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Local Female Marine Tackles Gender Barriers
VEVAY, Ind. (Joe Webb) -- The streets of small town, middle America are not often the place where gender barriers are broken.
But Vevay, Indiana has produced a young woman who has kicked one to the curb. Private Kassandra Woodward recently completed the Marines 59 day enlisted Infantry Training Course alongside the men.
"I wanted to prove we can do anything. I don't know, it's just me. Pride. Only 12 other women have done this. It's so much pride."
Woodward was one of 28 to volunteer for the Marines research into changing gender restrictions for ground combat jobs. 15 failed. Among other things, the women had to hike 12 miles carrying a 90-pound pack and pass the men's fitness test.
Woodward was recognized Tuesday by State Representative Randy Frye. She was presented a proclamation and flag. A small crowd was on hand, including two proud parents.
Her mother said, "Actually, before she went in, she wanted to change Congress to let women in the infantry and now she's doing it herself. So I think I m a pretty proud Mama."
No one in Vevay is surprised by Private Woodward's accomplishment. This is not her first first. One year ago, Kassandra Woodward was a Senior on Switzerland County's wrestling team. Her coach was at Tuesday morning's ceremony.
He said, "She's the one and only female that's won a match for Switzerland County. She's a very dedicated hard worker. When she puts her mind to something she can do it."
And now she's done it in the manliest corner of a man's world. The United States Marines.
Later this week she heads to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. She will train as a motor transport operator and wait to see if the Marines change the gender restrictions for the infantry.
A lot has changed already. Today's Marines are obviously looking for more than just a few good men.
Kassandra says, "They need a few great women. That's what we're here for."
Private Woodward comes from a strong military family. Her father served in the Marine Corps and her mother was in the Navy. She has a younger sibling who is joining the Air Force.