Retired Marine female colonel from Carlsbad honored

A Carlsbad woman and retired U.S. Marine colonel is being honored for her work researching female Marine Corps generals.

Marianne S. Waldrop is being recognized by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for her two years spent interviewing eight of nine living female generals.

“It’s humbling because I really felt that maybe it was just me that was interested in the topic,” she said. “As I was starting to go through the work, I realized that it’s a shame that with all the discussions and controversy about the success of women in the military, we don’t know about these women that succeeded, particularly in the Marine Corps. It was my honor to be able to have access to those women.”

Her time with the women ranged between two hours for one single interview to 26 hours for multiple interviews. She was able to travel to places such as Washington, D.C.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and San Antonio, Texas, thanks to a dissertation grant provided to her by the heritage foundation in early 2014.

She was inspired to do the research because as she started her doctoral program at the University of San Diego, a “remarkable” number of people asked her if it was tough to be a Marine in general, as well as a female Marine.

“Being a Marine is tough no matter what gender you are,” was usually her response.

As a Marine of 24 years, Waldrop led hundreds of Marines in a variety of environments, with the most challenging assignments in support of four combat operations in Saudi Arabia, Africa and Iraq.

She said her initial goal for the research was finding out what drove the women to join the military and see what, if anything, they had in common.

But, in her research, she learned that there really wasn’t much of a common denominator.

“My little fairy tale that all these women had the same motivations and the same drive wasn’t true at all,” she said. “It was fascinating to learn that.”

She did find that three things aligned, however: They had short-term strategies to succeed in their professions; they didn’t identify with anything but being a Marine; and they had a strong affinity with the core values of the Marine Corps’ culture.

“These women were very impressed by the Marine Corps and realized that they were just so impacted by wanting to be one of the few, one of the proud,” she said.

Waldrop, along with other award recipients, will be recognized at a ceremony April 29 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia.

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