Parris Island deactivating all-women training unit

Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 10:13 AM EDT
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PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - History will be made on Thursday on Parris Island as the Marine Corps deactivates its Fourth Recruit Training Battalion.

Until 2021, it was the sole place women wanting to become Marines could train.

Lt. Col. Aixa Dones stepped onto the yellow footprints on Parris Island back in 1994.

“There’s nothing like hearing the drill instructors when they first give you that speech when you’re on those yellow footprints and they talk to you about those gigantic silver doors that you only go through once,” Lt. Col. Dones said.

Since 1986, women have been assigned to the all-women’s Fourth Recruit Training Battalion.

They still learned things like defensive combat techniques and operations but, there were a few changes to their training like classes that included baking and make-up.

“The inception of this battalion was created off needing somewhere to train women that wanted to be Marines, it was a very different society from where we are today,” Lt. Col. Dones said.

In 1996, the Marine Corps changed their protocols putting women through the exact same training as men but still keeping them in their separate battalion creating one of the most unique groups in the military.

“You ask any female Marine that walked through the cat walks what their experience was it was every single leadership position was there a female Marine there. You would have gotten that nowhere else in the world, and that’s empowering,” Lt. Col. Dones said.

Giving Lt. Col. Dones role models she never knew she needed.

“Coming here and having these other women to aspire after was pretty incredible and very memorable for me,” Lt. Col. Dones said. “Drill instructor Sgt. Garrett - she was just amazing everyone wanted to be her. Everybody in the platoon wanted to be her. She was a role model of perfection.”

Because of her determination and hard work, Lt. Col. Dones is the current commander of the Fourth Recruit Training Battalion.

A battalion that now not only prepares women to be marines but men as well. Thursday, the Fourth Recruit Training Battalion will complete its mission.

It will be deactivated, and its personnel will be reassigned and split up between the Marines’ training locations in Parris Island and in San Diego.

“To say that Fourth Recruit Training Battalion’s initial mission has become obsolete is actually a good thing; there’s nothing negative about that,” Lt. Col. Dones said. “It’s amazing to see where the Marine Corps has come today and its truly an honor and a privilege to be the last commander of this unit.”