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Military Entrance Processing Stations Memorialize Fallen Troops

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 – The Baltimore Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort Meade, Md., will dedicate its ceremony room tomorrow to Marine Corps Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, a fallen hero who processed through its doors and into the Marine Corps two days after her 18th birthday.

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Army 1st Lt. Rob Lozzi, assistant operations officer at the Boston Military Entrance Processing Station, and Army Staff Sgt. Eric Sansoucie, Boston MEPS operations noncommissioned officer, prepare to mount a memorial plaque during a March 18, 2009, ceremony designating the 1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Ceremony Room. Bacevichprocessed through the station's ceremony room in 2004 and was killed in Iraq in May 2007. Looking on, from left, are: Army Lt. Col Kevin Dunlop, Bacevich's former battalion commander; Army Col. Barrye L. Price, commander of U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command's Eastern Sector; and Bacevich’s parents, Andrew and Nancy Bacevich. Courtesy photo
  

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Parcell, a Maryland native, died protecting her fellow Marines during a deployment to Iraq in February 2007. She had volunteered for the Lioness program, in which she searched female Iraqis at a checkpoint in Anbar province. She was carrying out the mission when she died at the hands of a female suicide bomber.

Parcell will become the 30th fallen servicemember – and the first woman -- to be immortalized by a Military Entrance Processing Station within U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command’s Eastern Sector. The initiative honors fallen troops at the facility where they swore their oath to protect and defend the United States and its Constitution, Army Col. Barrye Price, the Eastern Sector commander, said.

Price came up with the concept after escorting the remains of his mentor’s son home from Dover Air Force Base, Del. He said the magnitude of that task drove home the significance of what the 34 MEPS stations he commands do every day.

“We process volunteers from across our country into our military services at a time when our nation and its military is embroiled in armed combat in two different theaters,” he said.

The station, one of the three busiest in the country, serves as the link between the military and recruits from Maryland, the District of Columbia and parts of Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia. Its staff administers a flurry of tests– a medical exam, drug test and HIV test, among them – to ensure they’re fit for duty. Another test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, ensures they meet the military’s aptitude standards.

By the day’s end, recruits who entered the station as civilians before 5:30 a.m. leave as new members of the armed forces who have signed their military contracts and taken the oath of enlistment. From there, they proceed to their service’s basic military training.

Price said he wants to ensure that his predominately civilian work force appreciates the commitment that the nation’s young people are making and the sacrifices they stand ready to make.

These employees are “sending youngsters who could pay the last full measure of devotion for our nation -- possibly within just a year of duty,” he said. “We must embrace and honor these warriors, as they are protecting the values and freedoms that we hold dear as a nation.”

As future servicemembers process through the MEPS, Price said, he wants them to feel a personal connection to those immortalized there.

“This provides new enlistees with a real and tangible figure who they can identify with,” he said. “This is somebody who walked these same halls, who sat in the same chairs and went through the exact same process that they’re going through.”

For example, all 12,000 future soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who will process this year at the Baltimore MEPS will learn Parcell’s story and see her memorialized as they enter the ceremony room to take their oath of enlistment, Price said.

“Every one of them will know who Jennifer Parcell is as a result of that,” he said. “Thousands of kids who process through this room will get to know who she was and what her contributions were to this nation.”

Most importantly, Price said, he wants the dedication to assure the Parcell family that their daughter’s sacrifice hasn’t been forgotten.

“President Calvin Coolidge said that a nation that forgets its defenders will itself one day be forgotten,” Price said. “This dedication will serve as absolute proof to the Parcell family that Jennifer was not just a name or Social Security number. Jennifer was an appreciated member of a team who will now be immortalized.”

Missing at this weekend’s dedication ceremony will be Parcell’s brother, Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Parcell, who is based in Okinawa, Japan. Army Col. Robert S. Larsen, commander of the Baltimore MEPS, said he plans to send him a video of the ceremony.

Two additional dedications – one at the MEPS in Cleveland and one in Jacksonville, Fla. -- are slated for next week.

The Cleveland MEPS will honor Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric M. Barnes of Lorain, Ohio, during a June 10 ceremony. Barnes died June 10, 2007, near Forward Operating Base Scania in Iraq as a result of a roadside bomb attack.

Two days later, on June 12, the Jacksonville MEPS will honor Army Sgt. Bradley Crose. The Orange Park, Fla., native was killed in action March 4, 2002, during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.

Other fallen heroes honored at the MEPS ceremony rooms where they were sworn into the military, listed in the order in which the dedications occurred, are:

-- Army Pfc. Jason D. Hasenauer of Hilton, N.Y., who was memorialized at the Syracuse, N.Y., MEPS on Feb. 28, 2008. Hasenauer was killed Dec. 28, 2005, when his Humvee rolled over during patrol operations near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

-- Marine Sgt. Shawn P. Martin of Delmar, N.Y., who was memorialized at the Albany, N.Y., MEPS on Aug. 1, 2008. Martin died June 20, 2007, while conducting combat operations in Saqlawiyah, Iraq.

-- Army Cpl. Steven R. Koch of Milltown, N.J., who was memorialized at the Fort Dix, N.J., MEPS on Jan. 14, 2009. Koch was killed March 3, 2008, in Afghanistan’s Sabari district of wounds suffered during combat operations.

-- Army Pvt. Dwayne A. Covert Jr. of Tonawanda, N.Y., who was memorialized at the Buffalo, N.Y., MEPS Jan. 16, 2009. Covert died Nov. 3, 2007 in Iraq.

