Sneads Ferry woman makes history as first female MEU sergeant major

Lanette N. Wright

Col. Scott Benedict, commanding officer, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, passes the sword to incoming Sgt. Maj. Lanette N. Wright, the first female Marine sergeant major of a MEU, on March 14 at II MEF Headquarters, aboard Camp Lejeune.

John Althouse/The Daily News
Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 12:05 PM.

“It isn’t a job for a female or a male,” Sgt. Maj. Lanette Wright explains of her new role. “It’s a job for a Marine.”

Wright took over as senior advisor for the 24 Marine Expeditionary Unit following a relief and appointment ceremony on March 14. At that time, Wright became the first woman to serve as the sergeant major for the 24th MEU.

The 45-year-old who lives in Sneads Ferry said she wants Marines, both men and women, to embrace the changing face of the Marine Corps and the broadening spectrum of billets women will fill in the future. Selected for her new billet by an array of sergeants major, Wright feels as though her vast knowledge of both MEU and Marine Air Ground Task Force operations make her well-suited for the role.

 Be ing the sergeant major for a MEU is a job for a Marine, which makes me perfectly qualified,” Wright said. “For those who don’t want me to hold the billet, embrace the change and get comfortable with it because it’s going to happen. There’s always going to be discomfort with decisions to put women in certain roles; but until we prove their opinions right, why shouldn’t we hold the job?”

Marine Col. Scott Benedict, the 24th MEU’s CO, said that the Marine Corps is a merit-based establishment and the rank of sergeant major is a coveted rank reserved for the best and brightest leaders. While Wright’s appointment as the MEU’s sergeant major is due to her exceptional service record, he said it is historic because she is the first female to hold the billet.

“Sgt. Ma j. Wright brings broad expeditionary experience as a Marine operating aboard ships and on land in almost every major operation the Corps has conducted in the last 25 years,” Benedict said. “She knows MEUs. She knows Marines. She knows what to do.”

The new role, according to Wright, is the “ultimate” job for her and falls within the natural progression of her career. Joining the Marine Corps as a communications center operator and later transitioning to data communications chief, Wright said that her dream has always been to reach not only the rank of sergeant major but to hold her future billet with the MEU.

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