This week’s America250 salute is Marine Veteran Angela Salinas, who was the highest-ranking woman in the service at the time of her retirement.

This week’s America250 salute is Marine Veteran Angela Salinas.

Angela Salinas grew up in Texas with four older siblings. She attended the Dominican University of California (DUC), where she struggled during her first few semesters. During her second year, Salinas met a Marine recruiter while she was dropping off a letter at the mailroom. A week after hearing the recruiter’s pitch, Salinas decided to join. She took her oath on May 4, and on May 7 she left for basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Salinas started basic training in 1974 as the Vietnam War was coming to a close. At this time, the Marine Corps was almost 90% male, and Salinas said that she was attracted to “the idea that I would be fewer than the few and the proud.” Salinas was part of the first gender-integrated officer training program.

When discussing basic training, Salinas said, “I had to learn that there was no me. Better to have the team succeed and you just be a part of that team.”

After completing her training, Salinas returned to DUC, saying the training, “ignited in me a passion to want to do something greater than myself.”

Despite her past struggles at DUC, Salinas returned to school with confidence, making the dean’s list and graduating as the outstanding student of her class.

In 1977 Salinas graduated from DUC with a degree in history. During that same year, she was chosen for the Enlisted Commissioning Program, and she was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Then, she went to Cherry Point, North Carolina, with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, where she worked as a legal service officer. In 1980, she returned to Parris Island, South Carolina, serving as a series commander, executive officer and battalion operations officer in the Woman Recruit Training Command. Salinas continued to progress in her military career by taking on a variety of higher positions. In 1989, she became the first woman to command a recruiting station, working in Charleston, South Carolina.

Salinas continued her barrier-breaking trek in 1992, becoming the first woman to be assigned as a combat service support ground monitor. In this role, Salinas was responsible for more than 1,000 others. She also graduated with a master’s from the Naval War College that same year. In 1999, she was the first woman to be an assistant chief of staff for plans and policy of a major combatant command. Then, in 2001, Salinas took command of the 12th Marine Corps District. She became the first woman to be a recruiting district commanding officer.

Her growth in leadership during her service pinnacled when she became the first Hispanic woman to be a brigadier general in the Corps in 2006 and the first woman to command the Marine Corps Depot (western recruiting region) in San Diego. When discussing her personal achievements, as well as recognizing the impact these achievements had on others, Salinas said, “As I became more senior in my career, I found more young people kind of being drawn to me. It was kind of this gradual transformation for me personally. I always just wanted to be a good Marine. Not a good woman Marine, not a good Hispanic Marine. Just a good Marine. As I matured professionally, I kind of recognized the responsibility I had.”

After 39 years of service, Salinas retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 as a major general. At the time of her retirement, Salinas was the highest-ranking woman in the service. During her time, Salinas received a Navy Distinguished Service Medal, a Defense Superior Service Medal, a Legion of Merit with gold star and many other medals.

Salinas is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. She has occupied that position since 2015. Formerly a Girl Scout herself, she hopes to be able to continue to promote girls’ leadership.

Thank you for your service!


America250

VA is highlighting 250 Veterans leading up to July 4, 2026, which marks 250 years of independence. Learn more about the count down to 250 years of the American spirit at https://america250.org/.


Contributors

Writer: Kimberly Kassis

Editors: Annabelle Colton, Wilson S. Sainvil

Fact Checker: Abby Sonnier

Graphic Designer: Grace Yang

By VAntage Point Contributor

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Published on Sep. 15, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.5 min.

Views to date: 810

5 Comments

  1. Richard T.D. Ga'mez, Capt. USAF (RET) September 23, 2022 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Truly Inspiring…Congrats!

  2. Jeanne Botwright, LtCol, USMC Ret’d September 22, 2022 at 8:45 am - Reply

    I have met the General and she is truly a role model and a “real” advocate for all women, military and civilian.

  3. Miriam September 20, 2022 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Amazing person! Thanks for your service and example for all!

  4. Maribel Fradera September 20, 2022 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your service your dedication to this nation as Veteran myself I salute you keep the good work.

    SSG Maribel Fradera

  5. louis a nieves September 15, 2022 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    i salute my fellow hispanic veteran!

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