GULF OF ADEN, At Sea - “Shooters, stand by... Targets!” A U.S.
Marine with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit announces during a
deck shoot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) July
A row of Marines lined up in front of their targets
present their M9 Beretta pistols and take their shots. Although deck
shoots are a regular training event aboard the ship, this shoot in
particular is different. Eighteen female Marines are on line waiting
for the next drill, a change of scene from the typically
male-dominated deck shoots.
GULF OF ADEN (July 9, 2015)
- U.S. Marine Sgt. Erik Maehler, left, demonstrates loading a M9 Beretta pistol to Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Sunshine Padilla aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2). Maehler is a member of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force and Padilla is a hospital corpsman with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th MEU. The Marines practice marksmanship fundamentals dry to ensure safety and accuracy when shooting. The 15th MEU is embarked on the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anna Albrecht)
These Marines are part of the 15th MEU's Female
Engagement Team, or FET, who recently started their training
process to become more proficient areas such as
marksmanship, detainee handling, and public speaking.
The 15th MEU's FET is comprised of female Marines from a range of
different military occupational specialties and various units. These
Marines were pulled together to do hands-on training, patrols, or
actions that males cannot in the Middle East, such as searching
women and children, due to cultural boundaries.
This capability broadens the MEU's ability to build relationships
and liaise with a segment of the population they otherwise couldn't
in certain parts of the world.
“The FET was on a volunteer
basis,” said 1st Lt. Jennier Mozzetta, a team leader with the 15th
MEU's FET. “[We] passed the word that we are looking for females
that are very engaged, have a lot of initiative, who want an
opportunity to go out and do something different, and want to better
“We thought we'd only get about
five or six females, but we actually got 23 applicants who were
really excited and really wanted to do this, ” said Mozzetta.
The FET gives these Marines an opportunity to grow and develop
while they participate in a unique experience in the Marine Corps.
“We all strive to be something more than what we are, and be
a part of something bigger,” said Lance Cpl. Chevon Ferrell, an
ammunition technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th MEU.
“The FET gives us that. We have the ability to train more, help
other people in other countries and also learn from them.”
Training began with basic marksmanship, detainee searches, and
presentation and public speaking skills.
“[The Marines have]
done very well,” Mozzetta said. “They're very engaged and receptive
to the instructors. They've taken their weapons handling more in
depth with more manipulation, more theory and more practice, so
they've become very good at it.”
The group of Marines'
motivation is apparent in their hard work and good attitudes during
each day of training.
“I think they're doing outstanding,”
said Sgt. Jeanette Ventura, an airframe mechanic with Medium Marine
Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced). “It's really refreshing to see
a bunch of young female Marines, or just Marines in general, adapt,
overcome and improve with everything we have learned.”
the first week of training, the list of Marines were narrowed down
and specific teams were chosen to continue with the next phase of
“Now that we've refined our process and we've made
the selections for the two teams we created, we're going to be
focusing more on the instructor mentality,” Mozetta said. “We're
going to have more public speaking classes and expect them to teach
what they've learned so far.”
Currently, the intent behind
the 15th MEU's FET is for subject matter expert exchange, meaning
they're looking more to be a liaison partner and teach instead of
doing more patrolling and infantry-type work as seen with previous
“It's important for these Marines to have the
confidence and know their subject matter enough to teach it,”
Mozetta said. “We want to set the example of; this is how females
handle themselves, how professional they are, and how hard they
The FET continues to train hard aboard the Essex to
ensure the team members are confident and competent in everything
they do. This will allow the 15th MEU the ability to continue being
a presence in certain parts of the world and create bonds on a whole
other level that isn't possible with just males.
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Anna Albrecht
The U.S. Marines
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