While she was at The Basic School, 2nd Lt. Mariah Klenke decided to become the Marine Corps’ first female assault amphibian officer.

“We were going over all of the MOSs and [amphibious assault vehicles] popped up and to me it just stuck out,” Klenke told Marine Corps Times. “You get to keep the Marine Corps amphibious; you’re still working with the infantry; the Tracks are pretty sweet.”

On Tuesday morning, Klenke earned the military occupational specialty 1803 for assault amphibian officer when she graduated from the Assault Amphibian Officer Course at Camp Pendleton, California.

“The Marine Corps and Training Command congratulate 2ndLt Klenke and her classmates on their graduation from Assault Amphibian Officer Course,” Brigadier General Jason Bohm, commanding general for Training Command, said on Tuesday. “We wish her, and the entire class, the best of luck in their future endeavors as leaders of Marines.”

The toughest part of the 12-week course was when her class practiced amphibious operations, Klenke said.

For one week, she and the other Marines planned and executed three to four missions per day, requiring long hours of planning.

Now, Klenke will be assigned as a platoon commander at the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, where she will be responsible for 12 to 14 AAVs, she said. The amphibious vehicles give the Marine Corps the ability to get ashore without being detected, helping the infantry take their objectives.

The first female officer graduated from the Assault Amphibian Officer course.

“I really enjoy being a Marine Corps officer and being able to make history, and becoming the first female AAV officer is a privilege and an honor,” said Klenke, who is originally from Saint Rose, Illinois. “I’m excited to get out to the fleet and start leading Marines.”

Being an AAV officer is hard work that involves getting dirty, but Klenke became a Marine because she wanted to test herself, she said.

“I thought the Marine Corps was the best and the most challenging, and I like to be challenged,” Klenke said.

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