Born in the hell of a Russian prison, Marine Pvt. Maria Daume has been a fighter her whole life.

Now, she made history alongside three other women as they graduated with infantry contracts from the Marine Corps' East Coast training depot at Parris Island in South Carolina on Friday.


After 10 days of leave, Daume will attend the School of Infantry. The Marine Corps is not releasing the names of the other three women.

"It doesn't matter if you are a male, female, whatever you want; that doesn't mean that you can't fight," she said in a video made by the 1st Infantry Division in September.

The video shows Daume boxing and doing pullups as she prepares for boot camp as a poolee in the Delayed Entry Program. 

Maria Daume: Becoming an Infantry Marine

Poolee Maria Daume, a Long Island native and recipient of an infantry contract, talks about her desire and determination to serve her country as an infantry Marine.

Daume's mother was being held in a Russian prison when Maria and her twin brother were born. The two children lived in the prison for two years until their mother died. After spending two more years in an orphanage, they were adopted by a family in Long Island, New York.

"Other kids would bully me consistently from when I was four to my senior year of high school," Daume said in a September 1st Infantry Division news story. "It would be for being Russian or being adopted. They would say things about my mom and why she was in prison even if no one knew why. Bullying was a big thing."

Growing up, Daume was formed to be physically and mentally tough through playing sports and doing mixed martial arts and jiujitsu, she said in the story.

Born in Russian Prison, N.Y. native becomes U.S. Marine

Rct. Maria I. Daume during the Crucible Jan. 5-6, 2017. Daume is originally from Russia and was adopted and brought to the U.S. Daume is from Selden, N.Y. and is scheduled to graduate Jan. 13, 2016.


"With MMA it is all about staying calm and not getting angry," she said. "If you get angry you can make stupid mistakes. I know how to get hit and keep cool. With the team sports, you have to work together. When you're a team, you're a family."

Daume first became interested in becoming a Marine when she was 12 years old and met recruiters at an anti-cancer event, according to the Marine Corps. She was a poolee when all combat jobs were opened to women, so she applied for an infantry contract.

"I was driving when (my recruiter) called me," Daume said in the news story.  "He said, 'Are you sure you want this?' I said confidently, 'Yes.' He then congratulated me and told me I got (the infantry contract.) I was so excited I had to stop the car and call my best friend and tell her."

On Jan. 6, Daume received her eagle, globe and anchor after completing the Crucible, the grueling 54-hour capstone of recruit training. She stood at attention as the Marines' Hymn played, marking her entry into the Corps.