View Full Version : Woman rises to Marine Corps' challenges

04-25-05, 09:57 PM
Woman rises to Marine Corps' challenges


It was just a little pain.

That's how Shannon Thomas described the fractured sacrum she received during U.S. Marine Boot Camp. Thomas finished the final two weeks of camp with the injury, never telling her superiors about the injury.

The ability to fight through the pain is one of the things that resulted in Thomas finishing third in her class, and receiving a promotion on merit at the end of the 13-week boot camp.

"There are Marines in Iraq putting their lives on the line every day, and I was just going through training, so I was not going to let a little obstacle like that stop me," Thomas said.

"I never thought about quitting. It was hurting, but I did not tell anyone or even think about stopping," she said. "If I was ever going to be capable of serving my country in war, I would have to learn how to deal with little things like that. So I had to keep pushing. This exercise was training for combat, if I am ever put in that situation, I will have to deal with much more."

Thomas' injury occurred during the Crucible, a 54-hour training exercise, in which participants had to march more than 45 miles and complete eight events. Each event had 10 components.

"The whole time, we had our face in the mud or sand and were always tired and hungry," Thomas said. "It was miserable, the hardest thing I have ever been through."

She survived the exercise and went on to graduate third in a class of 63 recruits. She was one of two recruits promoted to private first class.

Thomas got off to a rough start at camp, crying her way through the only phone call she was allowed to make from Paris Island, S.C.

"We had to call as soon as we arrived, and could only read from a piece of paper," she said. "I was crying the whole time because I had just gotten off the bus and was yelled at for the first time."

The yelling was a daily occurrence, but the crying soon stopped.

"When I was a kid, I would go to California for a week of vacation and would cry to come home," Thomas said. "I did not know how I would get through this. But we were so busy the whole time that I did not have time to get homesick. I tried to make it from chow to chow and Sunday to Sunday.

"It was tougher mentally than physically. Being away from my family and not being able to call home. I never knew what was going on back here at home, so I was always worried about my family."

The military lifestyle grew on Thomas.

"Before I left I was hard-headed and did not like being told what to do. It was definitely culture shock at camp, where I was told what to do and how to do it every second of the day. But I became so used to it, that it was an even bigger shock when I came home. It was shocking to see how kids were speaking to their teachers after being taught how to respect superiors at camp. I had to step back when I saw the students, but my recruiter told me I was just like that before I left. It made me realize that I had changed a lot.

"Now I love the whole military lifestyle, all of the structure and discipline. That was a major reason why my dad, Kenny, allowed me to go, because he knew I would get some discipline there."

Mom Diana has noticed the difference in her daughter.

"She said before she left that she needed structure, and how to learn how to follow through on something she had started," she said.

"Shannon would never finish anything. I was proud to hear her admit those things before she left. It was almost shocking to see how much she had changed once she came back. She has so much respect for authority now, her room is spotless and you can see the pride she has in herself now."

Thomas said the boot camp experience has boosted her self-confidence.

"Before I left, I did not know what I was going to do with my life. I am more confident and outgoing. I have pride now, something I did not have before. That all comes from knowing everything that I had to go through. I proved to myself that I could handle it; now I think I can do anything."

Thomas left yesterday for Camp Geiger in North Carolina for a month of combat training. From there, she will receive job training. After that, she may be deployed to Iraq.

"Whenever I first signed up, the thought of going to Iraq terrified me. But after going through boot camp and getting all of the training, I know I would be prepared. Now I would love to go. If not that, I would love to go overseas, maybe to Japan."

Thomas plans on making a career of the military, and is considering becoming a drill instructor. At her graduation ceremony, it was her instructor who was in tears.

"When she saw my mom at graduation, she said only two girls were being promoted, and it was not hard to choose me as one of them. Then she started crying. That made me feel good, after she had been yelling in my face for the past 13 weeks."


05-18-05, 11:25 AM

05-30-05, 06:45 AM
Springfield native helps keep aircrews safe in Iraq
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200552833433
Story by Sgt. Juan Vara

AL ASAD, Iraq (May 28, 2005) -- An intelligence specialist with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465, Lance Cpl. Liz S. Rohrer doesn’t let the "Groundhog Day effect" of serving here interfere with the quality of her work. Skipping over even the smallest detail could cost several lives.

As an intel specialist in an assault support helicopter squadron, Rohrer keeps track of enemy movement and passes that information to pilots and crewchiefs. The aircrews use it to plan their routes throughout the Al Anbar province and either fly around or push through certain regions, depending on the level of enemy activity.

After the mission she receives information from the pilots and crewchiefs and shares it with the rest of the intel specialists in the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) to track what the enemy is doing and help aircrews avoid flying over danger zones.

“Somebody told me once ‘the pilots are your pilots,’” she said. “Every time I brief them my main goal is to make sure I give them all the information they need. I want to brief them on everything they need to know so the flight is safe and I want to have them come back so I can debrief with them.”

A native of Springfield, Mo., Rohrer thought of joining the military or becoming a missionary after graduating from a private Christian school two years ago. Her long-term plan during that time was to become an FBI agent.

Serving in the intelligence field of one of the armed forces looked like a good stepping-stone and after researching the Internet to learn about the military, Rohrer decided on becoming a Marine. “I like to be the best at whatever I do,” she said. “The Marines are the best.”

In November 2003 Rohrer reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., and left after enduring 13 weeks of arduous physical and mental training. Having completed Marine Combat Training and intelligence specialists’ school, Rohrer joined her current unit, based at Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, Calif., in August 2004.

The squadron deployed here seven months later to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, bringing Rohrer among its ranks. “It’s part of the job,” she said. “Some of the cool things about being a Marine are that we get to travel a lot and learn about other people. We also learn a lot about ourselves and how to deal with certain situations.”

