Rose Noel of Onslow County was the first female gunnery sergeant in the marine corps to earn a purple heart after her 2005 deployment to Iraq. Seven months in, she was hit with shrapnel from an indirect rocket fired overhead. Doctors say Noel's injury was millimeters from a critical artery in the cheek. If hit, she could have easily bled out. Years later, after making military history, Noel says she's excited to see female marines continue to build on the ground she's already broken.
"Some people are still on that cusp of should women be in combat. Well I got a purple heart, so I guess we are. We may not be on the front lines, but there are no true, defined front lines anymore," said Noel.
Noel retired from the marine corps in January 2009.