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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The first gender-integrated company at the Marine Corps’ West Coast training depot in San Diego graduated Thursday.

The Marines of Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, are the first group of male and female platoons to train concurrently in MCRD San Diego’s nearly 100-year history. The company, made up of 53 women and 344 men, began training Feb. 12.

“This graduation of the first integrated company of Marines trained here at MCRD San Diego marks the completion of the first step toward a future in which each Marine who graduates MCRD San Diego has the same experience as their peers at Parris Island,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan P. Heritage, commanding general of MCRD San Diego.

“Our goal is to transform civilians into basically trained Marines; Marines who are imbued with our core values of honor, courage and commitment, and are armed with the foundational skills to thrive in the Fleet Marine Force and in the future operating environment. Every young man or woman who comes to MCRD San Diego receives the same immersive, rigorous training, and is required to meet and maintain our high standards.”

Lima Company’s graduation was conducted with a limited number of guests, according to a Marine Corps statement, which said the inaugural integrated training company will help inform and support permanent gender-integrated recruit training.

After graduation, the new Marines will be granted a period of on-base liberty to spend time with their families. The new Marines of Lima Company will continue directly to their next duty station at Camp Pendleton without leave.