FORT MEADE, Md. --
Military entrance processing stations from around the United States have been dedicating their ceremony rooms over the past 14 months to servicemembers who sacrificed their lives. These rooms are home to a profound experience shared by all members of the armed services - the oath of enlistment.
The Baltimore MEPS dedicated their ceremony room here Saturday to the memory of Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, slain February 2007 in Barwanah, Iraq, defending her comrades from a female suicide bomber.
“There are special moments in life, when those of us who make military service a part of our life are reminded why we serve,” said retired Maj. Kenneth Quiner, Parcell’s former company commander at Landing Support Company, 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group. “That service begins here in the MEPS, in a ceremony room like this one, that has been dedicated to Corporal Parcell today.”
Parcell, a Bel Air, Md., native, is the 30th servicemember or unit and the first woman to be honored for her service in a MEPS Eastern Sector ceremony room dedication.
Parcell served as a landing support specialist in several areas including Pakistan, Okinawa and Iraq, amongst other duties.
“She volunteered to serve as a ‘lioness’ for her last month in Iraq,” Quiner said. “The ‘lionesses’ are female Marines who are needed to search local females who are passing through military checkpoints.
“Corporal Parcell was going to be redeployed to Okinawa in only two weeks when she was killed by a local suicide bomb.”
Parcell’s family was on hand for the ceremony, dedicating to Parcell the very room where she made her oath of enlistment June, 2004.
Being a Marine is what Parcell wanted to do with her life, said Sandra Parcell, aunt of Jennifer Parcell who spoke at the dedication ceremony. She was pleased to see that her niece would be honored in such a profound place as where young men and women make an oath to support and defend the Constitution.
From now on, a smiling face in dark complexion and dressed in Marine Corps dress blues will bear witness to all who swear-in here in the future - a photo of Parcell, citation and display of awarded medals adorn the wall in a dedication plaque.
The first five servicemembers, one from each branch of service, gave their oaths in the newly dedicated, flag-draped ceremony room after the mounting of the plaque. Every word resonating off the hardwood clads of the room.
“Like Jennifer did four years ago this month, many men and women have entered this building, stepped into that room, volunteer to serve our country, continue to display an unrivaled devotion to this country through a willingness to swear an oath to protect the United States of America,” said Army Col. Robert S. Larsen, commander of Baltimore MEPS. “I believe that those who have died have done so for an ideal enshrined in that Constitution that the Congress passed.”
In a wide range of emotional acts, from tears to laughter, a reception was held at the end of events so those who knew her or may only know of her could speak of her memory.
“Today we honor the enthusiasm and faith that Corporal Jennifer Parcel displayed for all that will pass through this room to your right in the future,” Larsen said. “She will symbolize a nobility of selfless service to our country.”