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Staff Sgt. Monica Preston, assistant drum major and clarinet instrumentalist with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band and Massillon, Ohio native, demonstrates mace movements during band practice aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 22. Preston often assists other Marines as they learn the appropriate motions and commands to lead the band during ceremonies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lillian Stephens/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Lillian Stephens

Working in Harmony: women Marines in the 3rd MAW Band

25 Mar 2016 | Story by Sgt. Lillian Stephens 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

March is Women’s History Month and in many ways, women’s roles have steadily evolved in the Marine Corps.

During World War I and World War II, female Marines took over much of the clerical work within the United States “to free a man to fight” overseas. Today, women have integrated into nearly every military occupational specialty in the Marine Corps, ranging from pilots and maintainers to technicians and even musicians.

Staff Sgt. Monica Preston, the assistant drum major and a clarinet instrumentalist with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band and a Massillon, Ohio native, has served in the Marine Corps for 11 years and enlisted after completing a degree in music education. She said women offer a different dynamic in the workplace.

“A lot of people tend to look at us and judge us by strength,” said Preston. “But there are also a lot of ways we contribute to the workplace environment. We’re very good at communication and multitasking.”

As the assistant drum major and clarinet instrumentalist, Preston must lead the band during performances, process musical support requests, monitor band operations, look after the band’s administrative needs and play the clarinet in the wind ensemble.

“I think I contribute a very high work ethic,” said Preston. “I think a lot of times when Marines see me … they know they’re going to work. I push myself as hard as I push them.”

As a new Marine with the 3rd MAW Band, Lance Cpl. Samantha Spiezio, a flute instrumentalist and Saratoga Springs, New York native, said the camaraderie between Marines in the unit is not hampered by gender integration.

“It’s really not hard blending in this unit,” said Spiezio. “There’s no divide between the genders here even though we have four females. It’s honestly really easy to bond with everyone here.”

Both past and present members of the 3rd MAW Band have deployed to support Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as several other engagements.

“In those instances, the Marine’s primary job isn’t to go over there and to play a movement,” said Preston. “In a combat role, there’s a myriad of different ways that we can be utilized. But [we are] most commonly [used] in some security force role.”

According to Preston, music is something everyone can identify with and the role it plays in events often leaves a positive impression on spectators.

“I try to demonstrate that for Marines, that hard work and being dedicated to the job can really pay off for them,” said Preston. “Having that good initiative and good judgment … hard work will pay off.”

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