By Joseph Hammond
Sgt. Tara-Lyn Baker is the first woman to become part of the frozen few.
Over six grueling weeks, Sgt. Baker demonstrated a range of combat skills in snow and ice to complete the winter mountain leaders course at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, California.
A video published by the U.S. Marine Corp Times shows the 150 pound Marine executing maneuvers and training exercises. These include carrying a 60 to 90-pound backpack while skiing up steep mountains carrying heavy packs, shooting with deadly accuracy in the snow. Only the most “gung-ho” Marines are up to the challenge.
During the course Marines learn how to fight, survive, and maneuver in sub-zero temperatures and is one of the most physically demanding training programs in the U.S. military. Military operations in mountainous areas add the challenge of verticality.
Like some of her fellow Marines, Baker said suffered from frostbite and hypothermia. “We learn how to overcome it,” she said.
Baker came to the school – located 6,800 feet above sea level – as a Marine Mechanic.
In the video, Baker says she’s proud of her accomplishment.
Today, the first female Marine graduated from Winter Mountain Leaders Course.
Oorah, Marine. pic.twitter.com/qeFU4ADUfR
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) January 8, 2019
The Marines is the last branch of the U.S. armed services that still enforces gender segregation in boot camp but, in January an integrated a Marine training battalion was formed of one male and five male platoons for the first time.
Lt. Marina Hierl, 24, became the first female Marine to lead a platoon last year after becoming the first woman to complete the Marines’ 13-week Infantry Officer Course in 2017.
The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center is located at a higher elevation than Camp Ethan Allen Training Site used by the U.S. Army (1,200 feet elevation) or US Navy Mountain Warfare Training Camp Michael Monsoor (3,500 feet elevation). Though at all centers actual training operations are often conducted in the surrounding areas. Specialized American soldiers also attend similar programs in allied countries.
The facility was opened in 1951 to train U.S. soldiers for the Korean War. During the Cold War, the facility was used to train soldiers to protect Norway and the rest of NATO’s Northern Flank. The facility had taken on increased importance since September 11, 2001, when it was used in pre-deployment training for U.S. soldiers involved in Operation Enduring Freedom in mountainous Afghanistan.
In one training scenario often used by the Marines, the trainee is meant to jump with their skis, poles and a give gallon pack into a hole cut into a frozen lake.
“When you jump in, you lose your breath, you kind of lose your head,” said Sgt Aaron Jensen, a student of the school in a 2015 interview.
The Marine has to throw the pack out of the water and swim to the edge. Once there, the Marine must verbally request permission to get out of the water.
Then the training kicks in – participants roll in powdered snow to get the water off their clothes before a final sprint to warming tents to change and dry themselves.
“You learn how to survive, you learn how to deal with the cold,” Baker said in a video posted on the service’s Twitter.
Photo Cred: A version of this photo was posted by the U.S. Marine Corp Twitter account here https://twitter.com/USMC/status/1084253698186854400
Source: American Media Institute