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Marine Discards Flute, Picks Up Reins

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel Ranney
Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif., Dec. 20, 2012 – In 1918, Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. At that time, women were only allowed to perform clerical duties to aid the men who were fighting overseas during World War I.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Cpl. Cherisess Paige, a stableman with the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard stationed at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow in California, poses in front of the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Dec. 11, 2012. Paige’s unit presented colors during the opening ceremony for the 2012 National Finals Rodeo at the center. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Samuel Ranney

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Today, women make up about six percent of the Marine Corps.

Women serve in hundreds of different jobs in the Corps, including a very prestigious military occupational specialty: the last remaining Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard.

Marine Corps Cpl. Cherisess Paige, a 21-year-old stableman assigned to the mounted color guard here, is one of the first women to receive official orders to the unit.

Such positions had previously only been given to infantrymen, said Marine Corps Sgt. Edgar Torrealba, who’s also a stableman with the mounted color guard here.

“My first impression of Paige was that she was a squared-away Marine. She is very knowledgeable and willing to take advice and put it into action,” Torrealba said.

Paige, who calls Texas her home, said she was born in Panama and raised as a “military brat” whose father was in the Army.

Paige was seven years old, she said, when she came to America with her family. She excelled academically in high school.

“I was the ‘nerd’ in high school. I was taking many advanced placement classes and was accepted into a lot of good colleges,” Paige said. “My family and friends were surprised when I chose the Marine Corps before finishing school. I wanted to do something stable and have a sure way to pay for college. I also have a lot of respect for the Marine Corps.”

Paige joined the Marine Corps in July 2010 as a musician with the band at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in California.

“I played the flute and the piccolo,” Paige said. “I love music and I loved being a part of the Marine Corps Band.”

Paige had another passion and an even greater devotion than the one she had for music: horses.

“I love horses. They are, by far, my favorite animal,” she said. “I rode my grandma’s personal horses every chance I got while growing up.”

Paige was first introduced to the Marine Corps’ mounted color guard unit in July 2011 during the commanding general’s change of command ceremony at Twentynine Palms.

“At first sight I immediately wanted to be a part of the unit. I was amazed,” she said. “I put in a request as soon as I could but could not quite leave the band [yet].”

On Jan. 1, 2012, the band at Twentynine Palms was disbanded due to budget cuts. With the elimination of the band came the opportunity Paige was looking for.

“In February 2012, I had been temporarily assigned to the MCG. I was interviewed about my experiences with horses and I also showed my ability to ride, maintain and handle the horses,” Paige said.

Paige put down her flute in April and became a part of the last mounted color guard unit in the Marine Corps.

Torrealba said his favorite memory working with Paige was at the Houston Rodeo in Texas. It was Paige’s first trip with the unit, he said, and the beginning of a strong bond that she formed with the mounted color guard.

The city of Houston is Paige’s favorite memory so far, she said. She explained that although she was still too new to participate in the actual event, it felt great to be a part of it and to help with the preparations.

“I loved my time in Houston. It was a huge event and I got to show my family and friends what I do,” Paige said. “They were all very impressed. I cannot wait until next year’s [Houston Rodeo] to actually ride in the event in front of my home state.”

After her first enlistment concludes, Paige plans on either re-enlisting and returning to the Marine Corps Band or becoming a full-time student and getting her bachelor’s degree. Whatever she does, her coworkers believe that Paige has a bright future ahead of her.

“Corporal Paige is an exceptionally hard worker who expects nothing less than perfection on a daily basis. She always goes above and beyond,” Torrealba said.

Paige said she loves to serve her country and to travel.

Whether it’s playing a musical instrument or riding a mustang — her coworkers agree that Paige has a flair for entertaining patriotic audiences across America.

“I love what I do as a United States Marine,” she said.

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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