US Navy: First female sailors graduate in blue jumper uniform

A number of female sailors graduating boot camp with their division on December 2 made history by becoming the first U.S. Navy sailors to graduate with the new female enlisted dress blue jumper uniform.

Previously, the uniform traditionally known as the dress blue “Crackerjack” has only been worn by males, but as part of the Navy’s efforts towards uniformity in service members’ uniforms, will now also be worn by females.

“We are excited to introduce the new female dress blue jumpers here at Recruit Training Command,” said Capt. Michael Garrick, commanding officer, RTC. “Our new sailors look great. The new jumpers improve the uniformity of the graduating divisions, and ultimately make them even more cohesive units.”

Division 904, the state flags graduation performing division, contained the first enlisted female recruits issued the dress blue jumpers when they arrived in October. Additional female recruits at the Navy’s only boot camp have superseded these historical female recruits and are being issued their new uniforms.

The uniform was designed and tailored exactly like the enlisted male dress blue jumpers, with 13 buttons on the trousers and the jumper top with a flap. The new jumper top has incorporated a side zipper, and the trousers will have a front zipper to help with changing in and out of uniform. The old female uniform with jacket and tie for female petty officers and junior sailors will be phased out.

“It felt great to have been one of the first females to get issued the uniform,” said seaman recruit Leah Mendiola, after trying on her dress blue jumper top. “It’s an amazing feeling to wear the same uniform as my male brothers serving our great country and be part of making history. It’s really awesome how something as simple as our uniform is a historical symbol developing equality and the uniformity in our great military.”

She expressed a sense of honor in being one the first females part of the Navy’s transition of the sailor’s uniform.

During eight weeks of basic training, the female recruits are trained on the proper wear and care of the new dress blue uniform. During a recent personnel inspection, the female recruits lined up in their compartment for their final uniform inspection.

During their sixth week of training, Division 904 performed in a graduation ceremony where the females wore the dress blue jumper top publicly for the first time in Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall.

In addition to uniformity, the change also marks continued progress towards equality among sailors.

“I like being able to wear the same uniform as them, because the Navy stresses a lot about equal opportunity and now I actually feel equal with these uniforms,” said Mendiola.

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks, and all enlistees into the United States Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes seamanship, firearms familiarization, firefighting and shipboard damage control, lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork, and discipline. Since the closure of RTCs in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is, today, the Navy’s only basic training location, and is known as “The Quarterdeck of the Navy.”

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