MCRD SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Golf Company, Second Recruit Training Battalion, will graduate hundreds of new Marines at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego today, Dec. 2, 2022. One of them, Lance Cpl. Madison D. Franklin, who was recruited out of Recruiting Station Indianapolis, has a particularly interesting distinction – she is the first female company honor graduate.
"Knowing that I'm the first female company honor graduate from the West Coast...it's not even about me," Franklin said. "It's so that every other female out there who has doubts knows that anything is possible. People say that, but not everybody believes it."
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego has been making Marines for 99 years, but until this past year, they have all been male. Female recruits started training on the West Coast in 2021, mirroring the integrated training that has been conducted at MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina.
Franklin didn’t get to where she is now on her own, though. She had encouragement and guidance from her drill instructors. One of them, Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sgt. Vernita M. Finley, remembers watching Franklin transform over the course of her training.
“She definitely grew into her role as a guide,” Finley said. “She was so unselfish…She looked out for everybody.”
Being a guide was a big adjustment for Franklin, though. It helped her transform into a new and better version of herself.
"Having to hold 50 to 60 other people to the same standard that you hold yourself to...or even little things like, 'Hey, make your rack' or 'Hey, your uniform looks wrong. It was a big adjustment for a lot of us," Franklin said. "It was the complete opposite of who I was before boot camp...it took a lot of breaking down and building back up, but it was probably the best thing that I could have asked to get out of boot camp."
Though her drill instructors kept her motivated throughout training, she also had the other encouragement as well.
"Females are way more powerful than they think. I think that now that I've done it, everybody else can know that they can do it," Franklin said. "I kept that in my mind the whole time. I have to set the example."
The Marine Corps is an inclusive and diverse organization. Finley, who has been in the Marine Corps for almost 15 years, understands the value of seeing women succeed in the military.
“It’s important for them to put eyes on people like me…who are in my position,” Finley said. “For them to know it’s possible and something they can aspire to.”
Though her time at MCRD San Diego has come to an end, she will always have the memories of recruit training. The bond that she formed with the Marines in her platoon is one she won't soon forget.
"It was hard for a lot of us," Franklin said. "It just shows how as a platoon we started as people who didn't know each other to crying on the parade deck after graduation because we didn't really want to leave."
Almost every week new Marines march across the parade deck at MCRD San Diego, and all are instilled with the core values that the Marine Corps was built on: honor, courage, and commitment. As the company honor graduate, Franklin was chosen as the Marine who best demonstrates all three of those traits. As she moves forward in her military career, she will continue setting the example, using the memory of this historic day to motivate herself and others she meets in the future.