-- Army Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin, of Botavia, Ohio, who was memorialized Jan. 26, 2009, at the Columbus, Ohio, MEPS. Iraqi insurgents captured Maupin April 9, 2004, and his captors released a videotape showing him in captivity. His whereabouts remained unknown until the Army found and positively identified his remains in March 2008.

-- Marine Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme of North Miami Beach, Fla., who was memorialized Jan. 28, 2009, at the Miami MEPS. Preudhomme was killed in a suicide attack in Iraq’s Anbar province June 26, 2008.

-- Army Pfc. Stephen D. Bicknell of Prattville, Ala., who was memorialized at the Montgomery, Ala., MEPS on Feb. 20, 2009. Bicknell died of injuries when land mines detonated near his Humvee in Samara, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2006.

-- Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Brown of Mabscott, W.Va., who was memorialized at the Beckley, W.Va., MEPS on March 3, 2009. Brown died of injuries suffered in a Humvee accident in Mosul, Iraq, July 3, 2005.

-- Five members of the North Carolina National Guard’s 1132nd Military Police Company who were memorialized at the Raleigh, N.C., MEPS on March 7, 2009. Army Sgt. Thomas Ray II, Sgt. David Stelmat Jr., Sgt. Blake Williams, Staff Sgt. Emanuel Pickett and Sgt. Lance O. Eakes died in March through April 2008 during their unit’s deployment to Iraq.

-- Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher L. Robinson of Brandon, Miss., who was memorialized at the Jackson, Miss., MEPS on March 16, 2009. Robison was killed in action near the Sangain district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province March 25, 2006.

-- Army Staff Sgt. Morgan Kennon of Memphis, Tenn., who was memorialized at the Memphis MEPS on March 17, 2009. Kennon was killed in Mosul, Iraq, when his position came under rocket-propelled grenade attack, Nov. 7, 2003.

-- Army 1st Lt. Andrew Bacevich of Walpole, Mass., who was memorialized at the Boston MEPS on March 18, 2009. Bacevich was killed in Balad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated, May 13, 2007.

-- Army Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, of Lincoln, Maine, who was memorialized at the Portland, Maine, MEPS March 20, 2009. Gordon was the only servicemember honored through the MEPS initiative who was not killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously after he was killed in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 3, 1993.

-- Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith of South Tampa, Fla., who was memorialized at the Tampa MEPS on April 4, 2009. Smith was the first Medal of Honor recipient in the global war on terror and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received the honor posthumously for actions April 3, 2003, when he saved more than 100 soldiers in the battle for Baghdad’s airport, a battle in which he lost his life.

-- Army Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude, U.S. Army deputy chief of staff for personnel, who died Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into his Pentagon office. Maude was memorialized at the Indianapolis MEPS on April 15, 2009.

-- Army Sgt. Joseph Vanek of Elmhurst, Ill., who was memorialized at the Chicago MEPS on April 20, 2009. Vanek died of his wounds following a firefight in Baghdad, Nov. 12, 2007.

-- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan Yale of Meherrin, Va., who was memorialized at the Fort Lee, Va., MEPS on April 24, 2009. Yale was killed in action stopping a suicide truck bomber from detonating inside his unit’s compound April 22, 2008.

-- Marine Corps Sgt. Canaan J. Alicandro of Springfield, Mass., who was memorialized at the Springfield MEPS on May 7, 2009. Alicandro was killed in a vehicle accident while stationed at Camp Lejeune, N. C., in 2004.

-- Army Sgt. Daniel W. Wallace of Dry Ridge, Ky., who was memorialized at the Louisville, Ky., MEPS May 15, 2009. Wallace died of wounds suffered in a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan on Oct. 31, 2008.

-- Army Spc. Ross McGinnis of Knox, Pa., who was memorialized at the Pittsburgh MEPS on May 18, 2009. McGinnis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after throwing himself on a grenade to save the other occupants of his Humvee on Dec. 4, 2006.

-- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jason Lee Frye of Landisburg, Pa., who was memorialized at the Harrisburg, Pa., MEPS on May 19, 2009. Frye was killed in action in Fallujah, Iraq, when his vehicle detonated an improvised explosive device Oct. 6, 2005.

-- Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathan Ayers of Snellville, Ga., who was memorialized at the Atlanta MEPS on May 20, 2009. Ayers was killed in action defending Combat Outpost Bella in Afghanistan’s Kunar province July 13, 2008.

-- Army Spc. Robert Trevithick of Gaines, Mich., who was memorialized at the Detroit MEPS on May 21, 2009. Trevithick died April 14, 2004, in Balad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device exploded near his convoy vehicle.

-- Marine Corps Pfc. Ryan Jarabek of Hobart, Wis., who was memorialized at the Milwaukee MEPS on May 22, 2009. Jarabek was killed by hostile fire in Ramadi, Iraq, April 6, 2004.

-- Marine Corps Sgt. Michael H. Ferschke Jr. of Maryville, Tenn., who was memorialized at the Knoxville, Tenn., MEPS on May 26, 2009. Ferschke was killed in Tikrit, Iraq, Aug. 10, 2008, while supporting combat operations.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Capt. Kristin Strong and Nancy Bacevich, mother of 1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, unveil the memorial plaque that hangs permanently within the 1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Ceremony Room at the Boston Military Entrance Processing Station. The March 18, 2009, ceremony honored Bacevich, who processed through the station's ceremony room in 2004 and was killed in Iraq in May 2007. Courtesy photo   
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