CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
In the 1940s, when women were first allowed to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, female Marines did not qualify with weapons and they were not required to learn hand-to-hand combat, but they received specific instruction on etiquette and how to wear makeup.
Oh, how things have changed.
Cpl. Amy Gentry is a prime example of just how much life has changed for women serving in the Marine Corps since their integration into the service. Gentry is a fire team leader with 2nd Platoon, Military Police Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and has deployed twice to Al Anbar Province, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She served solely as a heavy machine gunner from August 2007 to March 2008 and both as a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle driver and heavy machine gunner from February to September 2009.
You would never know the 23-year-old woman is a combat veteran who loves to fire weapons and lead Marines just by meeting her; her calm, quiet demeanor fools most people into thinking she is just a soft-spoken young lady.
Gentry's platoon sergeant, Sgt. Brenden Colley, said although she is not like the average rambunctious Marines in his platoon, he sees a lot of potential for her to develop into a strong leader.
"She has a very quiet confidence about her," he noted. "Because she is [so] competitive on paper, in competitions, and during deployments and field operations, we utilize her to guide new Marines when they check in."
Recently, Gentry gave her command even more reason to be proud of her; she volunteered to be a part of the regiment's team during the Camp Lejeune 2010 Intramural Small-Arms Competition held in early March. She won the title for 2nd Place Individual Pistol and contributed to the team's overall 2nd Place Rifle win and 4th Place Pistol title. Even more noteworthy, it was her first time participating in the competition.
Her passion for firing weapons was clear from the time she decided to forego college life and enlist in the Corps.
"I've always loved the Marines, so when I did my research, I went to my recruiter and asked 'What's going to let me shoot the most guns and deploy the most?' and that is how I became a Marine and got the job as an MP," she explained.
Gentry hopes to pass on her deep affection for the Corps to her young Marines by continuing to lead by example.
"I want to make sure I take care of my Marines at all times and to teach them to stick to the basics.
Things like customs and courtesies, staying focused on completing the job and learning everything you can to be a better leader, are things that I know will make them better leaders and in turn, better Marines," she said.