Marines get a female commander at Parris Island

Remember the days when the Marine Corps advertised that it was "Looking for a few good men"?

How times have changed.

These days, the Marines are recruiting women as well, and there seems to be no limit to how high they can go.

CBS News weekend anchor Russ Mitchell visits with the new commanding officer of a legendary Marine Corps post.

At Parris Island, South Carolina, there is a sign on the way in that makes things clear: Here is where they make Marines.

Now, this Marine factory has a new foreman, or, more correctly, forewoman: Brigadier General Loretta Reynolds.

"There are times now that I wake up in the morning and I say, 'Am I really here? Am I really at Parris Island?'" says Reynolds.

General Reynolds took command of Parris Island on June 17th and she's already made history as the first woman to lead the Marine recruiting depot here. It's a distinction she acknowledges, but won't dwell on.

Reynolds is one of only two active female generals in the Marines.

At 6 feet tall, she cuts an impressive, and potentially imposing figure. But it's her stature as a leader that has earned her respect. A 1986 graduate and former basketball player at the Naval Academy, she is the first female Marine to hold a command position in a battle zone -- which she did when she was stationed in Afghanistan. Now she'll not just lead Marines, but create them.

"At the end of the day, we push them to be more than they ever thought they could be," Reynolds says.

This is a tough place. As the July sun baked Parris Island, CBS News joined General Reynolds as she observed her first "crucible" - a 54-hour test of strength, endurance, and teamwork that each recruit must pass before being called a United States Marine.

Reynolds says becoming a Marine is as hard as they can possibly make it.

"We have to make it hard because our nation expects the United States Marine Corps to be its 911 force, to always be ready to always do the right thing when the situation requires it," Reynolds says.

Parris Island graduates 20,000 Marines every year. Male recruits from east of the Mississippi, and all female recruits come here to join the Corps.

"It's an honor, it's a blessing, and I am going to work hard every day to take good care of this depot and the Marines here," Reynolds says.