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Two MCLC Marines achieve ‘firsts,’ contribute to women’s history legacy

By Marti Gatlin | | March 22, 2012

“First to fight for right and freedom,” the fifth line of the Marines’ Hymn first verse describes the Corps’ 236-year legacy.

Two Marines here help carry on the Corps’ illustrious history as well as contribute to the Women’s History Month legacy through achieving “firsts.”

Master Sgt. Rolanda Bailey, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Distribution Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, and Cpl. Dominique Dean, supply administrative clerk, DMC, both could be considered examples of the 2012 Women’s History Month theme, “Women’s Education - Women’s Empowerment.”

Bailey is the first Marine to enroll and deploy to Iraq while in the Business Logistics and Supply Chain Management degree program offered by Albany Technical College. Dean is the first Marine in her immediate family.

Sgt. Maj. Christopher D. Harper,

sergeant major, MCLC, characterized both Marines as “products of a long list of female service members whose everyday dedication, sacrifice and contributions contribute to the overall strength and greatness of today’s Armed Forces.

“Master Sergeant Bailey and Corporal Dean are both excellent Marines who continue to blaze a trail started Aug. 13, 1918, the date Opha Mae Johnson, the Corps’ first female Marine enlisted in the Marine Corps,” Harper added. “Today, female Marines serve in 93 percent of all occupational fields and 62 percent of all billets. Women constitute 6.2 percent of the Corps’ end strength and are an integral part of the Marine Corps.”

Master Sgt. Rolanda Bailey

Bailey, a Mobile, Ala., native, believes the month is a good way for people to learn about women’s history as well as acknowledge there are “still a lot of firsts to be achieved” for women especially in leadership roles.

A Marine for 25 years, she will pin on the rank of master gunnery sergeant in April. She will head to Quantico, Va., to be the next enlisted assignment monitor for her military occupational specialty.

“I have been in the Marine Corps for 25 years and for at least 23 of those years there hasn’t been a female (monitor),” Bailey noted.

Even though Bailey doesn’t look at gender when she leads her Marines, she described two other female Marines who inspired her during her career.

“Master Gunnery Sgt. Bessie Reggans was the first female in her military occupational specialty of motor transport,” Bailey said. “She still is a mentor. She just retired and is a great inspiration to me. I can honestly say with the commands I have been in, I haven’t really had the opportunity to work around a lot of females so I guess this would be a first. She was one of the first enlisted ones I have actually had the opportunity to work with in a close nature. Working together, she was one of my firsts.”

“Major Angela Herrera was my first female company commander,” Bailey added. “She was one of those who lead from the front. (She was) somebody you could get advice from.” Bailey, a single parent of two sons, Sydney, 19, a freshman at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Ga.; Sedrik, 15, a sophomore at Lee County High School, Leesburg, Ga.; teaches her Marines how to seek self-improvement through education. To set the example for her sons and her junior Marines, she decided she needed a college degree. “I’m two classes away from getting my associate’s degree from Albany Tech,” Bailey said, noting she was attending through distance learning and was the first Marine to deploy with the program.

She will finish it this fall and then continue with follow-on curriculum at Albany State University to earn her master’s degree in Business Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

Harper and Dean both portrayed Bailey as a role model.

“Master Sergeant Bailey’s supply managerial skills, leadership and contributions to Marine Corps Logistics Command have been immeasurable,” Harper said. “She continues to exhibit all that is expected of a seasoned duty expert in her occupational field. She plays a key part in the command’s supply distribution management and reset efforts.”

Cpl. Dominique Dean

Dean depicted Bailey as someone she would emulate both as a Marine and a contributor to women’s history.

“She is extremely motivated,” Dean said. “She knows how to get work done and I think she is one of the greatest SNCOs I have ever had. She inspires me just by the way she acts and by the way she gets things done. She’s no-nonsense, sticks to business, but she knows how to have fun, though. She leads by example. She does what she says she will do.” She added that Bailey, whom she has known for about nine months, taught Dean to stay motivated through all aspects of being a Marine as well as her personal life to include continuing her education.

Like Bailey, Dean also believes people should learn about women’s history in order to know how far women have come in the past century.

A Marine for nearly three years, the 22-year-old from Puyallup, Wash., is married to Lance Cpl. Ryan Dean, who’s stationed in Yuma, Ariz., as a military policeman. They have a 5-month-old son, Sean.

Dean said she’s wanted to be a Marine since she was 8 years old.

“When I was 8, I think, we were watching a bunch of different recruiting videos just to see the different branches and I remember watching the Marine Corps,” she said. “At first I wanted to be in the Navy Seals, but at the end of the movie they said they weren’t accepting women.”

Dean said she decided on the Marine Corps after watching the video because she knew she could do what it takes to become a Marine, the first in her family. The second oldest of five siblings, she has four brothers ranging from 24-18, and her dad and grandfather both served in the Army.

“They told me I would have a tough time, but to be prepared,” she said. “I kind of already knew what I was getting into. It makes me proud (to be the first Marine).”