The city of New Orleans dedicated the first United States monument of a woman in service uniform: “Molly Marine” November 10, 1943. A local recruiter commissioned the statue to help recruit women during World War II. For female Marines around the world, Molly has come to represent the countless significant contributions they have made to the Corps. She has become a symbol of esprit de corps for all women Marines. Just before graduation from boot camp, the female recruits are asked to name one woman within their platoon who best exemplifies esprit de corps. Here, pictured with WMA representative, Linda Priest, we celebrate two of our newest sisters, PFC Kaylea Grala and PFC Lauren Risacher, who’ve been recognized as Molly Marines.
PFC Kaylea Grala, Platoon 4014, O Company, Knoxville, TN
“Molly Marine represents an individual whose self truly embodies the values and beliefs of the Marine Corps. Such a person possesses the moral compass, strength, and perseverance to endure any hardship or turmoil she is presented with. Starting at the yellow footprints, a Molly Marine is the person who leads by example. The foundation of the family that is the Marine Corps is built upon in recruit training. Regardless of the issue, a Molly Marine is the person who freely accepts a sister’s burden as their own and acts as a guide to uphold such expectations to fellow peers. On a small scale, it means helping one another to make a count, lending gear, or never giving up on another recruit even when they have given up on themselves. A Molly Marine in recruit training is not necessarily the fastest, smartest, or loudest recruit, but a recruit that applies all the leadership principles, traits, and discipline taught her. This recruit could be the guide, a squad leader, scribe, or hold no billet at all. In the fleet, a Molly Marine is the person who lives and breathes the Marine Corps and stands for such principles, even if it contradicts the popular mindset. A Molly Marine is someone who always puts aside personal opinions and remains professional, loyal, and unbiased to every Marine. A Molly Marine can be found in any MOS, regardless of whether she ever has the opportunity to see combat or not. At the end of the day every Marine is a rifleman first, and in a time of war the true test of a Molly Marine is simply being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of selflessness for any brother or sister. Beginning in recruit training we all took this creed and vowed to follow it.
Being selected as the Molly Marine for Platoon 4014 is truly an honor. I didn’t realize until I was nominated just how much respect my sister recruits have for me. Arriving at the end of recruit training and looking back I can see how much I have changed into a more disciplined and respectful individual. Accepting Molly Marine for me is not so much a personal accomplishment as much as it is a reflection of the character of the Marines that have taken upon the incredibly difficult task of training myself and my fellow recruits. Personally, being a Molly Marine to me is striving to always live by everything my mentors have taught me. Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
PFC Lauren Risacher, Platoon 4015, O Company, Mansfield, OH
“In 1888 the famous American bandsman, John Phillip Souosa, composed a march when he was the leader of the U.S. Marine Corps band. The march was titled “Semper Fidelis.” Today, this is known as the Marine Corps motto. It means “always faithful.” What does this motto really mean though? Who are we being faithful to? Once we earn the title of United States Marine, it will pertain to our fellow Marines. Here at recruit training, it pertains to our fellow recruits, our sisters. Here at recruit training, we are all striving to be the best. We all want to be perfect and avoid making mistakes. It is not about being the best though. It is about helping those around you to also do their best. Everyone is different and some need more help than others. Who is going to step up and help? Who is going to risk getting blasted for the recruit next to them? Who is going to make a difference? According to my fellow recruits, my sisters, I have made that difference and that is why they chose me to be the “Molly Marine” for Platoon 4015.
The fourteen leadership traits also tie into surviving boot camp with our sisters. Our Senior Drill Instructor, Staff Sergeant Wilk has taught us about these traits and showed us how to apply these traits within the Marine Corps and in life. Dependability, unselfishness, loyalty, and enthusiasm mean the most to me when it comes to working together as a team of sisters. I feel that I have demonstrated these leadership traits and that is why my fellow recruits, my sisters have selected me to receive the “Molly Marine” award.
It is an honor to be selected for the “Molly Marine” award. It is great to know that I have made a difference in this platoon and I have helped out my fellow recruits, my sisters. It is an unexplainable feeling to be looked up to and noticed by those who are going through the same everyday challenges that I am facing as well at recruit training. I have been changed and shaped into the person I am today by my senior drill instructor, my drill instructors, and my sisters. I have taken everything I have learned from my senior drill instructor and applied these lessons to leading my peers. I take care of my sisters, just like Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Wilk taught us. I also now have more confidence than I ever did before. I am confident that I can take care of my sisters and myself at the same time. I am also more motivated than I was before. If one of my sisters is down or struggling, I know how to get them back up to finish the task and accomplish their goals.
During the first couple weeks of recruit training, I had different goals and a different perspective than I do now. I have noticed a change in me as the time has gone by here. At first, I kept to myself and was always making sure I was on point and that I was squared away. I was selfish at first. As time went on, I got to know everyone around me. I grew to know these recruits as sisters. Being the oldest of three sisters, I know how sisters are. I know how it works. We do not always get along, we fight, we argue, we pick on each other, but at the end of the day we always have each other’s backs. We care about each other and take care of each other. I feel like one of the big sisters here in this platoon. I have been a big sister my entire life. I would do anything for my sisters, family or fellow recruit. If one of my sisters needs help, I do not hesitate. Even if it is as small as filling a canteen or helping them make a countdown. Every little thing makes a difference. If my rack mate is not squared away then I have failed her and myself. If I had noticed that another recruit was struggling and turned the other way, then I would have failed. We have to take care of one another.
I may not have been in a leadership position here at boot camp (a guide or squad leader), but that does not mean that I lack leadership. I am not afraid to tell my sisters to do the right thing. A leader upholds our core values and demonstrates honor through integrity. A leader also takes responsibility for her actions and can hold herself accountable. I feel that I can be the leader that I need to be. I will take everything I have learned here at recruit training and I will be the best Marine that I can possibly be. My sisters have seen something in me and I will not let them down.