MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Leaders of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron stepped aside to allow female Marines to take charge for a week between Aug. 27 and Sept. 5, 2012, in support of Women’s Equality Month.
Four females participated in the temporary change of command, including 1st Lt. Phoebe D. Riner, legal assistance officer in charge, who took the role of commanding officer of H&HS from Maj. Frederick L. Lewis, and Lt. j.g. Takana L. Skelton,H&HS chaplain, who took over for Maj. Bernard Hess as H&HS executive officer. Gunnery Sgt. Gabriela Richardson, Marine Corps Community Services Marine took over as H&HS sergeant major from Sgt. Maj. Peter W. Ferral, and Sgt. Julia H. Criqui, southside mess hall manager, took over for Gunnery Sgt. Scott W. Hayman, H&HS gunnery sergeant.
All the women who participated said they learned a variety of different things. As the leaders stood to the side, they mentored the women and taught them different aspects on how to fill their roles. Each of the leaders said they believed there was one part of their job that was most important, and found it imperative to teach the Marines that point.
“Maj. Lewis is really trying to teach me the importance of prioritizing, he always is sure to take care of the most important things first,” said Riner. “This morning, the first thing he did was go over and approve special liberty and leave requests, because his Marines are most important to him. He is a big believer in ‘family comes first’ and he is teaching me a lot about knowing what is important and why.”
All the women who assumed the command billets were given the opportunity to learn how to effectively and efficiently perform their command duties.
“I think the most important thing Gunnery Sergeant Hayman wanted me to learn was to have good time management and that you are your own boss, but in order to make things happen, you need to get your orders from above,” said Criqui.
The women’s change of command shows these Marines positions within the Marine Corps they could assume charge of one day.
“I think having this week is [sic] to show women opportunities are great and females do hold these roles, there are female commanding officers and sergeants major out there so it’s really not impossible,” said Criqui.