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Blood sisters and sisters in arms: 2 sets of sisters graduate Marine boot camp together

Philip Athey

Blood sisters and sisters in arms: 2 sets of sisters graduate Marine boot camp together
For many Marine recruits, the comrades they endure boot camp with are quickly seen as brothers or sisters in arms.

But for five new Marines, the sisterhood was more than metaphorical.

In early November two sets of sisters ― Ashley and Amber Valentine, along with Maria, Vanessa and Melissa Placido Jaramillo ― graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, alongside each other.

The sisters pushed each other through the hard times of boot camp and motivated each other to perform to the best of their ability.

For Pfc. Ashley Valentine, a 19-year-old from Manassas, Virginia, her path to the Corps started when she was just 12 years old.

“When I was 12, I had both my uncle and my grandpa die six months in between each other,” Valentine said in a video posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.

Her grandfather was a Marine Corps veteran, Valentine said.

“Three days before my grandpa passed away, I promised him that I was going to become a Marine and when he died, I made that my life’s mission,” Valentine said in the video.

The hard part was getting her sister to join.

The new Pfc. Amber Valentine, 22, was “not really a military person,” according to her sister. But, one day roughly three months after Ashley Valentine was in the Marine Corps poolee program waiting to be shipped to boot camp, she was able to convince her sister to come to a function.

“After talking with the recruiter about how it would impact my life, I was committed,” Amber Valentine said in a Marine Corps press release. “I was ready to go no matter what.”

Amber Valentine said, “I felt kind of shocked she was in for the ride.”

The Placido Jaramillo sisters, natives of Panama who immigrated at a young age to the U.S., made a pact at a young age to all join the military together, according to a Marine Corps press release.

Pfc. Maria Placido Jaramillo was the driving force among the sisters to join the Corps, inspired to join after watching the 2003 action movie “Tears of the Sun,” according to the news release.

Pfcs. Melissa and Vanessa, 22-year-old twins, are both a year older than their sister and had to wait until she was old enough to enlist before they started the process, they said.

While going through the rigors of boot camp the sisters helped push each other and keep everyone motivated to graduate.

“When one of us is lacking and the other is strong in that area, we always push each other to become to best we can be,” Melissa Placido Jaramillo said in the Corps’ press release.

Maria Placido Jaramillo said the sisters had “an unbreakable bond.”

“We are always together, but we know how to live separately. I know that my sisters will always be there for me, even when they are not physically with me,” she added in the press release.

For the Valentine sisters it was the daily debriefs about what they could improve on that helped push them through boot camp.

“We would sit in the racks at night, after the drill instructors went into the senior drill instructors house and we would talk about what happened that day, what we could have done better, what the other one shouldn’t have said,” Ashley Valentine said in the video.

Ashley Valentine had a bad habit of saying “I” a banned word in Marine Corps training where recruits are forced to refer to themselves in the third person.

“For the most part we just kind of calmed each other down, if the other one was kind of down that day and not really motivated, the other one would pick up the other person’s slack,” Ashley Valentine said.

All the new Marines have moved on to Marine Combat Training, except for Ashley Valentine who is still at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, recovering from a fractured hip, according to the press release.

Ashley Valentine eventually will become a motor transportation operator, while Amber Valentine will enter the communication field, according to the press release.

None of the Placido Jaramillo sister know what their military occupational specialty will be yet, but Maria Placido Jaramillo said she was excited to find out.

Her two sisters plan on continuing their college education with Melissa Placido Jaramillo double majoring in political science and medical science, while her twin Vanessa Placido Jaramillo is double majoring in political science and legal science, according to the press release.

All three Placido Jaramillo sisters are in the process of becoming nationalized citizens, according to the release.

For all five new Marines getting experience the trial of boot camp and transforming from a civilian to a Marine was a unique experience.

“Not only are we blood sisters, but we are sisters in arms,” Ashley Valentine said.


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