‘Fraternization’

Pioneering Marine Corps infantrywoman being discharged for relationship with subordinate

Corporal Remedios Cruz (YouTube)

One of the first women to enter the Marines and become an infantry member is set to be discharged from the Corps after she confessed to engaging in a relationship with a subordinate, a fellow Marine to whom she is now married. Corporal Remedios Cruz, 26, one of three woman to join First Battalion, Eighth Marines in January 2017, had been charged with fraternization, adultery, and accessory to larceny in separate investigations that would have been tried in a court-martial in June. During a pretrial hearing, the presiding officer had concluded there was no probable cause for the adultery and larceny charges and recommended that Cruz, who hails from Fleischmanns, New York, be given a simple administrative or financial punishment for fraternizing with the lower-ranking officer who is now her husband, noting that the two were already married before the charges were filed against her. But after her battalion commander, Lt. Col. Anthony Johnston, insisted that all three charges should go to trial, Cruz agreed to a plea agreement in which she admitted engaging in fraternization.

Following her confession, Cruz had her rank reduced to corporal from sergeant. The commanding general of the Second Marine Division will determine whether or not she leaves with a dishonorable discharge or an honorable one. Mike Berry, a reservist Marine Corps judge advocate, has said that fraternization within the military is not uncommon but rarely punished, and that it was even more rare for a commander to demand a court-martial after a pretrial hearing ruled no probable cause on the charges.

“The biggest mistakes I’ve made in the infantry were from my personal relationships,” Cruz acknowledged in an interview. “I really want to move on.”

According to military documents obtained by the New York Times, she had been one of just 24 women serving in the Marine Corps infantry. Around the time she officially became an infantry member, Cruz was the subject of a Marine Corps video in which she talked about her personal story and entering the Marines, a branch of the military that’s long been male-dominated. “Growing up, I was told — and even told myself at times — that I’d never leave Fleischmanns. I would look up at the Catskill Mountains wishing I was over them,” she says in the video. “Earning the title of infantrywoman was tough. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Watch the video below.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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