Marine Corps Col. Lorna M. Mahlock, the deputy director of Operations, Plans, Policies and Operations at Marine Corps headquarters outside Washington, D.C., will become the first black woman to don the rank of brigadier general thanks to the nomination from the Department of Defense.
The Marine Corps is the smallest of the four military services and has the lowest percentage of female members, according to Marine Corps Community Services.
And just under a hundred women across active duty and reserve Marines are serving in various combat job fields that were previously closed to women.
The first black general in Marine Corps history was Marine aviator Frank E. Petersen Jr. He was selected as a second lieutenant in October 1952 after completing flight training and was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, according to Marine Corps University.
Mahlock received a Masters from the U.S. Army War College and the Naval War College.
Additionally, Mahlock graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor in broadcast journalism in 1991 and earned a Masters degree from the University of Oklahoma in adult and higher education.
Defense Secretary James Mattis made the historic announcement Tuesday, reports CNN. Mahlock currently works as the deputy director of Operations, Plans, Policies, and Operations Directorate at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington.
Mahlock’s assignment to brigadier general opens up doors for other women—especially African Americans. Recruiting efforts for African-Americans and women applicants have been a little down. But since 2012, the Marines have vowed to improve diversity efforts and launched a campaign that they expect will improve their numbers, ABC News reports.
In 2016, Mahlock discussed her experience in the Marine Corps as part of a video dedicated to Women’s History Month.
“Over my 30 years in the Marine Corps, my experience in terms of how women have evolved has been very positive,” she said in the video. “It’s been a steady rise. I’m very, very hopeful.”
Marine Corps Col. Mahlock has had an extensive career in the Marines and has served in the Office of Legislative Affairs and served in Okinawa, Japan. In her post she commands 1,300 troops and civil personnel according to Newsone. Mahlock also oversees $250 million in equipment.