To deal with the stress of working a 12-hour shift every day, Rohrer lifts weights and does cardiovascular exercises regularly. As a child she played basketball, soccer, Futsal (indoor soccer), ran and studied martial arts. “I love to work out,” she said. “It releases natural endorphins and becomes addictive.”

Working on getting as much of her education completed while in the Corps, Rohrer is taking a sociology class here, which she juggles with work and the limited free time she has. Her plans of working for the bureau have changed and now she wants to become a doctor and help those in need.

“I still want to complete the mission and being a doctor is one of the things I think would be good,” she said. “I’d like to study sports medicine or something like that.”

Whether as a Marine in a combat zone or as a missionary, Rohrer’s focus stays the same, doing her best to help save the lives of those around her.


05-31-05, 08:45 AM
Once a Marine, always a Marine
The woman behind World War II’s "top secret man"


May 31, 2005

WAUKESHA - Delourise Trakel, 88, may not remember if it was late 1942 or early 1943 that she enlisted in the United States Marines, but she remembers the atmosphere of the country.

"The whole United States was just immersed in the war activities," she said. "So many women were working in the factories so that the men could go on to other things that they needed to do."

Rather than becoming "Rosie the Riveter," Trakel chose to leave her life as a librarian and follow in her father’s footsteps, who was a Spanish War veteran, and join the military.

"We were trained as cryptographers," she said. "My first station was at the big Marine station at Parris Island, South Carolina. We coded and decoded secret messages."

The opportunity arose to travel by ship to Hawaii and Trakel took it, becoming stationed at Pearl Harbor.

"I was their ‘top secret man,’" she said. "That meant I would be able to open up the top secret messages."

Although it’s been more than 60 years, one message still stands out.

"A message did come through that President Roosevelt had died," she said. "It was a loss to the country."

came back to the mainland within two years and became part of the reserves and she resumed her life as a librarian. She also married Newell Trakel and gave birth to their daughter Ellen in 1949.

"I can’t remember if it was 1949 or 1950, I got this letter from the Marine Corp saying that I was promoted to Captain," she said. "But there was a little note on there ‘unless you have children.’"

Having no choice, she resigned from the Marines and passed her patriotism on to her daughter.

"Memorial Day is a time for all of us to remember those soldiers both living and dead who have served our country," said Ellen Gangnon, Trakel’s daughter. "I am very proud that my mom is one of those proud soldiers."

Gangnon became a teacher and works to promote patriotism within her classes.

"She always tells me once a Marine, always a Marine," said Gangnon.

And on this Memorial Day, John Margowski, director of Veterans Services for Waukesha County reminds citizens that it was not just a day off but much more.

"It’s a time that we pause and reflect on all who have died in service as well as those who have passed away after their service," he said. "I would hope even in times of peace that we wouldn’t forget them because we are at peace because of those people."

By the numbers
292,000 - the number of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed in battle in World War II.
Just more than 1,000 - the number of World War II veterans that die a day
16.1 million - the number of U.S. armed forces personnel who served in World War II between Dec. 1, 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946.
33 months - the average length of active-duty by United States military personnel during World War II.
73 percent - the portion of U.S. military personnel who served abroad during World War II.
16 months - the average time U.S. personnel served overseas during World War II.
671,000 - the number of U.S. troops wounded during World War II.
210,000 - the estimated number of women in 2002 who were World War II veterans.

Source: The United States Census Bureau and The Department of Veterans Affairs

Kelly Gilbert can be reached at kgilbert@conleynet.com.


05-31-05, 11:00 AM
That's what I'm talking about. Behind every great Man, there's a Woman. Sometimes we step up in front and take charge. Very moto threads. Times are changing. Females on the front lines is going to...

06-11-05, 05:05 AM
Female Marines take on crucial role in Fallujah
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005610235548
Story by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

FALLUJAH, Iraq (June 10, 2005) -- Marines have the responsibility of providing security here, and cultural sensitivities are a major concern for the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8.

Female Marines have taken on a critical role in the Regimental Combat Team’s mission in an effort to show respect for the Iraqi culture.

The six members of Female Search Force, in support of RCT-8, occupy entry control points throughout the southern sector of the city.

“Female searchers have an important role,” said Capt. Sean K. Butler, 36-year-old commanding officer of Weapons Co., “They allow us to search Iraqi women and children as they come through the ECP.”

These Marines work out of the “female search area” at the ECP during operational hours.

While Iraqi men are searched by the Marines of the battalion, women and children pass through an alternate search area, hidden from the eyes of male Marines and civilians.

“It’s out of respect for Iraqi culture,” said Butler, a native of Mt. Shasta, Calif., “In this society, men and women don’t associate as freely as we do in the states.”

The female searchers also assist in the search of vehicles coming through the ECP’s.

Although not their regular job, the female searchers enjoy their role in the city’s security and the opportunity to work in support of a Marine infantry battalion.

“It’s great to be able to interact more with the infantry Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Christina J. Humphrey, a 22-year-old motor transport operator, now temporarily assigned to the Female Search Force.

The female searchers have been working with the Regimental Combat Team for more than three months, and have established themselves as valuable assets to the battalion’s operations.

“They have a keen understanding of what their role is and they go about their job as professionals,” Butler said.

The female searchers will continue to stand their posts with a bolstered pride, recognizing the necessity of their role in this environment, according to Humphrey, a native of Seattle, Wash.

“I’ve always wanted to do something that mattered,” said Lance Cpl. Georgia R. Shirley, 21-year-old motor transport mechanic, currently a member of the Female Search Force, “and now I’m able to do that here in Fallujah.”