On some days, I was a turret gunner, manning a .50 caliber machine gun, which shoots very large bullets very fast, or an MK 19, which is a belt-fed grenade launcher. On other days, I was a Humvee driver or riding shotgun, manning the radio and providing directions. Sometimes I was in the back seat with an M16 pointed out the window, staying vigilant the entire ride.
Any of these jobs required constant tire changes. With the heat of the desert and the temperature a tire can normally get to, we were literally melting our Humvee tires off the vehicle. Changing a tire mid-convoy, while it’s smoking hot and melting, needs to be done quickly and without failure. The convoy didn’t care whether you were female; it needed that heavy thing off and replaced so the vehicles could stop being sitting ducks. While the whole convoy is waiting on you, it’s no time to be a woman, only a Marine.
During the second deployment I was tasked with a very female job. The citizens of Fallujah were searched by Marine infantry each day as they were allowed back into the city. The female citizens could only be searched by female Marines, and no females were in the infantry. I searched females for contraband including money, weapons, and bombs.
Since I was one of the very few that was trained specifically for this job at this early time, I was selected to lead an all-female platoon attached to this infantry unit. It was the first time the Marines had created such a platoon, and I am honored to have been a part of the very beginning for women to officially be on the front lines.