On a sunny Sunday morning in her family’s Mattituck backyard, Skyler Grathwohl stepped into history.
Via a remote connection on a laptop, in front of her proud family, Ms. Grathwohl, 22, was sworn in as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, ending with the iconic words “so help me God.” She made her first salute as an officer to a round of applause and a champagne toast.
In September she will report to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia for six months of officer training. From there, the sky is the limit – literally. She is hoping to attend flight school to learn how to fly the V-22 Osprey helicopter.
“I have wanted this since I was in Mattituck High School,” she said.
This month she graduated from Norwich University in Vermont. Her experience in NJROTC in high school and the university shaped her views of both the world around her, but also what she wanted to achieve for herself.
From today on, she knows, her life will never be the same. For starters she is committed to the Marines for a minimum of eight years. Beyond that, she will decide if she wants to remain in the Corps and make a career out of it.
“In my sophomore year in high school, Major [William] Grigonis took our group to Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, and I knew from that point what I wanted,” she said. “Everything about the Marine Corps stood out for me.”
Standing with Ms. Grathwohl at her swearing in, Maj. Grigonis knew history was being made in this Mattituck backyard. For 19 years he has run the NJROTC program in Mattituck, Southold and Greenport school districts. He said he felt emotional when Ms. Grathwohl was sworn in.
“In my 19 years, this is the very first female I’ve sworn into the Marine Corps,” he said. “I felt tears in my eyes when the ceremony was going on. This is great for Skyler, but it’s also history in the making. She started with the program in the ninth grade, and rose through the ranks and here we are today. It’s wonderful.”
In a non-pandemic time, Sunday’s ceremony would have taken place at Norwich University. Saturday would have been graduation day, and Sunday commissioning day.
“All my peers would have been there in Vermont, and it would have been very special,” she said. “But here at home, with my family, this was a blessing.”
For her part, Ms. Grathwohl knows she is making history – but that’s not the point to her. “I don’t see the difference between a female and a female Marine. We do everything everyone else is doing.”
She grew up in a house where public service and getting the job done was on full display. Her father, Ned Grathwohl, retired as a Southold Town Police Department detective in 2018 after a career that began in 1984.
“We are just very, very proud of her,” Mr. Grathwohl said of he and his wife, Danielle. “She set her mind to this and made it happen.”