ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) – The phrase “The few, The Proud” was the US Marine Corps’ slogan for decades, but for two Stateline servicemembers it’s more like “The Few-er, the Proud-er.”
We caught up with the soon-to-be boot camp graduates who’ve had quite a journey. The two friends are on the brink of making history after venturing from the Forest City to the west coast.
“We can do everything guys can do. We can do all the obstacles. We can do all the training. And that’s what we were there to show,” said Pvt. Sage Emmons.
Rockford natives Arianna Austin and Sage Emmons will make history on Friday by graduating from boot camp alongside their male counterparts at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego.
“All of the girls felt like that. They’re like, ‘I have some guys running next to me and I better beat them’ because we had something to show. We had to show that we were meant to be there,” added Pvt. Emmons.
Previously, women had only been permitted to train at Parris Island in South Carolina, but the pair are two of 53 recruits who have spent the past 13 weeks on the west coast as part of a trail-blazing all-female platoon.
“It’s been amazing. Just knowing that I’ve made it this far and I’ve pushed myself this far, I feel unstoppable at this point,” said PFC Arianna Austin.
Austin, a Harlem High School grad, says she and Emmons were already friends prior to heading out to boot camp. She says the experience has brought them even closer.
“Going through this whole process, I believe that it was better having someone I knew in the beginning because you’re just thrown into this very uncomfortable situation with 55 other recruits all together at the same time, so having someone that I knew really helped in those moments and just knowing that we made it through together, it’s been amazing knowing that she’s been here by my side this whole time,” said PFC Austin.
Emmons, an East High grad, says her cousin Josh–a fellow Marine–convinced her to enlist after meeting some of his best friends during boot camp. Now, she is feeling that same sense of camaraderie.
“It’s more of the bond of helping each other out when you’re stressed out or feeling down,” said Pvt. Emmons.
During graduation, the duo will see their families for the first time since boot camp started in January. On Monday, they will begin 4 weeks of Marine combat training.