Oohrah for Strong Women

The Major Marches

Not familiar with “ooh-rah”? It’s that explosive sound that Marines use to express enthusiastic approval. I heard it at Friday’s evening parade at Marine Barracks in Washington DC and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Among the precision marchers on the parade ground and ceremonial hosters were a few women in uniforms identical to their male counterparts. And they looked sharp.

I was saddened, then, when I saw the trolls out on Marine Barracks’ Facebook page commenting on the photo that appears up top:

Thank God I got out of the corps before I witnessed this political crap take place!

It seems that several of the Barracks’ Facebook followers were dismayed to learn that women had invaded the Corps, and in this case, were wearing the male uniform.

A woman Facebooker responded far more courteously than I might have (but knowing online trolls, I like to stay out of their line of fire):

Gentlemen, it’s the prescribed parade uniform for designated personnel at the Barracks. Pls keep your personal attacks/feelings against this Marine to yourselves.

The Major also received support from two men who follow the Marine Barracks page:

I look at it like this. I dont care which uniform of the Marines she is wearing. She a Major and by the looks of it, has had a pretty good career. Semper Fi Major!

I prefer that she wear this one as she carriers herself, the Ladies of the Corps and the Marine Corps well. Semper Fi

I had the honor and pleasure of meeting the Marine they were writing about. And she’s not just any Marine. Major Sarah Armstrong is the first female parade commander of a Friday Evening Parade, a tradition that started back in my Dad’s time as Executive Officer of Marine Barracks.

Those shiny medals on her jacket? They’re campaign and achievement medals. She earned ’em the hard way. At least one of those ribbons denotes her tour in Afghanistan.

My mother was a strong woman. My friends are strong women. My daughter is a strong woman.

In the place where my father served 56 years ago, at a time when only men achieved positions of leadership in the Marine Corps, I’m thrilled to see Major Armstrong doing her thing, and doing it so competently.

As one of the Facebookers concluded:

Ooorah ma’am!


Per the comment I received from my second cousin John, turns out I’ve got a strong woman in my extended family in the form of Col. Marne Sutten, US Army. She’s married to John’s son, Col. Grant Fawcett. Between the two of them they served five tours in Iraq. They’re busy raising their two children in Tampa, FL. Photos provided by John Fawcett:

Just after Col. Megan Sutten's promotion ceremony, watched happily by her husband Grant via video

Just after Col. Megan Sutten’s promotion ceremony, watched happily by her husband Grant via video

Col. Megan Sutten and Col. Grant Fawcett

Col. Megan Sutten and Col. Grant Fawcett

Col. Grant Fawcett as the last convoys pull out of Iraq

Col. Grant Fawcett as the last convoys pull out of Iraq


Filed under Marines and those who serve, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Oohrah for Strong Women

  1. The Marine Corps has a huge issue these days with Marines who view females in a very negative manner. The USMC recently began asking Facebook to shut down pages that were dedicated to their cause. The sad part is that I am guessing these Marines had these same issues prior to enlisting and they are going to have them for the rest of their lives in most cases. The USMC isn’t perfect and we are all just starting to realize this since the proof is all over the world wide web.

  2. Sean Chandler West

    GREAT message! There is NO reason whatsoever that one human being should judge another. In Life we all have obstacles, problems, challenges and barriers. How we approach it is our business and unless we disregard the rules of “humanity” and cross them, leave the judging up to the “one” who ultimately is THE judge when we are finished here.

  3. Wonderful!John email me at home with the picture and I’ll post for you.

  4. john.fawcett@sbcglobal.net

    Betsy I have thoroughly enjoyed the “Henry Chronicles” and will use this opportunity to brag and add to your post on ” Strong Women”! Oohrah! Here is a picture of my son Colonel Grant Fawcett and his wife Colonel Marne Sutten who just received her Command! Marne is also a “Jump master” and has trained Marines to jump out of planes! Between the two of them they have served 5 tours in Iraq and are raising two wonderful children? As a farmer I am totally in awe of our armed forces dedication and sacrifice!

    Sent from my iPad

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