Three days before her grandfather passed away, Ashley Valentine, 19, made a promise to carry on his legacy in the United States Armed Forces. After Ashley signed up for the Marine Corps, her sister Amber, 22, made the decision to enlist as well.
“After talking with the recruiter about how it would impact my life, I was committed,” Amber said. “I was ready to go no matter what.”
The Manassas, Virginia natives both agreed to rely on each other through the Marine Corps’ rigorous and demanding training process, helping each other through their highest highs and lowest lows.
“I went through a moment during first phase where I received some bad news in a letter, and she was there to be a shoulder for me to lean on,” Amber said in an interview with the Department of Defense.
After they complete Combat Training, Amber will continue on in the communications field and Ashley will be certified as a Motor Transportation Operator.
“I know she’s going to be ok,” Ashley said of her sister. “She’s always been independent and I know she’s going to succeed in her career.”
Three other sisters, Maria, Vanessa and Melissa Placido Jaramillo, made the pact as children to join the military together. It was that early commitment that helped them get through training.
The three siblings were born in Panama and moved to Las Vegas at a young age, according to the Defense Department.
Maria, 21, said she loved war movies growing up. When she saw “Tears of the Sun” for the first time, she said she was inspired to join the military. After learning about the ROTC program, she found her true motivation to become a Marine; to honor her family and give back to the country that gave her so much.
Her other two sisters, identical twins Melissa and Vanessa, 22, were also in the ROTC program exploring their options of different branches, but it was their younger sister who first spoke with a Marine Corps recruiter, the Defense Department says.
What kept the three sisters going?
“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 said.
“We have an unbreakable bond,” Maria said. “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.”
According to the Defense Department, the three sisters have yet to find out what Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) they will be assigned, but are looking forward to what the Marine Corps has in store for them.
Maria says she is excited to expand her knowledge of a new occupation while completing her education.
Melissa and Vanessa also both intend to complete their education, Melissa as a double major in Political Science and Medical Science, and Vanessa in Political Science and Legal Science. They all will become naturalized as American citizens.
“These five success stories of triumph and resilience may have come to Parris Island with different mindsets and from different backgrounds, but they will forever share the bond of becoming Marines side-by-side,” an official with the Defense Department said.