defense notes.