CLEVELAND, Ohio --
Earning the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor is mostly commonly described as one of the most memorable moments in a person’s life. So it is not surprising that a parent would want that same experience for their children. For one member of the Recruiting Station Cleveland team this great experience was able to happen while he is still serving in the Marine Corps.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Barker, Staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Recruiting Substation Tri-County was taken by surprise when his stepdaughter, Pfc. Jessica Lopez, let the family know that she intended to join the Marine Corps.
“Initially, I thought she was joking,” explained the 34-year-old, Bethel, Ohio native. “She had never really mentioned anything about the military before and I think we all just assumed that she would follow her older sister to Arizona State.”
While her family thought that college in Arizona would likely be her choice for life after high school, Lopez had different plans.
“I had been thinking about it since my freshman year of high school,” said the 18-year-old, Yuma, Ariz. born woman.
She enlisted in June of 2012 out of RSS Canton where her father previously served as a recruiter.
“The opportunities that are available in the Marine Corps always appealed to me, but it was getting a chance to see the type of Marine my dad is really inspired me,” she said. “I was inspired by his work ethic, especially after becoming a recruiter. He worked so hard, but still took care of his family. That’s something that I’ve wanted for myself.”
Lopez said that it was Barker’s experience that made her most feel like she was making the right decision.
“My family was very supportive of my decision and my dad really helped me with all the information I needed to make the right choice,” she said.
That choice got her an all-expense paid trip to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC. Lopez graduated from recruit training August 16th of this year and is currently enrolled at her Military Occupational Specialty school in Pensacola, Fla., where upon successful completion of her course, she will become an air traffic controller.
Though she has been a Marine just a short time, Lopez has big plans for herself and her time in the Corps.
“I hope to do a B-billet while I’m in the Corps,” she gushed. “Both MSG (Marine Security Guard) and drill instructor seem so inspiring.”
One thing is for sure, no matter what she decides to do during her time in the Marine Corps her decision to take her place among the few has begun the next chapter in the new family tradition.