Barrier-breaking Marine is ‘determined’ ‘go-getter’

The Idaho native is one of the first three women to pass the Corps’ infantry training.

POST REGISTERNovember 24, 2013 

Private First Class Cristina Fuentes Montenegro, 25, left, shares a moment with Pfc. Julia Carroll, 18, during graduation ceremony held on Camp Geiger, Jacksonville.

Julia Carroll knew as a junior at Skyline High School that women deserved to be treated equal to men.

“Life is better for the female population now than it has ever been in America,” she wrote in a March 2012 guest column for the Post Register. “But ‘better’ isn’t good enough. Equal is what we’re looking for.”

Carroll, 18, made history Thursday when she graduated from the Marine Corps’ enlisted infantry training school in North Carolina. She completed a 59-day course, meeting the same test standards as the men. The course includes a 12-mile march with an 80-pound pack, combat shuttle runs, timed ammunition container lifts and tests simulating combat fire conditions.

Carroll is entering a school for signal intelligence training, according to an Associated Press article. The 2013 Skyline High School graduate was honored as summa cum laude for achieving a grade point average of 4.0 or higher.

As the daughter of a former Marine sniper who was in special operations forces from 1981 to 1990, Carroll spent a lot of time shooting .22-caliber rifles, .45-caliber handguns and .38-caliber revolvers. She also camped and hiked with her father, John Carroll.

“I couldn’t be more proud of her,” John Carroll said. “She wanted to go into an area where women hadn’t traditionally been — combat arms. She was up to the challenge. They asked for volunteers, and she volunteered because she had scored high enough on the fitness tests.”

John Carroll said that as a young girl his daughter played in the Blackfoot Little League alongside the boys. To prepare for the military, he said she trained in martial arts for six years and ran long distance. She also was a member of the Skyline High School swim team.

“We couldn’t be prouder,” said Carroll’s mom, June Willsey. “It’s kind of hard for me to say, but honestly this is something she wanted for a long time. She’s always been a different kid. I wouldn’t say she was a tomboy. One adjective I can use to describe her is determined. When she walks into something, she accomplishes it.”

Willsey said Carroll briefly considered attending college to pursue a career in journalism, but decided to enlist instead. Carroll was editor of the school newspaper and was a local columnist for the Post Register for about a year.

“She’s the type of kid who when you tell her no, she finds a way to do it,” Willsey said.

Willsey said she talked to her frequently during training. Carroll told her 50 women were eligible to train. Of those 50, 15 started boot camp. Three succeeded.

During her junior year she told her swim coach, Denise Thompson, she planned on joining the Marine Corps.

“One of the last meetings we had, I saw her father and asked him if he was excited about her going into the Marines,” Thompson said. “He was beaming. ... Her family was very supportive.”

Skyline High School Principal Jeff Sanders said Carroll’s recent accomplishment wasn’t surprising.

“She was a go-getter at Skyline,” Sanders said. “She was a fierce competitor. She had a great personality. She worked hard in class. She was an all-in type of girl. No matter what was going to happen, she was going to help. She was one of those kids you wouldn’t mind having 1,200 of.”

In her senior quote in the yearbook, Carroll’s words were prophetic for what duty she would eventually take up.

“Pray for Peace,” she wrote, “but prepare for war.”

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