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    Sisters travel from rubbles, ruin to USMC, opportunity

    Twins Pose

    Photo By Cpl. Christopher Zincke | U.S. Marines Sgt. Mehdrina Jeancharles (left) and Sgt. Sophie Jeancharles pose with a...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Christopher Zincke 

    Marine Corps Base Quantico

    “I remember starving while trapped in the debris,” she said, stuck under a collapsed building with her sister, Sophie. "We had no way to escape and no idea what’s to come with the ongoing earthquake." A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12th, 2010, which took the lives of more than 200,000 other people.

    “It felt like we were trapped for hours,” now U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Mehdrina Jeancharles said, and it wasn’t until a U.S. Marine pulled her to safety where she saw some hope.

    The sisters grew up together in Haiti, raised by their grandmother after the death of their mother during an earlier natural disaster. Their father also moved to the United States before their mother's death. At the age of 10, shortly after the earthquake that trapped them, the sisters moved to the States – arranged by their grandmother – to live with their father, so they can have “opportunities to build a better life,” Mehdrina noted.

    Growing up in America presented challenges to the sisters, though. Mehdrina admitted they both struggled with a language barrier, sharing that while in middle school, a teacher was assigned to them to assist with translation throughout their classes.

    “But you know, with a teacher close to us like that, it really got us bullied.”

    Eventually, they became capable without a translator. Then, in sophomore year of high school, they were “kicked out of the house” by their stepmother, Mehdrina said.

    “We ended up living under a bridge near our school until a friend’s family took us in,” she continued. “Soon after, we ended up getting a place together, working three jobs each in order to afford everything.”

    Throughout this time, Mehdrina would think of the Marine who rescued her and Sophie.

    “Seeing that Marine’s genuine dedication to saving our lives inspires me to this day,” she said.

    Motivated by the Marine, she and Sophie eventually decided to speak to recruiters for the Armed Services, noting that the Marines were the only ones available to them.

    Gunnery Sgt. Chadwell Cameron, with Recruiting Substation West Palm Beach, Florida, became responsible for sending off the sisters to become United States Marines.

    “The sisters showed so much enthusiasm, faith and determination in each other and themselves, that it would boost the morale of everyone in the delayed entry program,” he said. “They stood out as young leaders because they believed in the best of everyone around them.”

    On Feb. 3, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they shipped to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, out of Recruiting Station Fort Lauderdale. They began their recruit training experience within the same platoon until Sophie was separated into another for extended physical training to meet the standards of the semiannual fitness tests, the Physical Fitness Test and the Combat Fitness Test.

    “Earning a first-class score on the PFT wasn’t the hard part for me,” Mehdrina said, “it became hard when I didn’t have my sister beside me.”

    After she was dropped, Sophie said, “I felt like I couldn’t keep going.”

    As some time passed, Sophie sent a letter to her sister explaining her desire to quit. Two weeks later, Mehdrina suffered a hip injury and reunited with her sister within the same platoon.

    "That day we cried more than we have ever in our lives,” Sophie explained. “Without my sister, boot camp would’ve been impossible.”

    Throughout their experiences in and out of boot camp, Mehdrina found a passion for running, she said, and Sophie found opportunities for growth within her current career field.

    Recently, Mehdrina has completed the 48th Marine Corps Marathon, seeking more opportunities to attend races, she explained. And as of May 13, 2024, she caught up to Sophie’s rank of sergeant.

    Currently, Mehdrina serves as an administrative clerk with the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group on MCB Quantico, on track to completing her associate degree with goals stretching as far as a graduate program before leaving the Marine Corps. Meanwhile, Sophie is an aviation supply specialist stationed in Japan on the brink of reenlisting.

    “I feel guilty not being able to be there for her milestone because we’ve shared every part of our life together,” Sophie said regarding the distance that currently separates them, “but I take comfort in us growing as individuals, and who we are meant to be in life.”



    Date Taken: 05.16.2024
    Date Posted: 05.03.2024 15:05
    Story ID: 469302

    Web Views: 65
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